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The Pfister Hotel

The Pfister Hotel

Freaky Friday

I’m really enjoying researching and writing about haunted hotels and this week’s hotel was so much fun because not only is the Pfister Hotel haunted, its ghosts like to play pranks on visiting MLB teams who stay there where they’re in town to play the Milwaukee Brewers.

Strange Spooky Weird website gives us a little background on this grand hotel. “With its imposing façade and ornate interiors, Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel has a history of spooky goings on and is arguably one of the USA’s most haunted hotels. Situated at 424 East Wisconsin Avenue in the city’s centre, the hotel is known for its luxurious settings and close proximity to Lake Michigan. It’s a popular destination for visitors to the city and has welcomed many VIPs including presidents, princes, and stars from the worlds of entertainment and sports as guests. It seems it is also a popular place for the spirits of the dead too…

Amongst the spooky events that have been tied to the Pfister are appearance of the hotel’s long dead founder Charles Pfister. The figure of a portly gentleman has been spotted at various locations at the hotel including overlooking the hotel lobby. It’s thought he continues to look after the well-being of his guests as was his main mission when he had the hotel built.

There have also been reports of electrical disturbances with toys and appliances going haywire at the building. Lights moving through rooms have also been reported. Reports of footsteps inside locked rooms, and disembodied voices heard, and mention of the ghost of a bride who died by falling down an elevator shaft are also frequent.”

Spooky, right?!?!?  But wait until you read what ESPN reporter Stacy Pressman writes in a May 2013 article about the Pfister Hotel. “A road game at Miller Park usually means a stay at the Pfister, downtown Milwaukee’s historic hotel, which plays host to most visiting ballclubs. It’s got swank rooms, a prime location — and a major league reputation for spooking its guests. Rumor has it that the 120-year-old landmark is haunted by the ghost of its founder, Charles Pfister, who died in 1927. Sound silly? Tell that to these A-listers.”

Here are a few of the comments she received:

Bryce Harper, Nationals
One time last summer, before I went to sleep, I laid a pair of jeans and a shirt on that table at the foot of the bed, those things in hotels that you sit on to put on your shoes. I just laid ’em out, simple as that. When I woke up in the morning — I swear on everything — the clothes were on the floor and the table was on the opposite side of the room against the wall. I was so flustered. I honestly thought there might be someone in my room. I had no idea what the hell just happened, so I actually looked around, and then I checked to see if the door was still latched, and it was.

I thought someone — maybe [Jayson] Werth — came into my room during the night and moved everything around, and I knew Tyler Moore and Lombo [Steve Lombardozzi] were both near me too, but they said that no one had done anything like that. Now, they could be lying to me. That’s possible, and no one else seemed to have a weird experience, but it really creeped me out. I went downstairs and changed my room immediately. Different room, different floor. I said, “I just need to get out of that room. I don’t want to talk about it, I just need to get out.” So they moved me to a higher floor.

Michael Young, Phillies
Listen, I’m not someone who spreads ghost stories, so if I’m telling you this, it happened. A couple of years ago, I was lying in bed after a night game, and I was out. My room was locked, but I heard these footsteps inside my room, stomping around. I’d heard all these stories about this hotel, so I was wide awake at that point. And then I heard it again, these footsteps on the floor, so I yelled out, “Hey! Make yourself at home. Hang out, have a seat, but do not wake me up, okay?” After that, I didn’t hear a thing for the rest of the night. I just let him know he was welcome, that we could be pals, that he could marinate in there for as long as he needed to, just as long as he didn’t wake me up.

C.J. Wilson, Angels
I’ve had lots of experiences there. I was on the computer one night, doing my typical shtick — surfing the web, sending an email, editing a photo — and then all of a sudden the lights started flickering. I’m thinking to myself, I’m going to be so pissed if my computer dies. Then the light just shuts off. And then the TV shuts off. And then the light turns back on, but the light at the front door turns off. I just yelled out, “Really?”

I have this thing with ghosts. Just engage them or confront them. Just say, “Hey, man, I’m here to chill out. I’m just here to send some emails, no big deal. Just leave me alone.” So after that, I went back to whatever I was doing on the computer, but then 30 minutes later there’s scratching in the walls. Now I’m thinking, Okay, it’s the Midwest, there could be a possum or something in the wall, right? That’s possible, isn’t it? All I knew was that there were definitely noises coming from the wall. I just said out loud again, “Can you please just leave me alone? I’m really trying to work here.”

At this point, I’m on edge. I’m literally looking to see if there are people in the hallway, if someone’s trying to pull something. We’ll do that sometimes — take a guy’s key card and hide in the closet or behind the shower and jump out. But then the lights really start going crazy, and I’m like, “Are you kidding me? I don’t want anything from you! Leave me alone! Or write it down. Write down what you want. I can’t communicate with you through the lights.”

The next day, we all show up at the park, and everyone has this uneasy feeling, like we had bad Chinese food or something. I said to one of my teammates, “You wouldn’t believe the s— that was going on in my hotel room last night.” And another guy said, “Oh my god. Are you talking about that s— you heard?” Everybody had a story. One dude got locked in his bathroom and he had to get the hotel to get him out. Another guy had the lights turn off when he was in the shower. Another guy saw something.

