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American Ghost Walks, which hosts three ghost tours in Madison year-round, always starts its Capitol Square Ghost Walks across the street from The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.
The downtown Great Dane used to be the Fess Hotel for 130 years, and the basement originally housed stables for 60 horses, says Lisa Van Buskirk, who is the “Ghost Host With the Most” for American Ghost Walks.
When Mike Huberty started American Ghost Walks in Madison, The Great Dane was the first place he stopped when planning the tour. He asked a waitress if the restaurant — one of the oldest buildings in Madison — was haunted. Immediately the person he talked to said she knew of two ghosts, but the manager knew of many more.
Now, Van Buskirk consistently hears about ghost encounters at The Great Dane from employees when she asks.
“I truly believe that everybody believes in the story they told us,” Van Buskirk says.
Van Buskirk says the spookiest area in the entire restaurant is downstairs. There is a room, known as “the spooky room,” that’s so creepy some employees refuse to enter it.
Van Buskirk says an employee told her that late one night two bartenders were counting money in the pool hall area and it seemed as if someone was knocking down the pool cues, one by one, but no one was there. There was also random ringing in the middle of the night on an in-house phone when the remaining people in the building were together and no employee would have been using the phone.
Van Buskirk says one of the best stories concerns a Great Dane manager who was in her office alone late at night when a Sharpie hanging from a string randomly started to move. Later, the Sharpie started going in circles, whipping around really fast.
“If it’s not busy you might want to ask your server if they have any stories,” Van Buskirk says.
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