What is the Story Behind this Mysterious Abandoned House in Fond du Lac?

By on January 28, 2016

What happened inside this abandoned house in Fond du Lac to give it such a sinister and bizarre reputation? The Witherell House has a long and mysterious history.
What's the story behind this abandoned house in Fond du Lac?
The historic Witherell House in Fond du Lac, WI. January 23, 2016. Photos: Cult of Weird

On County Highway K, outside of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, is an eerie old house set back from the road. Though not much is known about the property, its unusual architecture and local legends have made it a point of interest for what may be decades of restless teenagers.

Which is exactly how my fate became intertwined with this cursed place.

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The year was 1999. I was 18, living with friends in a wretched little backwoods town about an hour north of Milwaukee in the heart of Deliverance country. As can be expected when you live in the sphincter of the great Dairy State, we were horrendously bored and desperate for adventure one day. We were probably talking about haunted locations or some similar topic, as the night before we had been creeping around the woods near Rienzi Cemetery in search of witch graves and gates to Hell.

A friend from nearby Fond du Lac shared a story he had heard about an abandoned house in the area. According to local legend, a girl had murdered both her parents there. And he knew the location of the house. As a matter of fact, it was just down the road from Rienzi.

How could I possibly resist?

So a group of us jumped in the car and headed off into the wild unknown, completely unaware of the misfortune that would soon befall us.

Fond du Lac abandoned house

Today, the trees and bushes have been trimmed back, and a neighborhood of modern houses sprouted up beside the house. 16 years ago, though, the property was isolated, ominous, overgrown and barely visible from the road. White paint was peeling off to reveal the gray, weathered clapboard beneath. Most of the windows were broken, gaping black voids. A sun room in the back had collapsed inward.

The door in the back was padlocked shut. A large NO TRESPASSING sign should have been enough to deter us at that point…but the house seemed completely neglected. It was falling in on itself. How would anyone notice, or possibly even care, if we went in and looked around?

Well, it turns out someone cares very much, for reasons that remain a mystery to this day.

Someone in our group pushed the door open, probably breaking the latch off the rotting door frame, and we crept inside. I didn’t expect to find anything, but of course I was hoping for blood stains, human remains…anything to substantiate the legend. The first thing I remember seeing was a mattress on the bare wood floor of the living room, in front of a large fireplace. On the mattress was a Ouija board and some burned candles.

There were cans of paint and other supplies covered in layers of dust in the kitchen. I found a few receipts laying around on the counter, the most recent dated 1987. Whoever was attempting to fix the place up seemed to have given up a long time ago.

Musty books were piled on the floor of an upstairs room. I examined a few of them, which appeared to be pathology texts with obscure symptoms and disorders underlined throughout.

The fieldstone basement was extremely dark, so we didn’t go too far down there. I remember noticing a few pieces of rusted metal, perhaps a water heater and furnace, resting just beyond the light that shone down the narrow staircase.

The Letter

Back upstairs, along the side of the wall in which the fireplace had been built, I found a single square cupboard door. It opened downward to function as a writing surface for a secretary desk-style compartment in the wall. It was empty, but I noticed an ornate wooden handle at the back. I tugged on it, and realized the whole desk was just loosely set into the wall. I carefully slid it out…to reveal a letter that had been hidden behind it.

The paper was stiff and yellowed, handwritten in pencil. It was addressed to a Mr. J. Witherell, an apology from the Fond du Lac sanatorium that, since the facility was closing, his wife and daughter would have to be discharged. Was this evidence that some unspeakable tragedy may have actually happened there? If the letter was real, how had it never been found before?

Excited by actual, physical evidence to support some semblance of the story I was there to find, I slipped the letter into my back pocket and started toward the door. Just as I was about the exit the house, a Fond du Lac County sheriff rounded the corner from the front of the house and was approaching the door. I quickly alerted the others, but there would be no escape. Through the large front windows, we could see firetrucks and squad cars lined up out on the road.

While most of us were exploring, two members of our group had apparently been throwing around wood and other junk they found laying around. In the process, they managed to knock a fire detector off the ceiling, which triggered an automated alarm at the fire department.