I don’t get terribly concerned unless things start shattering in the room, so it was fine. I don’t get that much sleep anyway. But you just get a vibe when you walk in. It almost feels like you’re in Prague or something: very Gothic, lots of gold enamel, crosswalks and atriums everywhere. Being on the road so much, we’re used to a standard cookie-cutter place. But this hotel totally stands alone.

But it’s not just athletes that get the special haunted package, according to the Ghostly Activities website even business travelers have a unique experience. “Tom checked into the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. He would meet a few business partners and clients over the next few days, and the hotel was in a good location to their offices. He wanted to take his time and get some sleep, a luxury for most of his trips.

But the Pfister Hotel’s ghostly residents had other plans.

He checked in and headed to his room on the 17th floor. It was January and the hotel wasn’t busy. Tom didn’t count more than a few guests in the lobby and restaurant. He was alone in the elevator and the hallway to his room was empty. The hotel was still.

After receiving his bags from the bell hop, he took out his clothes for the next day and placed them on the bench at the foot of the bed. Then, he put his Dopp kit in the bathroom, and turned on the TV to watch college basketball game. Now settled, he ordered room service.

“My first call to room service disconnected,” Tom said. “There was a crazy static on the line, so I thought it was just old lines in the hotel. The second time I tried, I got through, but the call would cut out every few seconds. It cleared up after I repeated my order 3 times.”

This was his first stay in the hotel and, while static on a phone line is an annoyance, it wasn’t the weirdest thing to happen.

“Ten minutes after I ordered a late-night dinner, I heard knocks on my door,” Tom said. “Just 3 taps. I thought it was the server bringing my food. She told me it would take 30 minutes, so I was a bit surprised it could be ready this soon.”

When he opened the door, no one was there. He looked both ways down the hall. It was empty. Tom thought another guest may have kids and they were playing a game.

When the server arrived, he asked if she had seen anyone in the halls tonight. She told him there were 4 guests on the floor, including him, but there were no children staying on the seventeenth floor.

After the game ended, he decided to get ready for bed. It was now 11 PM. He set his phone alarm to go off at 7 AM and pulled back the covers. He clicked the off button on the remote control. As the TV screen faded to black, he saw the silhouette of a man reflected in it.

“I thought it was a burn-in of one of the game’s broadcasters, but the figure wore a hat, like a Tyrolean hat. One of those German hats with the little feather on the side,” Tom said.

He shook his head to wake himself up a little. He had flown in from Phoenix with a long layover in Minneapolis. He thought fatigue made him see things that weren’t there.

As he entered the bathroom, he found his Dopp kit on the floor. The contents scattered on the floor.

“At this point, I got a little scared. I hadn’t left the room and my Dopp kit was zipped shut,” he said. “I may have been sleepy, but I would have noticed someone come in.”

After brushing his teeth, he got into bed. It was about 11:30 PM, when he checked his alarm settings again. He also set the digital alarm clock on the table next to the bed.

Tom told Ghostly Activities that he had a troublesome sleep. He felt a pressure on his chest and he couldn’t breathe well. It seemed like sleep apnea, but he never had it before. He also had to turn up the heat a few times. The thermostat read 70 degrees, but it felt much colder, even under the covers. He thought there could be a mechanical problem and made a note to tell the hotel about it the next day. It was now 2:15 AM.

Again, he had a restless sleep, tossing and turning, and feeling colder.

He remembered rolling over and hearing a deep laugh. He reached for his phone to check the time, but the digital display showed a blinking “00:00.” He looked to the digital alarm clock and it was dead—the power had gone out.

He sat up in bed and turned toward a shadow he saw at the foot of his bed. His clothes flew off the bench and hit him in the face. Then, something pushed down on his shoulders, knocking him back in his bed. The shadow laughed again.

He laid pinned to the bed for a few more seconds and managed to get free. He flung his crumpled clothes to the floor and ran toward the door. It wouldn’t open.

“I just murmured to myself that I was going to get the f*** out of this place,” Tom said.

As he did, the power returned, and the room felt warmer. It was now 3:33 AM.

Tom went downstairs and said there was a problem with the room’s heat. The front desk manager switched him to a different room. He remained at the Pfister Hotel without another ghostly incident.”

Well, this wouldn’t be a Freaky Friday Haunted Hotel story without at least one review from Trip Advisor.

Historical elegance

The beauty surrounds in every inch of this hotel. The ironwork in the lobby to the painted ceilings and the message “salve” Latin for welcome was painted and etched in various places. The staff truly make you feel welcome too. The rooms are beautiful and take note of the “servitors” that remain on the hotel doors. I thought it was just a cool design but is actually a functional piece to hang clothes to be picked up and cleaned. I found it to be only slightly haunted with a few weird electrical paranormal experiences of lights turning on or off and the air adjusting itself. It made for a good story. The LA Dodgers were staying in the hotel so don’t be surprised if you run into a few celebrities in the lobby or the Blu bar. Very elegant and a must place to stay if you are in Milwaukee.

Very elegant and very spirited!  Happy Friday!!!!

Like what you read?  Find more stories by Terri Reid here.

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  1. Linda DeFoe
    July 27, 2018 at 8:27 am

    More pranksters than harmful! It sounds a beautiful place. Oh, I need a road trip !

    • Terri Reid
      August 21, 2018 at 10:39 am

      You’ll have to let me know how your road trip goes. 😉

  2. Maureen
    July 29, 2018 at 3:04 am

    Poor Tom

    • Terri Reid
      August 21, 2018 at 10:39 am

      I know, right?!?!?!

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