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(Back to Wisconsin Haunted Index, Paranormal Madison)

The Bar Next Door


Haunted Place - The Bar Next Door
(see the paranormal video)


222 E. Olin Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53713.

(608) 256-9430 * Web-site


The Bar Next Door is located in an unpopulated area of Madison between John Nolen Dr. and Quann Olin Parkway, just north of Alliant Energy Center and Expo Pond, just East of Quann Park, not far from the Coliseum.


Tom and I hunted down THE BAR NEXT DOOR on E. Orlin Avenue What we found was a funky, long in the tooth but full of character, 2 story brick building with two tower-like structures, adorned with a little Ivy. It was closed, but taking a peek inside the front window, one sees booths with green cushions and a bar area, with a 1930s aura about the place. One source said that the original back bar, fireplace are still there and the entrance to the old tunnel still in tact. On the second floor, there is a large banquet room which seats 50 and office space.

THE BAR NEXT DOOR building was constructed in 1929, with ulterior motives in mind. This building was built by Chicago Irish mob figure, Roger "The terrible" Touhy, as not only to be a legitimate roadhouse, The Wonder Bar, but to also be a distribution center for illegal booze/beer and slot machines in the Madison area and areas farther north, as well as being a safe house for traveling gangsters. The Touhy brothers, whose gang was based in Des Plaines, Illinois, added some touches to the building to make this roadhouse into a fortress, in case it needed to be one. With Al Capone as a ruthless rival and a buyer for their beer, it needed the precautions taken.

It's not surprising then, that custom-designed features were added, including turreted booths in which no one's back was to the front door, made bullet proof, bomb proof, had bulletproof glass, round lookout windows in some rooms, hidden compartments under the windowsills to store Thompson submachine guns, hidden compartments in other parts of the building and a secret tunnel for hasty escapes. All these items would come in handy, in case of a siege attack from cops or other mob soldiers from competing gangs, wanting to muscle in on the Touhy's black market business success.

While Roger Touhy built this building, his brother Eddie Touhy ran both businesses; the roadhouse and the distribution of the illegal beer/slot machines.

Throughout the years after the demise of the Touhy gang The Wonder Bar continued on as a legitimate business, probably run at first by surviving family members, becoming at some point, the first cigar bar, featuring stogies with beer. In 1993, The bar changed hands and became THE BAR NEXT DOOR, which still offered cigars but returned to a more traditional format.

At some time, THE BAR NEXT DOOR was bought by the company who owns the The Coliseum Bar, and now have added the Touhy's arch enemy's name to the title of the Touhy's roadhouse: Capone's Bar Next Door, according to their web-page for the place. I bet some folks are spinning in their graves! Hopefully the owners will do some improvements to the bar, which needs some TLC.



By 1934, the Touhy gang was finished, with eleven members behind bars and three shot dead. The Wonder Bar survived at least one shootout from the gang's enemies. Despite the bullet-proof precautions, people did die here. It is said that a human body was buried behind the fireplace in the upstairs banquet room, a casualty of such a shootout. It is thought that Eddie Touhy's remains are laid to rest here. In the FBI report, Eddie Touhy wasn't mentioned at all, because he was probably already dead; disappearing behind the fireplace, to hide his demise from enemies.


Olfactory Experiences:

The living have smelled the following aromas which last about an hour before going away, at a time when there is no logical source in this world for these odors: Strong body odor caused by sweating, citrus aromas, and a musty smell in the air.

Auditory Experiences:

Footsteps have been heard coming down the stairs late at night after the bar has closed.

Sounds of rattling glasses, and loud thuds.

Tactile experiences:

Staff have felt a presence following them in the stairwells.

Staff have been poked in the back by an unseen finger.

Visual experiences:

Chairs have the habit of moving around after the bar is closed and void of human life, as if being used for a gathering or discussion.

Portraits have lifted themselves off wall, falling to the ground. (Entities showing displeasure in the decorum?)

Bottles and cigar boxes have been known to be knocked off secure shelves by an unseen force.

Cigar boxes have been seen to be moved around the display case, as if being checked out by an unseen, but interested presence who would probably like to try one.

Doors have slammed closed without the benefit of a wind or human hands.

Shadow people have been spotted by staff and customers alike.

After closing time, staff have seen a male apparition wearing a 1930s style, soft felt hat, known as a fedora, popular among gangster types, and a long coat. A female apparition accompanies him, described as having long red hair, wearing a white dress.


Yes Indeed! There are plenty of eye witness accounts from management, staff and patrons. Probably the entity of Eddie Touhy and his main squeeze are still keeping an eye on things. Other entities of Touhy mob soldiers/visting gangsters are probably here as well, still working for the Touhy family organization, following the staff around, perhaps poking them in the back for chuckles.



prairieghosts.com * cityguide.aol.com
paranormalresearchgroup.homestead.com * fbi.gov * thecoliseumbar.com