There was a moment of panic, then we decided to go outside and face the firing squad. I wasn’t keen on the idea of a theft charge, so I left the letter on the mantle of the fireplace before stepping outside.

As we were explaining ourselves to the officers, an older woman (the owner or caretaker of the property) walked around the house, surveying the damage. She claimed she lived nearby, and had heard the sound of smashing glass from her home. She said something to the effect that she had been there the day prior and that all the windows were intact. As a result, not only did we all get fined for trespassing, we were assessed restitution for property damage totaling $1,500 each.

We were told that trespassers were pulled out of that house frequently. But why is a dilapidated house that’s been vacant for decades so heavily protected? Why is the grass mowed and the property regularly maintained?

The historical Witherell House in Fond du Lac

History of the Witherell House

I’ve come across several recent references to the house, suggesting rumors still persist. Its reputation for being wired with motion detectors and other security measures is well known.

In a 2014 episode of Real Ghost Stories Online (listen below), hosts Tony & Jenny Brueski briefly discuss the house. They theorize that maybe the owner is trying to protect people from a dangerous presence inside.

I’ve often thought that, if something tragic did in fact happen there, maybe the family couldn’t bear to let the memory wither away with the house. I felt differently in 1999, though. I was angry and highly suspicious. Someone was trying to cover up a violent and brutal crime from their family’s past, and the letter to J. Witherell was the evidence that would justify the outrageous fines I couldn’t possibly afford to pay.

Until recently, I had never found any factual information on the house. I was searching for a record of a sanatorium in Fond du Lac the other day when I stumbled upon a searchable database on the Wisconsin Historical Society website. Much to my disbelief, Fond du Lac’s most mysterious (and arguably most feared) abandoned house had a history. According to the historical record, it is an 1873 Queen Anne known as the Witherell House. This is the first reference I’ve found to the name on the letter, giving credence to its authenticity.

From the description of the property:

Two story, Late Picturesque frame house with clapboard siding. Gable roof with bargeboards. Oddly shaped windows. Pictured in 1874 Atlas of Fond du Lac County.

Phillips, the former sheriff of Onondaga County, New York and a state representative, arrived in Fond du Lac County in 1852 with his brother Lyman Phillips. Primarily a farmer, Phillips was also elected to the state Senate in 1860, and provost marshal of the Fond du Lac district in 1863-1864. Elihu was also the founder and first president of the Fond du Lac Savings Bank.

The Lyman Phillips (Elihu’s brother) house was very similar in design and appeared on Bogert & Haight’s 1862 Map of Fond du Lac County Wisconsin. This residence, however, was destroyed by fire in 1876.

Historical photo of the abandoned Witherell house on Hwy K in Fond du Lac

Historical photo of the abandoned Witherell house in Fond du Lac

Historical photo of the abandoned Witherell house in Fond du Lac

As you can see in the photos above, the house was in much better condition when it was the subject of a historical survey in 1974.

Searching for the Fond du Lac Sanatorium

A vintage postcard of St. Mary's Springs sanitarium in Fond du Lac
Postcard from St. Mary’s Springs Sanitarium c.1901

I have yet to find a record of a facility specifically called the Fond du Lac Sanatorium. Just down the road from the Witherell House, however, is St. Mary’s Springs Catholic high school. It was built in 1901 by the Sisters of Saint Agnes to serve as a sanitarium, but it closed in 1909 to become a girl’s boarding school.

Is that what the letter was referring to?

What happened in the house after J. Witherell’s sick wife and daughter returned home?

It’s worth noting that St. Mary’s Springs, the Witherell House, and Rienzi Cemetery are all on Hwy K within just a few minutes of each other. At the back of the cemetery is a single monument and four small cornerstones possibly marking the perimeter of a mass grave. This is the infamous Witch Circle, rumored to be the final resting place of nuns from St. Mary’s Springs who were excommunicated for practicing witchcraft and getting pregnant.

Real Ghost Stories Online: Abandoned Haunted House?

Have you had an experience with the Witherell House, or have some insight into its real history?
Please share it in the comments below.

