This Is Milwaukee’s Most Haunted Campus

Long known as one of Milwaukee’s most haunted locations, the Marquette campus bristles with paranormal activity.

Straz Tower (915 W. Wisconsin Ave.) was a YMCA until 1993, when it was acquired by the university for use as a residence hall. The building has a basement-level pool, thought to be the home of Whispering Willie, the building’s most famous apparition. Willie is said to have drowned in the pool many years ago. Late-night swimmers report suddenly seeing a boy swimming next to them as they complete their laps before he just as quickly disappears. Willie is also thought to be the source of dorm room shenanigans, such as pulling blankets off sleeping students and playfully turning lights on and off.

Two theater-loving spirits are thought to linger on Marquette’s campus. Helfaer Theatre (1304 W. Clybourn St.) is rumored to be haunted by an art director who died in the studio. He makes his presence known through clanging noises on the catwalk. A helpful ghost who met a grim end is believed to inhabit the Varsity Theatre (1324 W. Wisconsin Ave.). Legend states that years ago, an unlucky projectionist working in the theater fell into an industrial fan and was sliced to bits. Today, the custodial crew claims he helps lock up and turn out lights at the end of shifts.


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Something strange is happening on the fifth floor of Johnston Hall (1131 W. Wisconsin Ave.), home to the communications school. Those who venture there at night report sounds of disembodied footsteps and doors opening and closing on their own. In the 1990s, a few ghost-hunting students conducted an investigation. They documented the discovery of cold spots and strange noises, saw an unusual blue light, and caught a shadowy figure on tape.

The building with the most reported paranormal activity is Humphrey Hall (1716 W. Wisconsin Ave.). The location of Children’s Hospital from 1923 until 1988, the building had a basement-level morgue when Marquette acquired it as a dorm. An extensive renovation in 2015 has not stopped its former residents from making themselves known. Groups of ghostly children clad in hospital gowns have reportedly been seen, and heard, all over the building.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s October issue.

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