The grand, four-story, almost 8,000 square-foot, 1910 red-brick Victorian/Gothic/English Arts and Crafts style Brumder Mansion makes a glorious bed and breakfast, with a small theatre that is a venue choice for special events and concerts, as well as play productions. Tom and I became acquainted with Brumder Mansion when we stayed here for a night during our 2007 road trip through the Midwest, and fell under its spell. We wound up buying it in December of 2007, after Tom learned from the owner, Carol Hirschi, that she was going to sell it. We became the new owners in January of 2008.
The house has been restored to its former glory, with decor and furnishings that make guests feel as though they have traveled back in time, and are visiting an early 20th century well-to-do family. The first floor has all the rooms deemed necessary for a 1910 upper class family: a large parlor/living room, foyer, dining room, library, large kitchen, and the rather large recreation space, now being used as a theatre located in the basement area.
The architectural and artistic treasures are still intact. The original, hand-carved fireplaces in the dining room and parlor are in fine shape. The brick fireplace in the library was restored. The windows in the dining room are made of beveled glass. Two interior doors and the two large pocket doors on the first floor all have beveled glass. The small side windows on either side of the door, which opens into the foyer, have an intricate pattern of beveled glass, perhaps designed by the fellow mentioned below.
The crown jewel in the dining room is the stunning, handcrafted, Tiffany-stained glass and ceramic mosaic tiled fireplace, depicting a Rose of Sharon bush. It was designed by George Mann Neideken, an interior designer who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright. Neideken was hired to do this mosaic for the Brumder family, making this work of art one hundred and fourteen years old! We think Neideken also designed the stained glass windows in the parlor, and the stained glass windows by the second floor landing, just off the staircase.
The Brumder Mansion has a forced air system, heated by radiators, and kept cool during the sticky summer months by the six-sided air conditioners that add the oomph needed to keep everyone cool and comfortable. Free beverages and cookies, a large library of DVDs, and historical reading material are also among the amenities offered. All guest rooms have DVD players, DirecTV cable, and either gas or electric hand-carved fireplaces. Many of the suites have marble in the bathrooms, unique decor, lovely woodwork, and antiques. Four of the guest rooms have whirlpool tubs. The basement theatre gives people easy access to theatrical entertainment. Then, of course, the guests can look forward to a delicious breakfast.
There are five guest bedrooms in the Brumder. The main Gothic oak staircase, massive and hand-carved, takes visitors up to the second floor landing and three guest bedrooms/suites, all with private bathrooms (two of them, the George and Emma Suites, come with spa tubs and marble showers). The Gold Suite, also located on the second floor, is named for its gold and yellow décor. It features a Victorian parlor set of furniture, an Arts and Crafts antique queen-sized bed and dresser, simple-yet-elegant draperies, and a tall oak ornamental electric fireplace with fluted columns.
Another staircase on the second floor leads up to two more guest rooms on the third floor: the Marion Suite and the Gyneth Suite, both of which are very popular with couples. The Gyneth Suite, which was converted from side attic space, was where Tom and I first stayed, back in the summer of 2007. It has a side air conditioner, a marble-trimmed whirlpool bath tub, a private bathroom with a decorated marble shower, a hand-crafted gas fireplace along with lovely furnishings, and lovely period detail, including wood floors and paneling, and handsome antique style furniture.
Because George Brumder Sr. had the foresight to place a recreation center in the large basement instead of the typical third-floor ballroom, the Brumder has remained an attractive property throughout the years. It was never converted into apartments like many of the large Victorian homes in this area. The underground recreation area, which has its own outside entrance, has been put to good use over the years. It’s been a 1920s-30s party place, a high roller gambling speakeasy joint, a billiards/recreation room, a crafts room for children and youth, a café with live music, and a licensed, seventy-five seat theater for dramatic and comedic productions (started by former owner Carol Hirschi).
Our major contribution, besides replacing and upgrading a host of features of the mansion, has been to renovate the theatre in the basement in 2009. With its revamped stage, lighting, de faux painted walls, and recreated 1920s/1930s bar, it has not only become the exclusive venue for Milwaukee Entertainment Group (MEG) murder mystery and event plays, but is also a versatile rental space for special events, parties, weddings, receptions, music concerts, and many other small group activities. The theatre also has excellent acoustics, making it ideal for musical groups, interviews and other filmed events.
Business leader George Brumder Sr., who made his fortune publishing German language newspapers, reading material and sheet music, built this lovely, stately mansion in 1910, for his son, George Jr., who was in charge of the finances of the newspaper publishing business. Brumder Sr. died in May of 1910, and didn’t get to see the finished house (major disappointment). His son invested the money to finish the mansion after his father died.
George Jr. and his wife Thekla and their three children, Edward, George and Henriette, lived here starting in 1910. George Jr.’s mother, Henrietta, and sister, Emma, came to live with George and the family sometime in the teens. The Brumder family enjoyed this lovely mansion for 12 years, before having to sell it in the early 1920s, after Henrietta died. George and Thekla wanted to buy another home along Lakeside Drive in Milwaukee, and they couldn’t afford both houses. So George started to look around for a good buyer who would take care of his mansion.
The Brumders eventually sold their mansion to an outgoing fellow, Sam Pick, and his brother Ed. As long as the Pick brothers owned it, the mansion would indeed be well taken care of. However, what George Jr. didn’t know was that Sam and Ed Pick were working for Al Capone, setting up night clubs and speakeasies, hoping to get a piece of the black market liquor, gambling, and prostitution businesses in Milwaukee. The Brumders, who were devout Lutherans, would’ve been horrified if they had known what was happening at their beloved mansion.