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64 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    April 21, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Ok so what’s the deal? Is this house haunted or not? Did a murder happen??

  2. Kristin

    April 20, 2017 at 6:19 am

    What about the historical society? Would they have any interest in helping restore? I hate to see history torn down or neglected and it really is beautiful! If you ever need volunteers to come help clean up damage from trespassors respond to this. 🙂

  3. Paul Von Stache

    April 17, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    The sanatorium was the Fond du lac County Asylum. It was where the Rolling Meadows Golf Course is today. It was demolished in the late 1960’s and replaced with the County Health Care Center on 2nd Street

  4. Travis smith.

    July 26, 2016 at 8:04 am

    I lived out on k for years. Drove by the house daily. I would slow down and look at the beautiful property. I hope it never changes. Moving back to Fond du lac here pretty soon. May have to take a drive when I get home go take a look.

  5. Mary McLain Searl

    May 8, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    I grew up in the last house on How 23 before county K. I was born in 1951. When I was a young girl (youngest of 5 children) our telephones were on party lines. Mrs. Witherall was totally blind and many times would fail to hang up the phone when she was finished talking. So, one of us had to go across the field and ask she or Mr. Witherall to hang up the phone. Nothing scary or haunted about it. As a teen, I was in the empty house once. There were old magazines and books and lots of dust. Ms. Moen doesn’t mention the year her family bought the property, but my mother- in-law knew Mrs. Stormo and mentioned that the family purchased the property. I was married in 1975. These are some pretty outrageous claims about this house-all the way around. Mr. and Mrs. Witherall were very old, but not insane or possessed. Thanks for listening.

    • Erika Freiberg

      July 26, 2016 at 10:26 am

      What a beautiful historical story filled with awesome visuals! I have heard the “haunted legend” that the cops would show up to this house if you would try to sneak in but these were just claims where I was attending St.Mary Springs Academy (which also has hanted history). Boil Hall on that postcard was haunted as that was used as a tuberculosis holding. It was forbidden to enter. Too bad they knocked down that awesome piece of history a few years ago

    • Rina Grace

      July 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      Hi. Its crazy I was just reading this and you have my last name. Lol Are you related to the late Don Searl and Carla Searl?

    • Candy Niewinski

      April 20, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      Thank you for sharing.

  6. tamtam

    February 11, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    This is fascinating. Thanks for sharing

