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Photo by: Trevor Kupfer/Events

The ReMax Preferred house on Broadway is reportedly haunted by the five deceased members of the house's former residents, the Field family.

Family's ghosts throw things and make noises for realtors

Since the Field family house was built on Broadway around 1900, five family members have died there. Apparently they found the home so comfortable, they never found a reason to leave.

For decades the house's denizens have encountered such strange occurrences as footsteps, laughter, moving objects, messages and a Halloween party gone awry.

"You just have to hang out at these places," said Terry Fisk, co-author of "Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted Locations" "There's not a certain time or a pattern as far as what people can do to cause something to happen. It's usually just a matter of being in the right place at the right time."

According to the house's current guests, real estate brokers for ReMax Preferred, these random occurrences begin about 4 p.m.

"It's noises mostly," broker Barb Drolson said. "When we first came in and were taking wallpaper down, we could hear noises in the basement like furniture being moved back and forth."

When ReMax first moved into the house about four years ago, they hired someone to install the phone system. After he worked down in the basement for some time, he ran out of the house leaving his tools behind and never came back.

"When he came up, he told us, 'You know, you're not alone here,'" Drolson said. "He went down to our main office in Madison and said, 'I don't know what you're going to do, but I'm not going back there.'"

Around the same time, they hired contractors to remove wallpaper in one room and apply mudding. To their surprise, each morning the mudding would be strewn on the floor and scratches would appear on the walls.

"We also had a brand new fax machine that we couldn't get to work at the time, and they sent an engineer from the company," Drolson said. "He did a tracing on it that looked like a cardiogram, and they couldn't figure it out. He said it's the closest thing to white noise he's ever seen."

Drolson said they've also had the postage meter turn on and off, heard footsteps upstairs, heard the toilet flush and bathroom sink turn on, had radio stations change channels and emit a high-pitched screeching and experienced cold spots most of which have happened with several people present.

"Initially we (felt threatened) and when I'm here by myself I keep the radio on so I don't hear the noises," she said. "When we first started my daughter was here, and I was out on appointments, and she heard noises in the basement. She got so freaked out that she sat with a store owner downtown until I got back."

Tom Bannen grew up in the house, which his great-grandfather built, and lived there from 1967 to 2003. Ever since he was a child, they've known who the hauntings can be attributed to.

"We know exactly who it is," Bannen said. "There's five people that died in that house and all five are members of my family. My great-grandfather, great-grandmother, great aunt, mother and father."

Bannen said they'd consistently hear footsteps and noises coming from inside a china cabinet in the living room. Bannen's daughter, Linda Bannen-Stilwell remembers her grandmother asking the noises from the cabinet to stop, and they always would.

"One thing that really scared me was right after my grandma had passed in the house," Bannen-Stilwell said. "The night that I walked in the house and found her, the light bulb popped and went out. Every week for the next month when I walked into a room the same thing would happen. Finally I said out loud, 'This is scaring me grams stop doing that.' And it never happened again."

When she was a young girl growing up in the house, Bannen-Stilwell said her cousin told her stories about the house that thoroughly freaked her out.

"It scared me so bad that I couldn't sleep in that house for a week," she said. "My grandma told me that all of the ghosts are family members that aren't going to hurt you, but protect you."

Other family members have attested that the ghosts have been friendly to them. That is, until ReMax moved in.

"Most of the stuff happened after ReMax bought it so I think they must have been kind of angry that we sold the place," Bannen said.

"I'm not surprised because my grandmother was insistent about keeping the house in the family, so I think she was upset that my aunt and dad sold it," Bannen-Stilwell added.

One morning all of the curtains were down and a curtain rod was leaning against the wall, Drolson said.

"When I was walking through, I could feel something behind me, and I turned around," she added. "Just when I did, the rod came crashing down behind me. Well I bolted out the door and nearly ran over the neighbor with my car."

In another instance, Drolson said two women were sitting in the house as she was walking through and a clock that hangs from chains attached to a railing struck her right in the face.

"Yeah, it's been interesting to say the least," she said.

Drolson has also experienced aromas in the home such as heavy cigar smoke and baking apple pie.

"They didn't share any with us, though," Drolson said with a laugh. "And we know at least one of the past occupants did smoke cigars."

Drolson said area residents know the house for infamously seeing its lights turn on at odd hours in the evening. The ReMax brokers are hoping the ghosts will "mellow out" since attorney George Field, Bannen's cousin, moved into the upstairs portion of the building. However, he's also experienced some strange things in the house.

"Every once in a while George finds stuff in there, which is strange, too," Bannen said. "For instance he found my grandmother and grandfather's brand new checkbook in the attic. The account was issued one week before my grandfather died, and the book was gone for all these years."

Bannen added that Field once went down to the basement of the house where he saw a mirror that had accumulated dust. The mirror quite simply said, "Get out."

"When I was in middle school, I'd have Halloween parties," Bannen-Stilwell said. "Grandma wasn't too keen on it because her father died on that day, but we had one anyway. Well one of the girls brought a Ouija board, and they had candles going and started doing it. I was too scared of that stuff so I was sitting in the hall with my grandma, and we heard them scream. According to the girls, all of a sudden the hand thing flew across the room and the lights flickered. That's when my grandma said, 'OK, no more of that in this house.'"

She added she has caught glimpses of people walking in the hallway and shadows of footsteps under a door, not to mention her grandmother's unique laugh.

"She was a Field, and the Field laugh is very distinctive very loud so you could hear it throughout the house," she said.

Though the ghost stories have been well-documented from personal experiences throughout the years, Drolson said it's mostly harmless and quite fun.

"I usually just come in and say, 'Hey, I'm here, and I got work to do so leave me alone unless you want to help.'"


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