The Brumder’s basement recreation room was the perfect place for a speakeasy, being a safe haven for those who wanted to party hearty; it would be a small-scale tryout that would lead later to Sam Pick’s more ambitious plans at Club Madrid. For now, all they needed was a private speak-easy for well-to-do high rollers in this space, which had an underground tunnel that led to the entrance so valued customers could come in unnoticed. Others had to come to the side door to be eyed by Joe The Enforcer, before being allowed in. The speakeasy had only one visit from the police, who just wanted a pay-off for looking the other way.
After mastering his underworld managerial skills beneath the Brumder, Sam opened up a larger, public speak-easy, The Club Madrid, an upscale building on Bluemound Road, just on the other side of the Milwaukee County line. It became a popular, public hot spot. It was a fancy nightclub that served fine food and offered a variety of musical talent, dancers and other unusual acts on the first floor, as well as black market booze. The gambling tables and other “services of a personal nature” were kept on the second floor. County authorities were easy to bribe.
Back at the Brumder Mansion, the old recreation center was still a favorite for high rollers who liked high stakes gambling, drinking and the bedroom action. As Sam Pick spent most of his time at Club Madrid, others were delegated to run the speak-easy at Brumder Mansion. Uh Oh! Not-so-nice to deadly events happened when Sam Pick wasn’t around, that again would’ve caused great anger, angst and regret for the Brumder family if they’d known.
After the repeal of prohibition, and the jailing of Al Capone, Sam had money issues, got behind on the mortgage payments, and nearly lost The Club Madrid. But he managed to beat that problem. In the mid-1930s, Sam was also forced to pay for music royalties for the songs the performers sang onstage at Club Madrid. At first he refused, but when collectors started removing tables from Club Madrid, he relented and paid what he owed.
Sam and Ed Pick sold the Brumder Mansion to raise funds to keep Club Madrid rolling along. Most probably the mob folks from Chicago had the secret basement tunnel sealed up with cement before doing so, as well as “taking care of business” (Oh dear). Later in the 1930s, the Pick brothers’ gambling operation was discovered at Club Madrid, and Sam and his brother were caught by law enforcement, who were no longer willing to be “on the take.” Sam and Ed managed to find a judge who only fined them $1,000 dollars, and gave them no jail time.
Though rival Milwaukee mobsters didn’t take too kindly to Sam’s Club Madrid, Sam had nine lives. He was shot and wounded in the late ’30s, but survived that attempt on his life. However, when a stick of dynamite was thrown into his beloved Club Madrid in the 1950s – probably when he refused to pay a protection fee – Sam was inspired to retire to Michigan a shaken man, mourning the loss of his pride and joy, Club Madrid.
The next owners of Brumder Mansion were an English couple, who bought it sometime in the mid-thirties. The upkeep on Victorian homes is high, so it wasn’t surprising that the Brumder was again put to work to earn its keep, this time in a legal way. Luckily, it wasn’t divided into apartments by the new owners, but instead turned into an upscale boarding house for the employees of a nearby company. Marquette students also rented rooms there.
Big changes were in store for the Brumder in 1948, when Our Saints Lutheran Church not only bought the old mansion estate right next to Brumder Mansion for the future site of their metropolitan cathedral, but also Brumder Mansion and eventually a block of 31st Street homes, up to Wells Street. Our Saviors Lutheran Church opened its doors in its newly built cathedral, in 1954. As Brumder Mansion was only two doors down, it was used by the church as a parsonage and for church activities. A psychedelic youth chapel was created on the second floor, in what is now George’s Suite, complete with recreated stained windows and a shag rug!
Our Saviors Lutheran Church started its own charity, called Next Door Foundation, in the late ’60s, in the Brumder Mansion. It became a place of hope and a positive place to be for children and youth. The rooms on the second and third floor were turned into offices, while the recreation area and first floor were put to good use.
At some point the recreation area was transformed into a Christian coffee house, called “The Catacombs,” during evening hours, complete with live music for entertainment; part of the church’s outreach program. In the later years of ownership, after The Next Door Foundation moved to bigger quarters, the church rented out the first and second-floor rooms for office space/meeting rooms. There was a radio station in the Gold Suite. A doctor had for a short time lived on the third floor, and saw patients in the library.
While the Brumder Mansion was protected and shielded by Our Saviors ELC Church as long as they owned the property, many of the other older homes in the Historic Concordia District were neglected by their owner, Concordia University, a college in the midst of the neighborhood. Concordia had ulterior motives. Their eventual goal was to tear down these homes and replace them with more college buildings. When people in the neighborhood and the city of Milwaukee found out, they raised a legal fight and managed to block them. In a fit of spite, Concordia took out the beveled glass and other valuable features from the homes and abandoned them, moving their college to the suburbs!
However, these historic houses were saved, thanks to the efforts of the non-profit group, West-End Development, which opened its offices in the home right next door to Brumder Mansion, a property also owned by Our Saviors Lutheran Church. Many of these unstable old homes were stabilized, and then sold to a new breed of homeowner willing to fix them up, and live in them. To encourage people to move in, the city of Milwaukee declared that the Historic Concordia District would become the official Bed and Breakfast district, which would allow homeowners to put their old homes to work to bring in an income. This was a great incentive to move into an accordion-type economic neighborhood, with a variety of people living there, buying a type of home which takes a huge commitment of time, money, passion and perseverance.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the upkeep, let alone the repair work, needed for the Brumder became more and more of a challenge for Our Saviors Lutheran Church in the mid 1990s. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the complete break-down of the central heating system, that caused the pipes to burst. Our Saviors had no choice but to put this now long-in-the-tooth, fixer-upper opportunity with a bad roof and white walls, back into the real estate market, a white elephant badly in need of TLC and a boatload of money for many repairs.
