Monday, October 4, 2010

Case Files: Brumder Mansion

Built in 1910 by German publisher George Brumder for his son (George Jr.), the Brumder Mansion in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is known for more than just plush rooms, great breakfast and an awesome location close to downtown attractions.  The home has a rich history that spans 20th century Milwaukee--and more than a few residents/guests over the years have reported experiencing haunted activity in the mansion.

When George built his home, he decided to go with the Victorian/Arts and Crafts style that was so popular at the time (much like his nearby neighbor Frederick Pabst), though he would make strategic changes to suit the house to his needs.  One of these changes included adding the traditional ballroom to the property's basement rather than on one of the upper floors (as was the tradition of the time).  Because of this architectural choice, the mansion would go on to be used for a variety of social functions.

After Henrietta Brumder passed away in the 1920's, the house was sold to an infamous Milwaukee resident named Sam Picks.  Picks was known for his ties to organized crime and for distributing liquor during the Prohibition years.  Since the home had a ballroom located in the basement of his house (with its own entrance), Picks set up a speakeasy in the area.  And along with any speakeasy, you get the typical assortment of other shady business ventures (prostitution, gambling, etc.).  Like many of his criminal peers of the day, Picks would eventually disappear--presumably to his grave.

The mansion would go on to be a boarding house, church parsonage, cafe, and (eventually) a bed and breakfast.  Today, the property is owned by a nice couple named Tom and Julie who run the six suite B&B and entertainment venue.  Little did they know that when they purchased the property in 2008 that they would also be inheriting a place known for paranormal activity...
The Gold Suite

Over the years, eye witness accounts of ghostly activity in the home have included a female apparition who has been seen/heard in the Gold Suite (dubbed 'Aunt Pussy' and 'Susan' by the staff).  On occasion, this entity makes her way onto the ground floor as well (once even spotted wearing a long, black dress on the staircase) to play with items in the dining room.  Of course, Susan is not alone...

The spirit of George Brumder, Jr. is also thought to be in residence--in the room that is now named for him.  Reports in this area include cold spots, items moving on their own, and the feeling of a presence in the room.  Other hot spots in the mansion include the basement theatre and the third floor rooms (where people are often touched, hear strange sounds, etc.).
IR Photo of Basement
During my visit and investigation of the Brumder Mansion, I had my own set of experiences...  While setting up to perform an EVP session in the basement, a quick whispy blob of white mist shot past my face!  It was big and fast and gone before I knew it.  Also in this area, I was exploring a back room where a tunnel may have once provided a safe escape for Mr. Picks and company.  In one of the back corners, I clearly heard the sound of a chair or other object moving.  When I moved forward to investigate, a large shadow mass shot away from me.

While staying in the mansion, I slept in George's Suite.  Not a single night passed that I didn't hear odd knocks, bangs, objects moving, etc.  Of course, this was the same area where one of the owners had a belt disappear and then reappear a few days later!  During my visit, I co-hosted a ghost hunting class with the Northern Alliance of Paranormal Investigators and managed to get three nights worth of investigating under my belt.  The results would be interesting...
George's Suite

Photographs and video would yield nothing of importance, but I would find a few significant incidents on my audio recorders.  Get out your good headphones, get yourself in a nice quiet area and give 'em a listen:

Clip 1:  This was captured in the basement of the mansion.  During an EVP session I asked, 'Can you tell me your name?'  There was an extremely low volume whispered response.  It sounds like two syllables.

Clip 2:  This was also captured in the basement.  At one point I started trying to get knock responses to questions.  In this clip, you'll hear me ask for some knocks.  Listen close; while I'm knocking, there is a weird voice that says, 'Woo...'

Clip 3:  This was captured in George's Suite during our ghost hunting class.  Here you'll hear a student (a local police officer) say, 'We'd like it if you came by the table and communicated some how.'  Right after he says this, there is a male voice that says four words.  The last three words sound like 'you like that' or 'do like that.'

Here's an enhanced version of just the EVP response...

Clip 4:  This was also captured in George's Suite.  Here you'll hear me do the classic 'shave and a haircut' knock.  Listen close; there's a pair of low volume answer knocks that we do not hear!

Clip 5:  This was captured in the Gold Suite.  While doing an EVP session there, I tried to coax the female entity to appear before me for a photograph.  In this clip, you'll hear a click (that's me adjusting my camera), then right before I say, 'This camera...can I take some photographs of you?' You'll hear a female voice start speaking.  This was recorded about 3am when I was alone with no other investigators, much less a female!

If you can manage a trip to the Brumder Mansion, you will not be disappointed.  As I've already mentioned, they have great lodgings in one of the best spots for touring the city of Milwaukee.  Of course, you can also try to catch one of the Halloween ghost hunting events they will be offering on October 29/30Visit here for information about these events, or go to the official website for the Brumder Mansion to book your room and plan your visit.  Despite the paranormal activity in the premises, everything is of a benevolent nature and you won't regret visiting with Susan and George, Jr.!