Suspicious sightings, unexplained events suggest haunting at Mount Mary

By T.K. Berggren

Notre Dame Hall

Photo by Katie Berggren Notre Dame Hall and the belltower's Gothic style evoke a certain spookiness.

Milwaukee native Phil Koch is a ghost hunter. He regularly deploys himself around Wisconsin to search out the mysterious and unexplained. In fact, he’s become so adept at chasing down paranormal activists that he’s been featured on A&E Biography channel’s “My Ghost Story.”

While he hasn’t brought his infared cameras to the Mount Mary College campus yet, he’s actively seeking ghosts in the area. Koch’s latest ghostly pursuit features the Brumder Mansion, located at 3046 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Koch and his team had a friendly encounter with a ghost who apparently became fascinated by a rubber plastic ball that Koch placed in the middle of the floor in the historic home.

“I just set the ball on the floor in front of my video camera,” Koch explained. “I walked away and all of a sudden the ball started moving around – there was no wind, no change in anything.”

Koch, 47, documented the paranormal event on YouTube. Koch posted a seven-minute video where the ball appears to move back and forth, circles around, stops, and begins to move again. “I’m just glad my camera was on to catch it,” he said. “It was crazy.”

When asked about Milwaukee’s ghost community, Koch says it keeps him plenty busy and it appears to be thriving.

Could Mount Mary College be Haunted?

If Koch apparently encounters ghosts in the area, is it possible that dear ol’ Mount Mary College is in on the spirit action?

Mount Mary College has been in existence since 1929 at its present site at 2900 North Menomonee Parkway, Milwaukee. Its Gothic-style buildings speak to spookiness: It’s easy to walk the campus in the dark o’ the evenin’ and imagine feeling a gargoyle or two peering over one’s shoulder.

John Seamandel, a campus public safety officer, says he hasn’t seen anything during his two years on campus.

“Nothing randomly suspicious,” he said. Seamandel works the day shift, however, so perhaps Mount Mary ghouls prefer to work after dark.

Pam Saloun, executive assistant to the president, said her 19 years on the job at Mount Mary have been quiet.

“No good stories,” Saloun said. But she works in an office only a step away from the president, a major campus authority figure. Perhaps Mount Mary College ghosts prefer to keep a lower profile.

It’s easy to hear footsteps in the empty and spooky theater in Kostka Hall. One assumes that it’s the fashion design students scurrying from place to place elsewhere in the building but one never knows.

“The theater is an interesting place,” says Wendy Jones, administrative assistant, fashion design. “You can imagine all sorts of things in here.”

A tour of the unused theater reveals a cavernous space that eerily echoes with imagined characters and plays from the past; the room resonates with stale energy. The stage is crammed with discarded furniture and the ceiling is scarred with watermarks. Could spirits be floating from seats to mezzanine, taking in invisible productions while we contemplate whether they exist? Could they be laughing at our ignorance of them? Could they be waiting for us to invite them into a conversation?

Is Muffin Haunting Caroline Hall?


Photo by Katie Berggren, Muffin

Ghostly rumors swirl around about Caroline Hall. Samon Williams, a third-year Mount Mary student who is studying psychology and communications, says she has had several mysterious encounters in the building. She easily relates a story about a young woman who appeared at Caroline’s information desk in the middle of winter last year.

“She didn’t have shoes or a jacket and she looked really young,” Williams says. “She just walked in and used the bathroom.” Williams says that she and some friends attempted to follow the girl, who quickly vanished after she exited the bathroom. “The security guard never saw her. It was like she was a shadow that just disappeared,” Williams says. “She never spoke; she didn’t have a jacket. It was really weird.”

Williams has lived in Caroline Hall for three years. She smiles when the freshmen students say they hear footsteps at night.

“We all blame Muffin and say that he’s running the halls,” Williams says. Muffin is a paper drawing of a scary-looking troll that appears randomly on student’s doors (see photo).

Williams is the secretary for the Caroline Hall Council, a group that supports the more than 140 dorm students. She has other stories about Caroline that include a broken radio suddenly playing music in the middle of the night and a power strip light that flashed repeatedly for no apparent reason.

What are Ghosts?

Koch, the ghost hunter, said that although he’s stalked hundreds of the shadowy figures, he still doesn’t know what they are.

“Personally, I think they’re people who haven’t ‘gone into the light’ so to speak,” he guessed.

Koch explained that he’s a Christian and there are times when he has to take a break from the adventures of ghost hunting.

“I need to detox now and then. We’ve all seen movies and read stories about ghosts being evil. I don’t want to mess with that,” he said. “But it’s so much fun I always come back to it. I find that when you sit down and really take the time to talk to people, everybody has a ghost story.”

Do you have a Mount Mary College ghost story? Contact the reporter at



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