You could call Anna Lardinois a Milwaukee ghost expert.
She’s the founder of Gothic Milwaukee, leading local ghost tours and penning several books about Milwaukee ghosts.
She sat down with WTMJ’s Libby Collins this Halloween weekend on WTMJ Conversations.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed below, courtesy of eCourt Reporters, Inc.
LIBBY COLLINS: Let’s talk about some of the most well-known haunted places in Milwaukee. Let’s start with a place where most of us have been, and if we haven’t, we want to be there, and that’s the Pfister Hotel.
ANNA LARDINOIS: I love the Pfister Hotel. You might know that I was the Pfister narrator in 2018, so I got to spend a year being really close to the hotel.
As famously haunted as it is, the Pfister staff will claim that the only thing that haunts the hotel is the spirit of hospitality. But luckily for me, there’s lots and lots of stories about people having haunted experiences at the hotel, and it delights me.
You probably are most familiar with the major league baseball stories with the hotel. It’s pretty well known that if you’re a Milwaukee Brewer and you stay at the hotel, you’re going to sleep like a little angel, but if you’re in town to play against the Brewers, it might be a tough night. And a lot of people blame that on the Pfister Ghost. There have been so many Major League Baseball stories in the hotel that ESPN has done an exposé on the hotel, so has Sports Illustrated.
Most recently the summer of 2018, we might all remember that the Cardinals were staying at the hotel and their pitcher woke up in the middle of the night, jumped onto Instagram and claimed that he was just touched by the Pfister Ghost. Then the next day, he played poorly and blamed it on the Pfister Ghost. And that continued the legend. It’s very exciting for people like me.
On my tours. I often tell the story of Carlos Gomez and his haunted experience at the hotel, because a lot of people know who that is, and I think it makes it a little bit more fun.
But if you want to branch out beyond Major League Baseball, you might know that just during this last Summerfest, there was a performer named Megan Thee Stallion who stayed at the hotel and she did an Instagram film on her haunted experiences in the hotel. So, that’s very current and it is just such a fun story.
I like to think of Charles Pfister as Milwaukee’s perennial host. He is just giving people what they want. If they want it spooky, it seems to be spooky for them. He’s rooting for the Brewers. How do you not love an apparition who just wants you to have an amazing time at his hotel and wants our hometown team to win?
LIBBY COLLINS: Can we go back to Megan Thee Stallion?
ANNA LARDINOIS: Sure.
LIBBY COLLINS: What did she have on her Instagram post?
ANNA LARDINOIS: So, Megan Thee Stallion, while she was staying there, discovered that the Pfister is Milwaukee’s most famously haunted building, and she and her team did a little ghost hunting there, and you can go to her Instagram and see the little video that they created. And it looked like they had a lot of fun with it, they have some Scooby-Doo music. And they claim that they had an encounter within a spirit on the second floor of the hotel.
Now, when people are looking for spirits in the hotel, they want to go to the old part. Staying somewhere on Floors 2 through 6 is going to give you a better opportunity for that spooky experience, because the spirits seem to be active in the older part of the hotel.
Now, sometimes people claim that they see an apparition of Charles Pfister in the Imperial Ballroom just hanging out in the background, watching over things in his beautiful hotel to make sure everything is going to plan. And, of course, that delights me.
LIBBY COLLINS: I can see why.
All right. Let’s talk about someplace else that certainly a famous place where a very famous family lived, and that was the Pabst Mansion. Now, you claim that that is really haunted.
ANNA LARDINOIS: Well, I don’t claim that that’s haunted, I am just retelling reports that other people have documented. So, that’s what I do. I’m not a ghost hunter at all. And these stories came to light through their volunteers, which I think is a really fun way to connect with the events that are going on behind the scenes.
So, we all know the story of Frederick Pabst, the hardworking man who worked as a captain on the Great Lakes and then met the enchanting Maria Best and then went to work for her father’s brewery and eventually becomes the head of Pabst Brewery. And he decides that he is going to build a magnificent house that is a match to his status and wealth, and it’s the Pabst Mansion that we still enjoy to this day.
And some people believe that he, a man who died in his home and his funeral was in the music room of the mansion, may still linger in that location. And he sometimes makes himself known in strange ways. So, sometimes it’ll be through tradespeople who are doing maintenance on the home. They’ll report that they see the presence of a stout man with a pronounced goatee being very interested in the repairs that they’re making. And people think that that is the spirit of Frederick Pabst just watching over his house.
And there’s a great story from volunteers about a day that they were trying to get ready for an event in the home and one of the volunteers was trying to put candles in a candelabra, and they’d been using this candelabra for over a hundred years, but the candles kept falling out, and things just weren’t going right. And, you know, everyone was getting frustrated, and then someone noticed, hey, isn’t today’s date the birthday of Captain Pabst? And once they all stopped what they were doing and acknowledged his birthday, that seemed to change the atmosphere of the room. The candles suddenly fit beautifully in the candelabra, everything seemed to work fine, and maybe it was just the captain reminding them of why they were there.