In 1996, the Brumder Mansion was bought and rescued for $75,000 by Carol and Bob Hirschi, representing this different breed of homeowner mentioned above, with the goal to rehabilitate this Victorian/Arts and Crafts Brumder Mansion to its former glory; transforming it from a commercialized building into a welcoming Victorian home bed and breakfast. They also saw the possibilities in the basement recreation area becoming the perfect place for the Hirschis to start their Cornerstone Theatre.
After replacing the central heating system, the old, leaky roof, and putting in new radiators and new plumbing, Carol and Bob began the pains-taking task of transforming and restoring the Brumder Mansion back into its pristine state of being, and restoring the oak woodwork and floors, etc.; something Carol still loves to do. To finance this courageous endeavor, Brumder Mansion opened its doors to be a “Bed and Breakfast,” in 1998, after she and Bob had transformed the rooms on the second floor. They had a lot of fun refurnishing the rooms with beautiful antiques, breathing new life into a place where the visitor is transformed into another era. They eventually transformed the third floor as well, opening up 2 suites and one standard room for their guests. All the rooms had private bathrooms.
Bob and Carol Hirschi also opened up their The Cornerstone Theatre, as planned in the Brumder’s old recreation room and Sam’s Speakeasy. It was a licensed seventy-five seat theatre, with a stage, risers, and a sound booth. The thespians used the rooms in the basement as changing areas. They also had special events, such as “Dinner with Charles Dickens” around Christmas, and the very popular “Halloween House Attraction.”
Tom and I have always loved old Victorians and are thrilled to be the owners of this fabulous Victorian/Arts and Crafts mansion, since January of 2008. We have kept the improvements coming, contributing to the décor, floor rugs, antique furniture, energy efficient windows, roof repairs, wall air conditioning units, lighting, maintenance upkeep, new front porch and sump pump, as well as renovating the theatre, determined to make the Brumder Mansion even better!
The Brumder Mansion Bed and Breakfast has a welcoming, friendly aura and atmosphere about it, that one feels immediately upon entering the foyer. Guests come here to have a romantic get away for two, and / or relax and recharge their batteries, enjoying the atmosphere, the amenities and the great breakfasts offered by our terrific staff, despite the visitations / residence of many spirits.
This is because no matter the reason why these spirits are here at Brumder Mansion, they too love this grand old building and have their own happy memories to remember. All the spirit people have varying degrees of good mid-western manners, knowing that the Carr family needs to rent guest rooms for income, and have plays and events in the theater as well. They hold no grudge against the people in this world, which is why we can have a regular business in this mansion!
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
While the first known paranormal experiences in Brumder Mansion were reported publicly by Carol Hirschi, the spirits found here have had some connection to this mansion for many years, according to some well-respected mediums who have come to visit Brumder Mansion, backed up with some hard evidence captured by trusted paranormal investigators, as early as 2005. Twelve and counting different paranormal groups of varying sizes have caught some great hard evidence all over the mansion, as well as having personal experiences. We have pieced information together and have the peace of mind, knowing who is here, why, and most of their names.
We had wondered, Why are so many spirits attracted to Brumder Mansion? Listed below are some of the reasons why so many spirits are restless, but find some peace here. Some have many reasons for staying and visiting.
Restoration of a building to its original state, in combination with the influx of antique furniture and items, which once belonged to other folks, can all act like environmental triggers, and greatly increases paranormal activity. The 2009 restoration of the theatre area in the basement, especially putting in the replica of the 1920s bar, really drew in the characters who once worked there during the speakeasy era.
Here is an overview of who’s here at the Brumder Mansion, either as a visitor or resident. A lot of them just like to visit at a certain time of year, while some are still residing here.
Suzanne, the House Manager, Lorraine, the Housekeeper, the Cook
Sam Pick’s Crew: Joe, Mike and 3 year-old Timmy, Doug, and occasionally Oscar and Jimmy
Sam and Ed Pick, Evalyn and young Sarah —former owners
Elizabeth and daughter Caroline — former owners
The Italian gambler, pouting in the coal room, but he manages to enjoy himself too
The Young prostitute — a 14 year old girl
The Good Doctor — very active in fall
Occasional Visitors — Children: Deena, and visiting Brumder children around the holidays
Other members of the Brumder family like to visit as well — They’ve never given their names to us, though they have to psychic investigators
People who love the place they call home, or have an attachment to a property through ownership, like to visit or stay. Sometimes they may not quite trust the living to take care of the property, and may stick around to supervise, or try to help.
The Brumder Mansion has several past owners who visit often for various reasons:
Sam Pick, Ed Pick, Evalyn and little Sarah, Elizabeth and 22 year old daughter Caroline, and it is strongly suspected but has never completely been proven that Mr. George Brumder Sr. and his wife like to visit a lot. We also think George Jr. likes to visit and keep an eye on the Brumder, feeling very bad about what happened here during the ownership of Sam Pick and Caroline.
Past employees who were dedicated to their duties, and loved what they did, may choose to continue in their duties, not letting the fact that they’re dead stop them.
The Brumder Mansion has two spirit house managers/housekeepers, from two different times, who are not on the payroll, but continue to do their jobs firmly in this world and its concerns; the House Manager Susanne, and Lorraine, the Housekeeper and cook.
Doug was the maintenance man for Sam Pick and loved his job.
Two of the fellas, Joe and Mike, loved their jobs as well, and had a lot of fond memories.
Before the age of preventative medicine, vaccines and shots, many children died before their time.
Evalyn’s daughter, Sarah died of a fever.
The Brumder extended family lost a lot of children.
