Experience haunted Oshkosh (then tell us about it) 
By Sarah Owen
Of Weekend


10/05/06 - Marshfield News-Herald

You can't shake the feeling - that chill that runs up and down the spine and makes hair on the arms stand up. We're not talking tiptoeing through haunted houses or crawling through corn mazes.

How about roaming round graveyards, climbing darkened balconies or just having a cup of coffee next to a ghost? Apparently, it's not so far-fetched. Co-author of "The Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted Locations" Chad Lewis has investigated Oshkosh's most haunted locations, and here he suggests three for Halloween thrill-seekers.

Grand Opera House

Ghost story: Legend has it this historic theater at 100 High Ave., is haunted by spirits of former workers, who like to "get involved" in productions.

Evidence: "Everybody knows of the Grand Opera House. So many people have documented it," Lewis said.

In 1967, former University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh professor Bob Jacobs took a class to the Grand to film a flick about a haunted theater. They reported seeing a ghost with small spectacles looking down and smiling from the balcony; he looked just like Percy Keene, who worked in the theater from 1895 till his death in 1967.

Today, performers and Executive Director Joe Ferlo also say they've experienced spirits there. Be it an orange mist-like vapor floating around the stage or ghosts sitting in theater seats during rehearsals.

Experience it: The Grand will host a 3-day Halloween Haunt Fest Oct. 29 to 31, featuring horror movie double features and some classics. On Oct. 31, a special midnight tour will take guests through the 123-year-old theater while guides tell spooky tales: $15 for 3 days, $6 Oct. 29 and 30, $8 Oct. 31.

New Moon Cafe

Ghost story: The coffee house at 401 N. Main St. is a busy shop, but rumored to be haunted by people who perished in a fire in the Oshkosh building years ago

Evidence: The original building, the Beckwith, was destroyed by a fire in 1875. Mrs. Simon Paige, wealthy wife of a lumberman, died in the building in 1880 (not in the fire), and staff have reported seeing a "wealthy-looking" female spirit lingering about. Others say they've seen ghost of a young man or bellhop.

Experience it: Stop for some coffee when it's quiet, and keep your eyes open. If you do happen to see a spirit, just make sure the java's cooled before you spill it all over yourself.

Riverside Cemetery

Ghost story: It's been said that at night spirits of children like to run around the cemetery at 1901 Algoma Blvd.

Evidence: "We got a story from someone who was walking through it in a cold month and saw a young child there without a coat," Lewis said. "They thought, 'That's very odd, no coat in the middle of winter.'" The witness claimed to walk toward the little girl, but she suddenly disappeared. Lewis and crew visited the cemetery with a psychic unaware of its history, who sensed ghosts of children.

Experience it: If you're brave enough to wander the cemetery after dark, take some friends for support (and for witnesses who can verify anything you see, unless you want to be called crazy).

Some have reported spirits at the Grand Opera House. Northwestern File Photo

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