A few weeks ago I did a show on taking a spooky day trip west. My enthusiasm for the tales of Tailiesin means I had to cut a segment out of the show. My initial plan was for listeners to spent time touring Wright’s famous, and infamous, Spring Green hideaway, then pop into The Old Baraboo Inn for a snack and a quick look around, ending with a dinner at the possibly haunted, but definitely mobbed up, Wonder Bar. Alas, I could not squeeze the whole itinerary into the show, so here is the lost segment about the former brothel. If spring fever catches you and you decide to make the trip, please share your photos- and your tales!
Have you heard about The Old Baraboo Inn?
This place is on the road trip itinerary because it is an easy drive from Milwaukee, and they really lean into the idea the building is haunted. How invested are they in this image? Well, they hosted what they claim was the world’s largest ghost hunt back in September of 2017 and it looks like most of the entertainment at the Inn involves paranormal hunting and other ghost-based activities.
I don’t want to offend you so early in our relationship, so I won’t dive too deeply into my thoughts on ghost hunting and its equipment, but I will say, for me, the stories and the history are the most compelling attraction to haunted locations. Well, that, and the visceral feeling one gets being in a reportedly haunted environment. That decidedly human element will always draw me in in ways that an e-meter results never will.
The building was built in 1864 and began as a boardinghouse, then the business later diversified to offer some more scandalous services. The business became rather popular as it located across from the railway station. Now, it is primarily a bar and grill.
The origin of the haunting at this building is that it was at one time a rough and rollicking place where a number of people lost their lives. Formerly a brothel, a number of people throughout the years have claimed to see ghostly women dressed as saloon girls. The otherworldly party continues with some hearing honky tonk piano playing pouring from the empty barroom and one shocked patron claimed to see the appreciation of popular former lady of the night, dubbed Mary by modern patron dancing to the jukebox. May believe the often seen Mary is a former prostitute who bled to death in the building in the early 1900s.
Paranormal activity in the building is not limited to appearances by the former entertainers. Those who work in the kitchen claim to have repeatedly dodge flying dishes and other cookware. Both employees and patrons have experienced doors opening and closing without earthly aid. For me, the scariest reports are what happens in the basement of this building. Basements are always creepy and I imagine the basement here is no exception. Apparently, the restaurant’s walk in cooler is in the basement, and it is reported that staff who are not popular with the building’s ghosts have been shut in the cooler and had the lights turned off on them.
It’s not just the bar and kitchen that experience paranormal happenings. It appears the units on the second floor also have otherworldly visitors. Those staying in the rooms have reported hearing their name said by an unseen woman’s voice, had belonging moved around the rooms without intervention and have been bothered by sounds of tapping and knocking.
I’ve you’ve always wanted to try your hand at ghost hunting, or want to learn more about paranormal investigating, it looks like they host several events like this each week. If you decide to take the trip northwest of Madison, please share your pictures or give us the details of your adventure. Feel free to reach out on Gothic Milwaukee’s social media with your updates.