Suzanne’s 10 year old niece, Deena, died early too.
Little Timmy, probably the son of Mike, died as well.
If a group of people enjoyed a camaraderie of some type in life, they often like to hang out together as spirits, around the same place, reliving their good times and memories. If one spirit member is stuck, they will visit often or stay to keep them company: “One for all, and all for One.”
The fellas of Sam Pick’s old crew — Doug, Mike, Joe, perhaps Oscar and Jimmy — still love getting together in the basement theater and catacombs, as well as in side storage rooms and the hallway that connects them, sometimes joined by Sam and Ed.
While Joe and Mike and Timmy are no longer stuck in this world because of some energy work and the help of a medium, Doug is still here all the time, busy with maintenance work. Joe and Mike visit often; they enjoy being the Brumder’s unseen security force!
During Prohibition, the Brumder Mansion’s theatre became a mob-run speak-easy for Milwaukee’s high rollers, with all the bells and whistles: alcohol, gambling and prostitutes. While it was a place of fun and good times for many, the fact remains that Gangsters + Gambling + Drinking = the chance for pain, of getting hurt or even being killed. It has always been risky business working for or around a gangster-based organization, with its strict behavior standards and hot-tempered members, many of whom are unforgiving and unsympathetic. Most of the spirits who like to stay or visit in the theatre and catacombs were victims of the mob in one way or another.
Prostitutes from all eras were murdered brutally at the hands of nasty customers, unforgiving supervisors and jealous suitors. The deaths of these women were unexpected, emotional, painful, and often violent.
One young lady rubbed someone the wrong way and paid a terrible price for it.
Patrons who misbehave: One Italian gambler who tried to cheat by not paying was caught and shot in the coal room (now a theater dressing room) of the catacombs by the enforcer, Joe.
Employees who were thought to be a liability to the organization: It is suspected that Caroline got in trouble with the mob and was killed as well, although it’s possible her death was due to illness. We only have EVPs to go on.
We think at least two of Sam Pick’s crew were killed by mob soldiers from Chicago, because it was felt that they knew too much.
Joe the enforcer, and Mike the guard and back-up muscle knew too much about the organization, and were killed. Joe was shot on the stairs by the side door, and died in front of the bar. We think Mike was knifed by the secret tunnel.
Bank heist money was possibly hidden at the Brumder Mansion for safe-keeping by some mobsters. When it disappeared, some in Sam’s crew were suspected without proof and killed anyway as insurance.
Doug, the Scottish maintenance man who wore many hats, may have been accused of stealing the money. The spirits of two others, Oscar and Jimmy, are also found in the catacombs, but we don’t know if they just loved their job or were killed too.
Victims of deadly crimes also sometimes have strong feelings that they can’t let go enough to pass over and be at peace. They wanting some sort of justice, or aren’t ready to leave just yet. Sometimes they express their feelings to the living, or try to continue to enjoy being in this world because they felt cheated from having a full life.
Mike’s attitude is that his death was just mob business, and he knew the risks in his line of work. He still wants to work though.
Joe the Enforcer is restless and upset because he felt he was unjustly executed, because he knew too much, which was a common mob practice. He’d done his job well, and feels he didn’t deserve to be killed.
The Italian Gambler thinks he didn’t deserve to be shot, and wants justice, so he pouts in the coal room, but he also enjoys watching the living.
The young prostitute is restless because of her murder.
Doug believes he doesn’t have time to dwell on what happened to him, so he just goes back to work.
People who suffer from tragedy, or are hurt by the actions of others and/or die from mishaps, are sometimes restless in spirit. Evalyn, possibly the wife of Ed Pick, was physically attacked by a former Brumder handyman who’d kept the grounds for the Brumder family before they moved to Lakeshore Drive. Evalyn became pregnant and died of a miscarriage.
When we bought the Brumder Mansion, we knew of only one spirit, but we were soon to learn from personal experience that there were more! After six years of psychic and scientific paranormal investigations and more personal experiences, we basically know who visits and/or stays with us, and all of their names except one newly discovered female spirit, the young, 14 year-old prostitute.
Those in spirit form also love the Brumder Mansion, but some of them get bored and like the attention of the living. When we have a flurry of unexplained activity, we rely on trusted paranormal groups like CPI, led by Dave Olson, Joe Couto and his current partner Kale Kelly. We have also gotten help from an energy cleanser and a medium, to evolve three ghosts who were in pain or afraid: Joe, and Mike and little Timmy, who had resisted becoming spirits.
Psychic mediums like Scotty Rorek, and our close friend Lori Manns, have communicated with various spirits, and we have kept the Brumder peaceful, as everyone is happy.
On occasion, we have paranormal classes and investigations led by experienced, trusted paranormal investigation groups, like Noah Leigh and P.I.M., usually around Halloween, where people can seek and meet our spirits, and the spirits can be entertained. Other paranormal enthusiasts come and rent rooms throughout the year, and investigate on the side.
The spirits who live here and visit make their presence known to us and our staff, to paranormal investigators they can relate to, and sometimes with people who want to make contact with them. Nothing evil or negative inhabits the Brumder. However restless they are, and whatever traumas they may have suffered in death, our entities are friendly and benign. They love the Brumder as much as we do!
Older female Entity — known as Suzanne: a strong spirit.
As we have actually met some people who knew her family and remember her, we now know that Suzanne was the Brumder family’s housekeeper, and went with them to their new house on Lake Shore Drive.
Several mediums have identified this female entity as a woman, 40-60 years old, with a thin build, blonde hair and sharp features. A witness who saw her twice described her as wearing clothes and a hair-style from an older, Victorian generation dating back to around 1910. She was the first entity to make herself known to Carol Hirschi and friends, and to us as well.
