Bumps in the Night
Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
Sunday, February 10, 2002
Is a 117-year-old Chippewa
Falls landmark haunted? The new owner isn't ready to say so, but
the odd creaks, weird noises and bizarre string of events make a
Chippewa Falls News Bureau
CHIPPEWA FALLS -- The floors creak. The lights
flicker. Frigid air is felt on the way up to the third floor.
But does that mean that the James Sheeley House Saloon and
Restaurant is haunted?
Owner Jim Bloms says it's all in what you believe.
Former Sheeley House owner Joel Seidlitz, who now works for
Bloms as a bartender, said he is convinced something strange has
been happening in the bar and restaurant for years.
Seidlitz bought the building in the early '90s to use
primarily as a bar. The second and third floors were not used,
except for the third-floor cooler, which held the alcohol.
Many of Seidlitz's workers were aware of doors opening,
shutting and locking on their own, but when one of his bar staff
walked down the stairs as white as a ghost, Seidlitz knew
something was up.
The bartender went up to the cooler to grab some alcohol when
the cooler closed and locked from the outside and the light went
Seidlitz said the bartender thought the staff was playing a
joke on him.
A half-hour later he realized it was no joke. He fumbled
around in the dark cooler, found a pointed object and managed to
pop the lock.
But Seidlitz's stories don't end there.
His former workers have heard footsteps, gone upstairs to
check it out and found no one.
Items have been moved.
"It's little stuff," he said. "You'll be
standing and something just falls off the walls."
Bloms, a Birchwood businessman who has owned a restaurant in
Rice Lake, has worked hard to add his own personal touch to the
Sheeley House since he bought the establishment in August 2001.
After changing hands twice in three years, the Sheeley House
closed in 2000. It sat empty until Bloms, who owned the Country
Inn in Rice Lake from 1980 to 1995, bought it and made plans to
restore the historic building.
But as he has worked on restoration, Bloms has noticed some
Before he took over the building Bloms noticed a mural that
was painted on the wall in the foyer of the second floor.
He said it wasn't something that went with his motif, so he
sanded it down, worked to get the colors off the wall, primed
and repainted it.
"The roses in the garden scene keep bleeding
through," Bloms said.
But he said that can be attributed to the specific paint
"I don't believe in the supernatural paranormal,"
Bloms said with disinterest. "I think a lot of it has to do
with how much you believe in it."
Kim Slaby, who is in her second stint as a server at the
restaurant, says the spooky tales weren't as frequent when she
worked there in 1983.
"Things kind of just evolved," she said.
Slaby said one girl got locked in the bathroom. Another time
Slaby was on the second floor when spoons came out of nowhere
and fell to the ground.
"I'm fascinated with that part of it, but it's not like
I've experienced (sightings) firsthand," she said.
When she heard the bar and restaurant would be reopened,
Slaby said she wanted to return to the job she loved.
Although Slaby said there is a feel of spirits in the old
house, the difference housing spirits and actually being a
haunted house is a big one.
"I don't think it's haunted," she said. "If it
was an evil haunted, that would drive people away."
John Paul, who operated a boarding house one block west,
erected the building in 1884.
Paul's public house contained a ground floor saloon, first
floor public dining and family living quarters. The second floor
consisted of sleeping quarters.
James Sheeley and his wife, Kate, purchased the house in
1905. The Sheeleys and their three children, Anna, William and
Howard, prepared meals and did housekeeping for the sleeping
Kate Sheeley kept the boarding house going after her husband
died in 1913, and Anna took over after Kate died in 1934.
The saloon closed in 1967, and Anna rented rooms until the
In a history of the house, Dave Raihle Sr., who bought the
house in 1981, said Anna had become reclusive. She resided only
in the dining room and the kitchen.
Raihle said Anna Sheeley was a proud and independent woman
who traveled uptown on a regular basis to see friends.
After 76 years, Anna left her home and was placed in the
Golden Age Home. She died in 1991.
Both Bloms and Slaby said many of the stories that circulate
in Chippewa Falls attribute the strange happenings to Anna
"People say, ĎAnna must have taken it,' " Bloms
said of any missing items. "That's the standard joke."
But Bloms has a hard time blaming Anna for large men's
footsteps that appeared out of nowhere on the top two stairs of
Bloms was working on refinishing the treads on the stairs. He
got new wood and was varnishing it. Suddenly large footprints
appeared on the top two steps, clearly under the varnish, after
the process had been completed.
No one was walking on the stairs during the refinishing
process, Bloms said. He said it's possible that someone walked
on the new wood with some type of chemicals on the soles of the
"It's easy to make something out of nothing," Bloms
said. "It's a novelty that's used in conversation."
But Bloms said if there is a spirit in the Sheeley House, it
hasn't shown itself or harmed anything.
"If we do have one, I'd say it's a friendly ghost with a
sense of humor," he said.
Waters can be reached at (715) 723-0303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Story Courtesy Alyssa Waters