Imagine your four year-old daughter tells you she talked to Grandpa the night after he died. That he appeared to her in her bedroom as a bright blue-white light. He came to say goodbye and he loved her.
This is where paranormal curiosity struck Tim Freiss, AKA ‘Charles Charles’, owner and historical tour guide of Green Bay Ghost Tours, in Green Bay Wisconsin.
Freiss dedicated two years of his life to researching the city’s haunted past with help from The White Pillars Historical Society, The Neville Public museum, UWGB, the Brown County Library and other local resources. He says they were all very open and involved in his research. They helped him dig up old death certificates, newspaper articles and other evidence to confirm his findings.
Freiss also spent a year as a paranormal investigator, which you might say is like being a real-life “Ghostbuster.” That’s when Freiss experienced his very first ghost encounter.
It was during a confidential paranormal investigation of the Kewaunee County Historical Society, which used to be a jail in the 1800’s and an Indian burial ground before that. Using a small flashlight, he communicated with what he believes was the spirit of a five year old boy.
Each time Freiss asked the spirit a question, the mini-flashlight flickered and then turned on by itself. He was overcome by a feeling of weakness and a pain in his head. When I asked Freiss if he was freaked out being alone in this old jail cell in the dark he said he was “nervous, not scared. It was just such a strange feeling.”
Later that night, Freiss found out from a historian of the museum that the skull and bones of a 5 year old Indian boy had been dug up and moved around by construction workers who excavated the dirt from the museums basement some time ago. The bones were then gathered, placed in a box and reburied on the grounds of the museum.
Pretty spooky how the two happenings fit together so well.
The history of people’s lives and their stories is what fascinates Freiss the most. For the past four years, he’s been giving guided ghost tours throughout the area. His character “Charles, Charles”, dressed in a tux and painted face, takes people throughout Green Bay to share the history of its haunted past.
Freiss assured me, “The tour is for fun, even though these are haunted locations, it’s strictly for entertainment.”
- Check out this blog post by Green Bay Field Trip blogger, Terra, who took her son on the Ghost Tour after downloading a free ghost detecting app!
When I asked Freiss if tour groups have ever experienced real paranormal activity, he said “I don’t play games, but yes, someone has been touched, there have been cold spots, cold winds, a woman screaming, a shadow figure singing, and lights that turn on and off by themselves.”
Freiss uncovers the haunting of at least 20 familiar Green Bay locations in his book, Haunted Green Bay.
Some of these haunted places are probably very familiar and may even surprise you! That includes Titletown Brewing Company, the Union Hotel in De Pere, Baird Creek, The Lorelei Inn, Bay Beach Amusement Park and Heritage Hill.
During a tour, Freiss brings you to six locations that seem to attract the spirits of the dead throughout downtown Green Bay. He enlightens you with the history of the haunting every step of the way.
Here’s a sneak peak of the six places you’ll hear about on your Green Bay Ghost Tour.
1. Downtown Green Bay
Did you know the “Father of Wisconsin” is buried somewhere underneath Green Bay’s downtown district?
Long before streets and buildings were built, the area was home to La Baye cemetery. This cemetery was the burial place for not only the bodies of the Wisconsin’s founding father and his dad, but also the man who built the oldest standing building in the state (now located at Heritage Hill), the daughter of the Menominee chief who owned the surrounding area, and several French nobility who died during the Fox War in 1733. Plus – for well over 200 years – La Baye was where family members of the Potawatomic, Menominee, Ojibwa, Ho-CHunk, Miami, Sauk and Fox Tribes were buried.
Because of money hungry fur traders from New York, the cemetery was desecrated in 1838 so the Green Bay Water Works pumping station could be built in its place. Fifteen graves were found while digging the trenches and the others were washed away into the Fox River. Freiss believes the cemetery is the reason why so many older Green Bay buildings are haunted – from Washington street to Adams street and Crooks to Chicago street downtown.
One of several haunted stops on Washington Street is St. Brendan’s Inn. Employees have said the elevators run up and down between floors and the doors open and close by themselves. The laundry room is also where the paranormal action takes place. Soap bottles tend to fly off the shelves and people get overwhelmed with the feeling that they’re not alone, or they experience their sixth sense!
2. Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley
Another stop on the Ghost tour is Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley.
Having bowled at Ashwaubenon Lanes multiple times, I was quite surprised to learn it has a pimped out basement. Even better, a haunted pimped out basement!
It used to be a high end restaurant and tavern called The Salt Cellar, complete with three rooms. The Oak Room is decorated with wood paneling and has a fire place that came from a 1900’s steam ship. The Mahogany room is designed with decor from a Brothel. And the main dining room has a bar that is more than a 125 years old.
Freiss says there have been some eery occurrences in the building.
“Some of the activity that is reported is things move around by themselves, voices are heard and lights turn on and off by themselves,” he says. “Also, lane number 17 is haunted by a man by the name of Willard, who died from a heart attack on that lane. He causes the scoring computer and ball return not to work, and people report feeling a presence on that lane.”
Sure makes bowling at Ashwaubenon Lanes way more exciting! Lane #17 anyone?
3. Captain’s Walk Winery
Captain’s Walk, one of the featured stops on the Green Bay Ghost Tour, is the only “home” left in downtown Green Bay with its original foundation and location.
A man by the name of Elisha Morrow built the house in 1857 for his wife and six daughters. He was an early organizer of the Republican Party of Wisconsin and one of the delegates who got Abraham Lincoln nominated as the Republican candidate for president in 1860.
The second youngest of Morrow’s daughters, Helen Morrow, inherited her much beloved home after her father died. Helen was forced to sell the property to the Green Bay Women’s Club in 1920 because she didn’t have the money to keep it.
The house went through four more owners before Brad and Eric Schmiling purchased it and turned it into Captain’s Walk Winery in 2006. Helen is believed to be the one who haunts the building today. Freiss said, “She moves and throws wine glasses, turns on the radio, runs the freight elevator up and down, and turns on the sink faucets.”
The first ever paranormal activity in the house dates back to the late 1970’s when the house was turned into a gift shop. The owners then claimed they saw a woman standing at the top of the stairs and they felt a negative presence.
The thought is that Helen was unhappy with how they remodeled her home and still regretted having to sell it.
According to Captain’s Walk owners, Brad and Eric, Helen is well-known around there. While the brothers spent time restoring the home, they stayed there overnight. They said that night they heard a little girl bouncing a ball, running around and giggling on the second floor but didn’t find anything anyone there.
That was the first and last time they spent the night there, but they do think after the restorations were complete, Helen’s presence seemed to be more at peace. Most likely because she was happy with what they had done to her old home.
But Helen still makes herself known in the house. Once in a while a book will fly off the shelf or a wine glass will come flying out of the dishwasher. They’ve even had to disable the faucets after a while because they think Helen was turning them on so often.
So, next time you go wine tasting at Captain’s Walk, make sure you’re nice to Helen… after all – it’s still her home!
4. 217 E. Walnut Street Building (Formerly Confetti’s Night Club)
This is one of Freiss’s favorite haunted spots in Green Bay. It was recently known as Confetti’s Night Cub and Envy’s, but it was originally a theater built in 1900. It was one of the last 19th century modern style theaters in the nation.
Legend has it there was a double murder and suicide in the first year it was open, which may be the reason it is haunted today.
As the story goes, the leading local actress, who was married at the time, fell in love with the married leading actor while rehearsing for the first play ever performed in the theater. The play was called Because She Loved Him So.
Fitting title isn’t it?
When the actress’s husband found the two of them making love in the theater’s balcony, he grew furious, pulled a pistol from his coat pocket and shot his wife where she lay. His wife’s lover, tried to jump over the balcony railing but was shot in the back. Halfway down the balcony steps, the husband took his own life as well.
The spirits of the husband and his wife’s lover are still present in the old theater. People have seen shadow figures jumping from the balcony, running and then disappearing. Then another shadow figure disappears halfway down the balcony stairs. A woman’s voice is heard calling people’s names in the hallway by the back studios.
This Walnut Street building is currently for sale. One can only wonder if its vacancy has anything to do with the ghosts that live there!
5. The Historic Bellin Building
Dr. Julius Bellin was born in 1870 and died a somewhat early death from a variety of diseases at the age of 58.