She is serious and dedicated, still keeping things in order, being helpful when she can.
Mediums/Psychics have seen her come down the stairs, going into the foyer or one of the downstairs rooms. Suzanne likes to know what’s going on in the mansion, sometimes acting as an unseen greeter.
While she goes all over the mansion when need be, she likes to reside in the Gold Suite, and keep an eye on the folks who stay in her room, and other guests and visitors as well, especially clumsy people who may break something. She has been known to follow them around like a mother follows her toddler.
She loves flowers and lilies, and the silver and tea cups. If she feels visitors may steal something, she also keeps a close eye on them as well.
Sometimes she gives off a sweet odor of lilacs.
Suzanne prefers to communicate through psychics and mediums, when she feels it is an important issue of concern, as she has a negative attitude toward paranormal investigators. Suzanne doesn’t like paranormal investigators that rudely invade her space, and thinks it’s nonsense to cooperate with them.
Her voice has never been captured on an EVP. She prefers instead to speak clearly in one-word thoughts into the living person’s ear.
One new investigator in the Gold Suite was so annoying that Suzanne whispered in her ear, “GO!” This sent the investigator fleeing down the central staircase in a hurry.
I had the personal experience of hearing her voice in my ear, while lying on the bed in the Gold Suite.
She is also apparently on the décor committee. She cares very much about renovation projects, letting the living know through a medium what she thinks would be lovely, as she did during the time we were planning to renovate the dark underground stage into a theatre and event center.
In 2009, we were planning to renovate the ballroom in the basement, making more inviting for events. We had several meetings in the basement area, and discussed various ideas. One weekend, a medium and her husband came to the Brumder for a weekend of quiet and rest. They stayed in the Gold Suite, not knowing that they were guests of Suzanne. After a great night’s sleep, Suzanne began talking to the medium about her concerns.
The medium came down the staircase, and set up a meeting with our innkeeper at the breakfast table. Through the medium, Suzanne expressed what she thought we should do; make it pretty and bright, and not cover the wooden floor with tile because she likes to watch the children dance. She was on a roll and gave the innkeeper complements on her efforts in the library, and went on to describe the rooms in the house next door in detail, describing the home as a happy house, giving décor advice there also. The medium had never been next door.
Suzanne has communicated through mind thoughts on many occasions.
Suzanne strongly dislikes dogs, as Carol Hirschi found out. When Carol spent the night in the Gold Suite with her dogs on the bed, she felt a strong unseen presence and heard a voice in her head, telling her to get the dogs out of the room in no uncertain terms.
Paranormal investigators have caught on tape and on film, a strange, gold orb.
Black, female Entity — Lorraine — a newly discovered spirit.
Lorraine worked for Sam Pick and others during the speakeasy days and loved being the housekeeper/cook at the Brumder Mansion.
Strong-willed, courageous, and feisty, she usually got her way when she was alive. As a spirit, it has been hard for her to share what was important to her with the living.
She was known to kick out the prostitutes and hung-over party-goers in the morning back in the day.
She now likes to be on the first floor: in the office area, the kitchen, the dining room, the parlor, and the area near the bathroom. She also loves the Emma Room and has long been a resident there, but has had to learn to share it with the living. The Emma was the last room that Carol had restored, and she didn’t really use it much for guests — not nearly as much as we do.
When a couple would spend the night in the Emma, she would sometimes on occasion have fun with them.
Some have felt a presence sit on the end of the bed.
With one couple, they saw a towel float by the bed.
Summer of 2012: Two omelets, would be taken out of the oven, piping hot for the guests who had stayed in the Emma. By the time they reached the table, the one going to the male guest would be still hot, but the other one for the female guest would be stone cold. This happened about FOUR times that summer.
She likes the storage cupboard in the Emma, a place where she had kept her most personal treasures.
We had put some storage in the big, built-in shelves that had an old lock. She apparently didn’t like that because the old lock in the door that we didn’t have a key for locked itself, and we had to remove the lock completely.
During a paranormal investigation, some female investigators made comments about the closet. One investigator announced that she was going to move all her stuff into this fine closet. They recorded a female sigh, in response to this comment. Lorraine later sat on the bed with the investigator, and hit the investigator in the arm!
Lorraine has learned to tolerate us in her kitchen, and has stopped showing her annoyance.
In the beginning years of our ownership, she would knock items off the shelves and the drying rack in frustration.
She is protective of the staff, the owners and their personal friends, feeling responsible.
During the early years when we owned the Brumder, our housekeeper was going up the central staircase, and her boyfriend was eying her derrière. Suddenly something punched him in the side.
When staying in the Emma, I was thinking, “What else am I forgetting?” Suddenly my water bottle jumped by itself off the ledge, landing right side up on the ground before me.
In an incident before a paranormal investigation class in November 2013, she made herself known to Psychic Medium Lori Manns. Lori, who is a close friend of the owners, was planning to join the investigation. She found herself stuck in the first floor bathroom because the old door lock had mysteriously jammed. While trapped there, she saw Lorraine appear before her. Lorraine warned her not to participate, so when staff finally got the door off, Lori retired to her room, taking the hint.
The fellas had some fun with the participants in the catacombs, making their electrical presences felt to class participants. Also, in the coal area that evening, they jerked the chair around that was in the old coal room when some unsuspecting, wanna-be investigators sat on it. They got their chuckles when one frightened participant left in a hurry!
She tries to be helpful.
