Some spirits are here because they are not ready to give up the life that they enjoyed.
Disagreeable, nasty people who act badly while alive, sometimes become stuck…
The Rave/Eagles Club is described as a four story, monumental granite block structure; ” an 180,000 square foot, seven-level, live entertainment complex,” built in 1926. It is one of Milwaukee’s distinguished landmarks.
The architecture is adorned with stone carvings around the top of the building, and at the round tops and square bottoms of the lovely windows which grace the front of the building. The covered, enclosed seating area on the roof-top also has the round window tops in its front windows.
This enclosed seating area has an open-air patio where people can see the glorious view, get some fresh air and smoke if they want. There is a stairway from this down to the elegant, restored Eagles Ballroom.
The top floor Eagles Ballroom is a site to behold, a wonderful reminder of its elegant history. It has a huge, 25,000 square foot dance floor, that is surrounded by covered private boxes on the first and second level, which is held up by pillars with intricate trim. The elegant domed ceiling with fancy dentils and eagle sculptures and themed decor, provide an elegant atmosphere in which to enjoy the musical group performing on the large stage.
Other Stages Include:
The Rave Bar – “Wisconsin’s only ALL AGES small showcase venue.” This room has terrific acoustics, which make any band sound great, a lovely, wooden horseshoe bar, and pictures on the wall of all the new bands that have played there, making their debut. Such bands as Dave Matthews Band, Third Eye Blind, Smashmouth, Blink 182, Creed, Pearl Jam and Tantric have performed on this stage. To see the newest bands, go to their website.
The Rave Vibe Room – Located just off the main lobby, featuring a smaller dance floor in front of the stage, with little four seat tables around the perimeter. It has a Beautiful mirrored bar area, and offering a “flourished decor.”
The Rave Hall – is a two level concert hall, and is our second favorite stage! It is a two level concert hall. The main floor is described as being an expansive general admission area, which offers a clear view of the performers on stage from every vantage point. Young people and those who like to dance, enjoy listening, participating in the concert amidst the action.
The second floor is a wonderful, wrap-around circular balcony, with seating along the protective iron rail. We love to sit here and listen to the bands. There is a bar just off the second floor, so if it is a little loud for older ears, the concert goer can go and get a drink, and still hear the band playing.
The Eagles Hall – Located in the basement of the building. It is one-level, Miami-style underground concert hall offering a unique hardwood floor area, spectacular lighting system AND terrific acoustics. Seating is available around the hard floor area. It is a hard rock and indie improvisational musicians who are heard in this venue.
The Penthouse Lounge & The Eagles Club are two other stage areas where bands perform.
On February 6th, 1898, the Order of Goodfellows was started by six men who wanted to help the under-privileged. In 1899, they changed their name to The Fraternal Order of Eagles. The Milwaukee Fraternal Order of Eagles was formed in 1901, by men who were involved in the theatre, including actors, playwrights and stagehands. They became the largest Eagles Club in America by 1941, and by 1955, this building was the home of the Eagles Club National Headquarters.
Designed by Russell Barr Williamson, who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright, this Eagles Club building was built in 1926, and considered the finest and grandest Eagle’s building in the United States, under the organization of the Milwaukee chapter of The Milwaukee Fraternal Order of Eagles; a growing active group in the Milwaukee community.
Besides hosting elegant ballroom dances, and social events in the most glorious ballroom, there was also a variety of lounges, an athletic club with a two story gymnasium, bowling alley, boxing ring, basketball court, a pool hall, swimming pool, a barbershop, a radio station and a cafeteria located on the other three floors and basement.
In 1939, the idea of using the building for music presentations took hold, reinventing its purpose. The grand ballroom became a popular venue for big band music, such as band leaders Guy Lombardo and Glen Miller and their orchestras. The ticket holder could listen and dance at the same time, or buy a box seat, watch the band, and the people dancing below.
Soon, other types of music, theatre and performing arts also offered shows and concerts in the large, elegant ballroom; from 1939 through the mid-sixties. Comedians like Bob Hope and Red Skeleton did stand-up comedy. In 1959, young people who bought a $1.50 ticket to the Winter Dance Party, were treated to the music of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Big Bopper, Dion and the Belmonts, and Richie Valens.
In 1964, The Eagles Club had its first rock concert, with the Dave Clark Five performing on the ballroom stage. The 1970s brought even more famous groups and people, such as Eric Clapton, Crosby, Stills and Nash and other rising rock stars.
When the Athletic Club was closed, a homeless men’s shelter opened up temporarily in the basement area, providing shelter for the destitute which is life-saving during the freezing winter months.
Though the “joint was jumpin’” with entertainment in the ballroom, it didn’t bring in enough money to stop the building from becoming a fixer-upper opportunity. By the late 1980s, The Eagles Club was in a state of disrepair and The Eagle Club put it out on the real estate market, after getting it listed on The National Register of Historic Places, in 1986. This would give this grand building some protection from land developers who would’ve loved to tear it down. The 1970s-1980s era was not a good time for historic structures in Milwaukee, especially along W. Wisconsin Ave. A lot of old historic buildings were torn down.