Dr. Bellin was one of Green Bay’s most prominent surgeons. He started his first hospital in 1907, and also founded the Wisconsin Deaconess Hospital which was renamed Bellin Memorial Hospital in his honor in 1920.
The building was known as the first small skyscraper north of Milwaukee in its time. It was often rented and used by physicians, dentists and other medical professionals. Now with nine floors, the Bellin Building houses at least 28 businesses including the Black and Tan, and Daily Buzz Coffee shop.
Freiss says the Bellin Building is haunted by Dr. Bellin himself. Many tenants have said they’ve spotted a man in his late 50’s with grey hair and wearing a black suit and tie. Although he likes to run the manual elevator (one of 4 left in the U.S.) up and down, people like his friendly ghost. In his book, Freiss says he always has a smile on his face and is “regarded as a positive energy that is welcomed and encouraged to stay.”
6. The Downtown Y.M.C.A
In 1987, a man named Erik Lee Vogliotti lived on the fifth floor of the YMCA downtown Green Bay. He was one of several young men who were part of the resident program offered back then. This was a program that helped guys get back on their feet. The rent was adjusted according to what their job paid.
Rumor has it Erik was not very well-liked by other residents. He mostly kept to himself and was living there for a good month without finding a job. The rule was, you had to get a job within the first two weeks of living there.
On Friday August 7th 1987 two fellow residents, Charles Conrad age 25 and his friend Thomas Mason age 22 got back to the Y after a hard night of drinking. When they saw Erik in the TV room, Mason decided to curse Erik out in front of other residents. Influenced by alcohol, he let him have it and told him exactly what he thought of him.
The next morning, guilty over his words, Conrad tried to find Erik to apologize. Unfortunately, he was unable to find him anywhere that day. That night Conrad and his buddy Mason decided to hit the town again. This time when they arrived back to the fifth floor just before midnight, Erik was waiting for them unwilling to listen to any apologies. Instead, he whipped out a hand gun and shot Conrad in the heart killing him instantly. He then shot Mason in the stomach. He died two hours later at St. Vincent Hospital. Erik, cold and not at all remorseful, turned himself in right away. He’s currently serving his life sentence in the Wisconsin Correction System.
Soon after the murders, residents started to see “Conrad” walking around in the hallways and TV room of the 5th floor. The residents program ended shortly after, and today the fifth floor is no longer used by the YMCA. People think Conrad’s spirit came back looking for resolution since he never actually got to apologize to Erik.
More Information on Green Bay Ghost Tours
If you’d like to go on one of the Green Bay Ghost tours, there are spots available for this Halloween season. You can attend walking tours, bus tours, and find out more about Tim Freiss’ work.
- Check out upcoming tour dates at GreenBayGhostTours.com
- Like Green Bay Ghost Tours on Facebook
- Sign up (call 920-499-2783) to reserve your spot on a tour
Starting the White Witch Paranormal Museum
Freiss has other big plans in addition to his Ghost Tours! He hopes to get his White Witch Paranormal Museum open sometime in the next couple of years. The museum will be filled with several haunted items. Things like an antique picture of Ann Marie who you can hear playing and giggling, and a haunted dresser that has drawers that open and close by themselves. There will be ghost trivia and poster boards with explanations of phrases we often say such as “knock on wood”, “bless you”, and “scream like a banshee”.
The museum will have a Fear Machine that gives off ultrasonic vibrations mimicking the feeling of a haunted presence. *Warning* this machine will not be safe for heart patients!
The gift store will have ghost hunting equipment, books, videos, souvenir t-shirts and more. The museum will also offer classes for people interested in becoming a paranormal investigator.
Freiss sums up his main purpose when he told me, “the first and foremost service this museum will be providing is a non-scary, fun, fact-filled education of our country’s history, traditions, rituals and trivia as it relates to the paranormal.”
I told Freiss I think the old Confetti’s Night Club building would be the perfect place for his museum! He said he’d love that too, especially because there are underground tunnels and a lot of paranormal activity. But being a costly location he’s going to need some help.
You can help Freiss get his museum started by:
- Joining him for a Green Bay Ghost Tour.
- Buying his book.
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