In 2011, there was a missing chess piece from our beautifully carved Japanese chess set. I made a general announcement, asking the spirits to return it if they knew who had taken it. Lorraine took charge, and found the piece. As I stood in the foyer, I saw in the darkened parlor the black form of a female figure in a skirt walk by the chessboard into the breakfast eating nook. At first I thought it was our inn keeper, but she was at church. There was no one there when I investigated.
In the spring of 2011, my ailing mother spent some time at the Brumder Mansion. I was trying to get up early enough to go over to the other house and do my stationary biking. I was having problems doing so, so I gave myself a pep talk in the George Suite, about how I needed to get up when the alarm goes off. Well, my alarm went off as usual, but I also heard two different spirits, telling me to get up: a woman with a smile in her voice, and the matter-of-fact voice of a black woman.
Middle-aged female Entity — Evalyn
Thought to be a 30-40 year-old woman, the wife of a past owner of the Brumder. Possibly the wife of Ed Pick, but this is just a theory.
She is described as a quiet, sensitive, happy/sad soul, who enjoys sitting by the windows, looking out at the street below, when she isn’t helping the living.
She likes the Gyneth Suite, the Marion Suite, and the Gold Suite as well, though she too goes all over the mansion.
In March of 2010, one of our staff saw a misty/smoky presence above the bed in the Gyneth Room that lasted for a minute or so, before disappearing.
She has a big, kind heart, and likes to help and protect the living, which was something she was unable to do for herself and her child Sarah while alive. She has a soft spot for older people, and people with physical hindrances or ailments.
When a gentleman became ill in the Gold Suite bathroom, she came up to the Marion Suite, woke me up, and I saw a misty form appear by the chandelier, and she said my name, “Julie!”
In 2011-2012, she was captured on EVPs recorded on the third floor, though she spoke so softly it was hard to understand. She tried to tell people her name several times until she was understood.
She told us that her five-year-old child Sarah had died of a fever, and that she stays at the Brumder to see her daughter, who comes and goes at will.
In 2013, she finally felt comfortable and safe enough to tell the living for the first time what tragedies had befallen her. She spoke to a team of investigators whom she knew, made up of a psychic-medium, Lori Manns, and an experienced paranormal investigator, David Olson of CPI from Chicago. She told them that she had been attacked and impregnated by a former Brumder family handyman and that she had died from a “miscarriage” of that baby. Hard evidence from an EVP backed up what Lori was told.
Carolyn — the 22-year-old daughter of owner Elizabeth,
who we think bought the Brumder Mansion from Sam Pick. She goes all over the mansion, and likes the Gold Suite and the George Suite — the rooms where the owners have traditionally stayed while living at the Brumder.
Carolyn is fun-loving, and likes to borrow my hats and combs when we stay in the George Suite. She gets bored, and enjoys it when investigations take place most of the time.
One day, I was trying to find my straw hat, and I thought I had left it on the second bed of the George Suite. I asked her to please return it because I needed it to do yard work. Then I went down to breakfast. When I came back up to the room, there was my hat sitting in the middle of the bed. If it was there before, I would’ve seen it.
Several paranormal investigators have been buzzed in the theatre by a ball of white light that came from the hallway outside the laundry room and into the theatre.
Medium Scotty Rourek saw her wearing a bright yellow dress in the theater and she told him that she loved the newly renovated décor!
Several disturbing EVPs were caught on the stage that we think came from Carolyn, that indirectly indicate perhaps how she died, from disease or possibly foul play.
She likes to tease people who don’t believe in spirits. One cameraman working on a David Olson CPI investigation made the general announcement that he didn’t believe in ghosts. When it was time to leave, his jacket couldn’t be found anywhere. After several people had looked for it on the long, two-tiered metal coat rack several times, David Olson found it lying on top of the coat rack. If the coat had been there the whole time, someone else would’ve seen it right away.
On occasion, she responds to requests from guests. Recently, she must have had the Halloween spirit, and was playful with a young couple, who were staying in her room. As they were looking for a ghost, they asked her to show them a sign of her presence. She turned off all the lights right away. When one of the guests immediately asked her to turn them back on, the lights immediately popped back on.
Elizabeth, Caroline’s mother,
is a very polite older, southern lady who likes to sit in the library. She enjoys religious music, TV and Bible study. She first appeared in front of psychic medium Lori Mann, and introduced herself in the kitchen and office area.
She is a calming, warm influence, and her welcoming aura fills the foyer and second floor.
She likes to sit in the library, and the office area, and has gone all over the house.
An EVP was caught by CPI of her voice, during an early 2013 investigation. After an incident in December of 2012, in this world, that had scared all of our spirits, they were telling the CPI team to “Get Out!” Carolyn told them to “Quit it.” Elizabeth politely told them in a kind voice, “It is best if you leave!”
Male Entity or Two —
a supervising presence, perhaps one or two of the Brumders, or possibly Sam Pick, who is keeping an eye on what is happening here — and is currently pleased with our management.
One is a friendly presence, who can be playful, enjoys the parlor, is a resident of George’s Suite, and the theatre, and keeps an eye on the living.
Recently, he has been more willing to communicate with investigators and paranormal classes, giving evidence that he is an intelligent spirit, knocking on wood in response to questions, tapping on chairs, and was captured on an EVP when Vortex Paranormal investigated the room.
A staff member felt a cool breeze brush past her face and hair, and then billowed the curtain, as it rushed through the room. There was no logical explanation.
The Good Doctor Entity —
Described by a witness who briefly saw him as being a man around 60 years old with a beard, wearing a duster, who goes all over the mansion, but particularly likes the George Suite, the Marion Suite and the third floor.
There’s always a fun-loving jokester in every crowd, and this spirit fits the bill. His only concern is finding his medical bag.
Though not deemed to be a negative spirit, he can be a practical joker and a teaser of both the living and the other spirits in the mansion.