In late 1992, the rather frumpy, forlorn Eagles Club was rescued when it was bought by Wauwatosa businessman Anthony J. Balestrieri and his wife, Marjorie, who performed in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. They began the long process of restoring the historic beauty of the elegant ballroom and interior art, as well as the outside facade.
They also renovated other areas into concert venues; creating a 150,000 square ft multi-stage musical venue that had seven different stages. In the mid-1990s, opened with a new name, The Raves/Eagles Club to help attract the younger crowd.
The Rave/Eagle Club then came into being, opening with multiple stages that could have seven bands at once; taking what had worked somewhat, and expanding it to bring in a healthy income. Today, The Rave/Eagle Club is still going strong, and has proven to be a money maker.
Groups and soloists who perform country music, rock, heavy metal, new age and my favorite, acoustic, play at one of the stages located in this building; depending on how well-known they are, and what kind of following they enjoy. The people alive in this world are not the only ones who enjoy the music; so do the building’s spirit people.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
People who died suddenly from an accident or illness, sometimes are not ready to give up the life that they enjoyed while alive, especially in the arts. Sometimes these dissatisfied spirits like to stay and watch other artists perform in the spirit’s favorite venue that they had good times at as a performer, finding some peace themselves.
The Winter Party mentioned above, that took place in The Eagles Ballroom in 1959, was the last performance of Buddy Holly, right before he was killed in a plane crash on February 3rd, 1959, along with Richie Valens and the Big Bopper.
A 17-year-old young man died in the pool after suffering a heart attack.
Disagreeable, nasty people who act badly while alive, sometimes are stuck in the area or structure where they did their negative behavior.
A mean abusive director of the men’s shelter used to bully the men who stayed here.
Pools and kids together can result in tragedy if children aren’t watched carefully.
At least two children drowned in the pool, causing the Athletic Club to finally close down.
People who enjoyed their jobs during their lifetime, sometimes continue to work even when they are dead.
The Basement Area and The Eagles Ballroom are the two most haunted areas in the building, though living staff members are treated to the full paranormal sports package at closing time, when the crowds have gone home from their evening at The Rave/Eagles Club.
The Basement Area – Home of the former men’s shelter
The entity of the vile shelter manager is thought to be the source of heavy energy, negative feel and icy cold spots felt by many, usually in the wee hours of closing time.
Other Shadow people have been reported by staff and a few band members packing up for the night after performing in The Eagles Hall.
The Pool Area
Entity of a little girl roams around the hallways behind the coat-check area in the basement. Her laughter is heard. Her presence sometimes gives the living a brief sense of dread.
Staff have heard shuffled foot steps, smelled a strong odor of bleach in the basement where the pool is located.
The Eagles Ballroom
Apparitions have been felt and seen in the ballroom mostly when just the musicians are rehearsing, or when the crowds have gone home, or the ballroom doesn’t have a show and it is empty for the evening. The Eagles Ballroom is reserved for well-established bands that can draw in a huge crowd.
An employee of The Rave/Eagles Club was standing on the floor of The Eagles Ballroom, making sure that the people going to the roof patio didn’t “get lost” and go into the Eagles Ballroom by design. We asked him if he had experienced anything paranormal. He told us that one of his fellow workers had seen what they thought was a man, standing in one of the second floor boxes located above the Eagles Ballroom. He called security and when they approached this person, he ran down the aisle but disappeared before the staff person that was behind him and the security person cutting off his escape could try to grab him.
Bands have heard a presence or seen an entity watching them play on this stage during rehearsals before The Rave/Eagles Club is opened to the public.
Other Places in the Building
Staff who were cleaning up after closing hours have seen entities of children playing in a group.
People hear voices coming from places where no one alive was there. Happy sounds of children playing or the distressful noise of children crying unhappily are heard as well.
On the other musical venue stages located throughout the building, bands have noticed this one entity who likes to watch them practice, or when not many people in the audience were present.
A big Yes Indeed! A host of characters from The Rave/Eagles Club’s past still stay in its structure, from the top floor down to its basement and underbelly for a variety of reasons. The music-loving entity who enjoys seeing the musicians play for free because of his status of being a spirit person, prematurely retired from this world, could be Buddy Holly or any of the musicians who died with him in the plane crash.
For years, many experiences have been reported by staff who work here, and the bands who perform on the stages.
One group on a ghost hunt recorded a voice, saying “Get Out! Get out now.” See the Youtube video.
Also on their tape, they recorded distinct whispers of unseen presences.
The Rave/Eagles Club
2401 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53233
The Rave/Eagle Club is located on W. Wisconsin Ave., between N.24th St. and N.25th St., almost a half a mile west of the Pabst Mansion, and about an eight minute walk from the Brumder Mansion. It is a three minute walk from Central United Methodist Church and a McDonald’s.
- YouTube video: Part 1: Ghost Hunt at The Rave in Milwaukee
- YouTube video: Part 2: Ghost Hunt at The Rave in Milwaukee
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr