Memorial Union

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Memorial Union is supposedly built on an Indian burial ground.

Uh oh! Some may have moved inside.


The Memorial Union is an impressive multi-story Italian-Renaissance style building, which sits on the shoreline of Lake Mendota, in full view of their lakeside Union Terrace, that is big enough for 600 chairs.

Inside this beautiful building, one finds a 1,300 seat theater, dining facilities and eateries, a games room, a craft shop, a travel center, and a German-style tavern.

There are also 20 different meeting rooms and places for a variety of events; including elegant reception and banquet areas in Great Hall and Tripp Commons, which offer a beautiful atmosphere.

“Treasured by generations, Memorial Union is a place to come to socialize, relax, study and be nourished.”

Needed renovations to keep the building up to code were finished and all parts of the renovation were up and running by September of 2017.

Today, “Hundreds of epic events at the Union are planned by students on the Wisconsin Union Directorate Committees.”



The plans for this student union building were made in 1919, with the duo purpose of also being the University’s war memorial, which is why it is called The Memorial Union. In 1925, on Armistice Day; (known now as Veteran’s Day), University President Glenn Frank had the honor of breaking the ground with a shovel, in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 5,000. The building was opened in 1928.

“The Memorial Union is the recognition of the importance of the leisure hour. The Memorial Union building will give us a living room that will convert the University from a house of learning into a home of learning.” said President Glenn Frank.

1930s-1940s -The first “outing club group” made up of three students and three staff members, called the Wisconsin Hoofers came into being, which planned a skiing trip for its first event. By the 1940s, The Wisconsin Hoofers was a popular way to have fun. A Hoofer Sailing Club, with 450 students formed to receive dry land instruction.

In 1952, the original Union Building Committee incorporated themselves, becoming the Memorial Union Building Association, defined as a tax-exempt educational corporation, whose purpose and dedication was and is to focus on serving the Wisconsin Union and its members.

In 1962 – The Stiftskeller, an eatery and meeting place for students, opened in the previous Billiards Room, providing additional seating space. Murals were added here in 1978.

In 1971, the growing student body needed more room, so the Memorial Union opens Union South, which celebrates with the theme, “Fewer Walls, More Bridges.”

In 1983, The Memorial Union Building Association came up with the money and supplies to continue to make the beloved Union Terrace “sunburst” chairs, which have been popular with students who hang out on the Union Terrace, beginning in the 1940s.

In 1987, the Union Terrace was expanded. Before this expansion, most activity on the Union Terrace took place just outside the Rathskeller rotunda.

In 2012, it was decided to update and renovated the whole structure in two phases.  Phase One included: “Der Stiftskeller, the Paul Bunyan Room and the west wing programming spaces for the Wisconsin Union Theater, wheelhouse Studios, Wisconsin Hoffers and the Wisconsin Directorate.” This Phase One was completed in 2014.

Phase Two included the renovation  of The Terrace that opened again in spring of 2016.  The first floor and basement and loading dock opened up for use in late 2016. All the rest of the floors were reopened in September of 2017.



When structures are built on top of cemeteries or graves, spirits can become restless. Building on top of burial grounds is also never a good idea!

Mantauk Manor, NY (A large hotel was built right over graves of Native Americans, even grinding the bones to make mortar).

Del Campo Cemetery, CA (Roads and buildings were built on top of graves).

Belcourt Mansion, RI (A grave was missed, and the mansion was built on top of this grave).

Memorial Union, WI (Memorial Union is supposedly built on an Indian burial ground. It is a beautiful spot, near a lake, which would be a favored place to lay to rest loved ones. Building on top of burial grounds is never a good idea!

People who are heavily invested in a project or place that was so important to them, choose to spend their after-life there; not willing to let go just yet.

Cabbage Patch House, KY (The spirit of  Alice Hagan Rice can’t stay away and loves to watch).

Speed Museum. KY (The spirit of Mrs. J.P. Speed still keeps a hands-on involvement in the museum).

State Center for the Arts, PA (The spirit of Fred Osterstock, a prominent theatre manager in his day still has high standards and isn’t a shy personality).

Memorial Union, WI (Perhaps a spirit of a woman who was deeply involved with the Memorial Union building can’t let go just yet, wishing to keep an eye on the living).



Stairs leading from the first floor to the second floor:

The full apparition of an elderly woman, dressed in 19th century – early 20th century attire is seen by the living, standing on the top of this staircase for only a moment or two.

Second Floor of the Memorial Union:

The living have felt a strong, unseen, domineering presence.

This presence gets its chuckles by playing with clocks and watches – making their hands spin wildly around, in an untimely, non-logical fashion, sure to scare the living witnesses who are present.


Employees and students have had personal experiences  with the paranormal activity listed above under the  Manifestations section.

I couldn’t find any paranormal investigations posted on line; even on utube.



Probably So!

It seems to be, according to eye witnesses. While no hard evidence has been shared on line, there has been a long history of people having personal experiences  with these two spirits; one most benign and the other one a strong presence, fascinated with clocks! Perhaps an overly dedicated female spirit and a restless Native American spirit have made the Memorial Union their home in their after-life.



800 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706

The Memorial Union building can be found in the heart of the University of Wisconsin in Madison campus, on Langdon Street, which runs between N. Park Street on the north and N. Lake Street to the south. It was built on the banks of Lake Mendota, a beautiful spot indeed!



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