We think he was the one who pulled the vacuum cleaner and hair dryer plugs out of the walls, nudged staff and others whom he knows well, and likes to make playful noises in the rooms to get the attention of the living.
He can be curious, and was heard looking around a guest’s bag of medicines in the George Suite bathroom. We think it was this entity who recently peeked inside our long-time friend’s guitar case and examined his pretend sword while our friend slept in a bed on the third floor.
He has begun to play with investigators, when they ask for a sign of his presence.
It was probably this spirit who pushed the vent out of the Marion Suite wall during the filming of the Channel 6 Halloween spot with Tony and Jeffrey Seelman and Amy Lamb.
Maintenance Man Entity — Doug
a large man, according to his shadow, and of Scottish descent.
Doug was clever with his hands, and great at both fixing things and taking them apart. He was in charge of general maintenance of the Brumder Mansion, the coal furnace in the catacombs, and took care of the speakeasy as well, presumably helping with the high rollers and with set-up/take-down. He perhaps was involved with other shadowy business, which goes with working for gangster types.
The Tri-County Paranormal Group were by themselves in the Brumder at the time of this 2013 incident. While they took a 10 minute break, the group left their camera — with its fancy, parabolic mic, which is hard to assemble — sitting on the theater stage. When they came back the mic was totally dismantled and laid carefully on the floor, with the cable flipped over in such a way that it clearly couldn’t have fallen by itself.
Doug is the suspected jokester (though he was probably egged on by the other spirits) who watched the Tri-County crew put the mic painstakingly together.
This dismantling of the mic completely stunned these investigators. Only James, the group leader, knew how to assemble and disassemble it. While the camera was mysteriously shut off, they did catch the movements and noise of the “spirit perp”!
The investigators invited the spirits to go with them upstairs. In the Gold Suite, a male spirit breathed heavily into an investigator’s ear, and it was caught on tape. An investigator sitting on a bed felt the cold sensation of a little person (Timmy?) sitting on his lap. Another investigator saw a shadow walk into the George Suite, and a computer set on a chair in the hallway moved by itself.
Joe — Described as a tall, rather big fellow, a real “Big Louie” type.
He was the speakeasy’s enforcer, sent from Chicago to make sure patrons followed the rules, were taken care of so that all had a good time in a well-run and profitable joint.
When our mosaic artist was putting the finishing touches on the top of the bar, she and another person heard a man yell “Help!” and then an expletive, just around the corner on the back staircase by the side door (Joe was telling them how he died).
During a Paranormal seminar, all who were there heard a male voice coming from the bar.
Before he was helped to evolve from a ghost to a spirit, Joe liked to stand in the left corner of the theatre, where he could watch the plays and keep an eye on the crowd for us. Since then he still visits and probably does the same, just not in pain anymore.
(Note: A ghost is an entity who has died, but can’t move on to the other side and become a spirit because of a variety of issues and unfinished business in this world. A spirit can come and visit on this side, and go back to the spirit world, while a ghost feels compelled to stay and try to work through what is bothering them.)
On occasion, he has been known to forget his good Midwestern manners, and lightly grab the derrière of women. During a performance of one of our Murder Mysteries, “Speakeasy of Murder,” he did this to one of our actresses, who was playing a bar hostess.
He did it again by the huge boiler by the door to the theatre behind the bar area in the catacombs. A female guest had come down without permission or a guide, taking pictures like mad. No one is allowed to go there without an escort (provided by one of the owners) or a paranormal investigator. She experienced a scary quick grab by our unseen joker.
Mike — Another well-built, strong, stocky fellow was the security guy,
who had a wicked-looking gun, and still likes to stand near the sealed up tunnel in the catacombs when he visits. He helped Joe, the enforcer. Mike has a bit of a temper, but also a real soft spot for three-year-old Timmy, another spirit who sticks with Mike when he (Timmy) isn’t hiding in the closets of the rooms.
In 2008, a paranormal investigator caught an EVP in the catacombs. A gruff male voice, since identified as Mike, said with pride, “Look what he can do!” Then, two kicks on the metal boiler were recorded.
During a black box session in the parlor in 2008, we heard his tough voice say to the other spirits gathered, “Leave your guns at the door!”
In 2012, an investigator from New England asked who was present while he was sitting in the theater with our house medium Lori. He recorded two gruff male voices who clearly said their names: “Mike” and “Joe.”
In 2013, David Olson and his CPI group were investigating in the theatre. He asked a general question, “How do you like having Chicago policemen in the theater?” David and a CPI member, Victor, are both Chicago policemen. David saw a quick shadow moving in the corner of the room, and then felt a slight burning on his neck, like an electrical zap, which caused a temporary red mark.
Dave said, “Was that you?” And Mike’s voice was recorded, saying, “Yeah, that was me!”
Since buying the Brumder Mansion, we have experienced many personal experiences. We’ve heard ghostly voices on EVPs, seen apparitions, had items disappear and then reappear, and more. So have members of our staff, and some guests who wanted contact. Paranormal investigators have had many personal experiences during their investigations over the years as well. Investigators have come face to face with black and white masses in the theater and catacomb storage areas. A few, like Joe Couto, have even seen apparitions that looked very real.
Psychic investigation teams or individuals never leave disappointed, because some spirit is usually willing to come forward and communicate with them, especially if Tom or I have inadvertently provoked someone.
When we produced a new original play, “Speakeasy of Murder,” Sam was very upset because the opening monologue from one of the characters named him as a murderous gangster. He tried to get our attention by moving furniture around in the theatre. When a psychic team from Chicago came to film for a pilot, the psychic medium was able to talk to Sam and hear his grievance — that he wasn’t a murderous gangster, but a businessman. We changed the script, and made it a point in the play, and at other times too, to describe Sam as a businessman.
All who investigate at the Brumder must sign a paper stating that they accept the rules of investigations done in our mansion, to avoid the kind of trouble we have had in the past with investigators, who like to provoke and be disrespectful toward our spirits in their quest to get proof of their presence.
This provoking in turn has caused problems for us with certain spirits, to the point where we had to bring in an energy healer to work with a medium and free these entities:
Joe the Enforcer was freed from the pain of remembering what had happened to him, letting him become a spirit, no longer a ghost trapped in the basement because of the circumstances of his death.
Mike, who was strongly connected to Joe, and little Timmy, were filled with guilt again over what they did while alive because of the taunting of the investigators from this group. Mike was no choir boy, and Timmy perhaps thought in his three year old mind that he didn’t do what he was supposed to do. They were also evolved to be spirits, no longer afraid of the other side because of the deeds they did do while alive, perhaps being reminded about what they did because of the taunts of these investigators.
We are very careful about who is allowed to come in and investigate, as we know who is here and why, and we don’t want to needlessly upset our spirit people with folks who just want evidence and don’t care how they capture it.
A boat load of hard evidence has been captured over the years by many experienced paranormal investigators and people who are interested in communicating with the spirits who the spirits like and can relate to; our spirit people have their standards. Evidence caught includes many intelligent EVPs, all over the mansion, lots of intelligent voices answering questions, light anomalies caught on digital tape, and even a few trying to manifest, especially in the George Suite and Brumder Theatre.
Our spirits like communications gadgets of all kinds: flashlights, various types of voice boxes, and other equipment that can reveal their presence, especially when ion pumps are used. What is NEVER ALLOWED at Brumder Mansion are séances and Ouija boards.
We have had good results by pairing a psychic medium with an experienced paranormal investigator. Recently, in 2013, two female spirits in separate sessions were able to finally tell what had happened to them: the young prostitute and Evalyn. Hopefully, they have more peace now.
A huge YES INDEED!
The most spiritually active time of year seems to be between August and December, though some spirits are active all year long. The spirit people who live and visit here aren’t on the payroll, and can choose when and when not to communicate. When the spirits are treated with respect, and are inspired to play and interact, EVPs are captured, and on some occasions activity is filmed by our more experienced investigators. Many people have had personal experiences.
In some investigations when paranormal investigators and psychics/mediums have been able to engage and draw out the spirits, new information about them has been brought to light, making the reality of living with them much more comfortable for the living. We are grateful for all the information that has been gathered on our spirits, which gives us peace of mind.
Brumder Mansion Bed & Breakfast can be found on West Wisconsin Avenue, a main street that runs through downtown Milwaukee, past Marquette University, and parallel to Highway 94. The Brumder Mansion is on the corner lot of North 31st and West Wisconsin, in the Historic Concordia District, a neighborhood of old Victorians and newer apartments. Some older homes have been converted into apartments, while others remain as private homes or are used for commercial purposes – like B & Bs.
Wisconsin Avenue was originally known as Grand Avenue, a street that was lined with huge, glorious Victorian mansions, one of the first suburbs of Milwaukee. Around the turn of the century, it was commonly believed that it was healthier to live away from Lake Michigan, so areas about a twenty minute buggy or car ride from downtown Milwaukee became the places to build luxury mansions. Though many mansions were torn down in the 1970s and replaced with apartments and commercial buildings, some grand buildings and Victorians, such as the Pabst Mansion, still grace this neighborhood, which is also known as The Historic Concordia District.
GHOST HUNTING AT THE BRUMDER
The Brumder Mansion is a favorite destination for ghost hunters and paranormal investigators. Here is just a small sampling of quotes and photographs from some of their more recent explorations.
The Northern Alliance Of Paranormal Investigators hit pay dirt during their first investigation, bringing sensitive investigators that our entities warmed up to! They gathered at least 5 EVPs, and had personal experiences as well. Cheri commented in her report, “It is a very warm and welcoming building. A great place to have a brush with the paranormal in a friendly manner. It didn’t take long for them to become curious and make themselves known.”
… Cheri Esperon, Director: The Northern Alliance Of Paranormal Investigators.
“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 wispy 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.”
“Despite the paranormal activity in the premises, everything is of a benevolent nature and you won’t regret visiting with Susan and George, Jr.!”
Since 2009, ghost-hunting groups have documented paranormal activity and/or captured EVPs on 8 different occasions at the historic Brumder Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn.
… Rich Newman, Ghost Hunter and author of “The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide”.
Nationally-recognized psychic and ghost hunter Jeffrey Seelman has personally had several otherworldly encounters at the Brumder.
“I’ve experienced 7 friendly spirits here,” he said in a recent interview.
Photos of Ghost Hunting Groups
Ghost Hunters working in the Brumder Mansion Theatre.
Another ghost hunter, Scotty, describes his
paranormal encounters on the Brumder theater stage.
Ghost Hunter and author Rich Newman
speaks about the haunted Brumder Mansion.
Ghost Hunter Kelly describes her
paranormal encounters at the Brumder.
— Live Haunted Radio Show Broadcast
From the Brumder Mansion —
For a live radio broadcast – Jeffrey Seelman
interviews Adam at the Brumder Mansion.
Ghost hunter Joe Couto is also interviewed
on a live radio show.
Jeffrey Seelman interviews Julie Carr about the
evidence presented by Ghost Hunting groups.
— Photos From a Ghost Hunting Event —
If you’re interested in encounters with the spirit world, you owe it to yourself to visit the Brumder Mansion.