  7. Tina McGraw

    January 31, 2016 at 8:19 pm

  8. TINA

    January 31, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    The House on K
    LesleyAnne Stormo Moen Greeting Fondy fans. I am the youngest of Dr. Stormo’s eight children. I have five sisters and two brothers, and all eight of us grew up playing in and around “the farm” (as we have always called it). Since there is a request for memories of the place I thought I would share… and I will share a lot. The inside of the house used to be beautiful : the smooth, elegant wooden spindles that lined the staircase leading upstairs that also outlined the stairwell that divides the second floor in half; the gigantic, private rooms that screamed with character whether because of the intricately framed window panes or the “secret cubbies” (not very secret because there are very evident doors indicating their presence) where my sister and I would sneak into and read by flashlight. The dining area – at the front of the house, which actually used to be the main entrance and once entertained a full front porch wrapping from one corner of the house to the other – had great built-in china hutches in the corners and I would dust them religiously because I knew “special things” were going to be stored there; the gigantic living area off the kitchen was also beautiful and, for the longest time, had old curtains hanging from the rods and there was an old cradle that I would play with; upstairs, the built-in bookshelves that lined one half of the common area were stacked with old books, outdated copies of National Geographic, some medical anthologies, financial analytics, and some nature reference manuals. The kitchen always had a familiar musty smell and was fun to explore the contents of the cupboards and drawers because I always found something old and interesting. My next older sister and I would often move from room to room with buckets of Mr. Clean and wash the floors until they gleamed; we would talk about how we would arrange the rooms when we moved into the house together.7 June 2013 at 02:32 · Edited · Like · 7
    LesleyAnne Stormo Moen At one point there was a “summer kitchen” that we eventually tore down because the roof fell in. That’s what happens when one builds an addition with a flat-as-a-pancake roof in a Midwestern region prone to heavy snow and rainfall. As a young child I was always instructed to stay out of the summer kitchen because it was dangerous.A bit beyond the house where the kids were trying to demonstrate their German fluency in the 2010 Youtube video, was a ramshackle – but still incredibly designed – house called “the servant’s quarters.” When Colonel Phillips lived in the main house, his servants resided in the servant’s quarters. It took me many years to understand that concept but the day it clicked is the day that I better understood segregation, class privilege and a number of other concepts that I had long struggled with. This was also a fragile structure and it was clear to me that less attention had been used in its construction than had been used in the main house. In the opposite direction of the servant’s quarters there was/is a barn and a shed. There was an old ladder in the barn – one of the rungs was cracked through and we knew to skip over that one – and I remember using it to climb to the loft with my sisters and friends. Normally we would jump from the loft into the mounds of hay we had piled up below, but other times we would arrange the multiple bales of hay into new sitting arrangements. … And the shed…I loved and hated when my dad would unlock the shed door and roll open the creaky door, exposing the darkness to the hot, bright heat. I loved it because I would hear the scurrying of raccoons seeking refuge in their hiding places overhead, and I hated it because I knew those little critters drove my dad nuts. He was always missing some small tool or another and was certain that those “little rascals” had stolen away with whatever he was missing.7 June 2013 at 01:55 · Edited · Like · 3
    LesleyAnne Stormo Moen My dad loved going out to the farm to mow the seemingly endless fields. That was his paradise, just as it was mine. When I could hear my dad’s tractor faintly while I searched the bubbling creek and thick woods for frogs and other natural wonders always I felt like we were both at home. My dad would share my excitement and dismay when I showed him my treasures – whether it be a bucket filled with frogs or a bucket filled with bullet shells found on our property. He explained to me the importance of allowing the frogs to live in their natural habitat just as naturally as he explained that the bullet shells likely came from people sneaking on our property to hunt. We would go out there almost every weekend. One of the scariest memories from my experience at the farm was when my dad decided that it was time to paint the house – something that he did on fairly regular occasion – but instead of using an extension ladder he decided to rent a “cherry picker”. They weren’t the safest contraptions, though, and somehow my dad fell from the unit when it was in a raised position and broke some bones. It was scary to see my dad hurt as a child.7 June 2013 at 02:39 · Edited · Like · 4
    LesleyAnne Stormo Moen As I grew up I noticed that a lot of times when we would get to the farm my dad was less-than thrilled. Eventually I realized that those days, instead of pulling out the tractor first, we took a tour of the perimeter of the house and then he dug around for large panes of thick vinyl windows, plywood, a hammer and some nails. He would “board” up (with expensive vinyl) the windows that had been shattered or the doors that had been torn from their hinges. At some point I realized that he was trying to keep people who didn’t belong in our sacred space out. And at some point I realized that the uninvited people that still welcomed themselves into this space that clearly wasn’t intended for them were actually disrupting the enjoyment that my dad, especially, experienced there. He installed an alarm system which resulted in him receiving a higher volume of middle-of-the-night calls and trips out to the farm to meet the cops and the trespassers, but he still had to board up the windows and doors that the trespassers had violated before getting caught. And, while he never shared this information, I can probably count how many dollars of restitution he received from the trespassers.My breaking point came when I went to the farm with my dad the day after a break-in and someone/some group had destroyed the beautiful spindles on the staircase and stairwell. The spindles were chopped, broken and torn from the fixture, and the beautiful handrails were broken into pieces and used as firewood in the bedroom that was immediately off the kitchen and dining area. There, in the middle of the bedroom floor, underneath the area where the carpet had been rolled back, was a HOLE the size of a fire pit. There was a burn hole the size of a fire pit in the middle of a room in this sacred space I knew as “the farm” and the beautiful spindles I loved to study had been destroyed, and the alphabetical system by which I had arranged the books and magazines had been disrupted. Again: someone/some people thought it was OK to LIGHT A FIRE on the wooden floor, right next to a flammable rug, inside a very old house that a) could quickly go up in flames, and b) did not belong to him/her/them. I could not, for the life of me, understand WHY anyone could/would damage something so beautiful and valuable that wasn’t even theirs to play with.7 June 2013 at 02:43 · Edited · Like · 4
    LesleyAnne Stormo Moen There came a day when I grew up to the point where I was left alone at night while my dad was on-call in a different city and my mom helped ailing relatives in different states. Then it became my responsibility to respond to the late-night calls from the alarm company and the police. And my heart fell to the ground one evening when I arrived at the farm and saw my own peers lining the gravel shoulder of the road. It’s likely they didn’t realize that the property belonged to my family, and it’s also likely that, in the state they were in, they did not recognize me. I knew enough about some of my classmates to know that they were there trying to touch the “haunting”. So, if you have read the entirety of my notes, and you are still curious as to whether there is any paranormal activity on/in these premises or house, take it from one who spent her childhood there that there is NOTHING haunted. There aren’t ghosts or goblins or floating figures. The “apparitions” some claim to see haunting the upstairs windows are contraptions that one of my family members gleefully created last summer while I was there; if I remember correctly they are made of an old rug, some hangers, a Halloween pumpkin decoration, some other random objects that trespassers have brought inside with them.7 June 2013 at 02:45 · Edited · Like · 4
    LesleyAnne Stormo Moen Finally, I suppose that with the passing of a family member – especially a parent or sibling or child – or maybe just having the loyalty of being a family member, it’s a natural tendency to rise up and defend the defenseless. As has been noted on this thread, my dad died last month on May 17 (http://www.legacy.com/obitua…/fdlreporter/obituary.aspx…). Having read most of the 203 comments left previously and not knowing how to respond to some of the ignorant accusations towards my dad and my family, I took some time to consider how I might best satisfy the curiosity of some, kill the curiosity of others, and defend the integrity of my own father. So this is what I will share: My dad was accused of being greedy, grumpy and stiff because he did not accept a financial offer for his paradise, because he did not care to share with strangers his intentions for his personal property, and because he was a bit “dry” when delivering the news that one’s parent had died. In his defense, the last word I would use to describe my father is “greedy.” He spent a great portion of his career humbly and quietly serving the greater Fond du Lac community not only as a county coroner and forensic pathologist responsible for delivering really difficult news to many people, but in other capacities as well. He carried himself with integrity and based his life on a foundation of values he believed served the greater good. Because my parents declined an undocumented but publicly reported $1.2M offer for their property does not reflect their greed; in my opinion they demonstrated less greed by refusing the offer. Money doesn’t buy happiness, and my dad loved that piece of land, and he knew that many of his children love it as well. And finally, as far as my dad being grumpy goes…I imagine it’s true that he wasn’t very forthcoming with information about what he intended to do with the house/property, primarily because he was not entirely sure himself. My dad knew that he enjoyed being out there despite the headaches and costs incurred by trespassers, and he shared his hopes and dreams with people he trusted and had relationships with… It’s a common trait of introverts to be a bit guarded, and a common trait of intelligence to be a bit dry-witted in personality. My dad was intelligent and a strong introvert but contributed – and will continue to contribute – greatly to the community by way of his thoughtful responses and careful investments.7 June 2013 at 03:08 · Edited · Unlike · 9
    LesleyAnne Stormo Moen And so I have written a bit of a booklet that I am confident my family will be distressed to know about but that I hope will put to rest some of the stories about and scavenging around this “haunted house”. This landmark is one of my favorite places to visit when I return home, and it holds many special memories of my dad and childhood. I don’t know what will happen with the property in the future, but losing it at this point would be like losing my father all over again. (Thanks, Dad, for realizing that the memories you inspired in your children were worth more than a million bucks. I sure do miss you!)7 June 2013 at 02:52

    • Amanda Flores

      February 1, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Wow, incredible to be learning about your families property. I have driven by this house many times on the way to my grandparents’ and cousin’s grave sites, always wondering the history behind the property. Next time I drive by it I will remember the incredible memories you shared about it! Thank you!

      • Girlfonddulac

        June 23, 2017 at 7:11 pm

        I agree same thing happened to me

    • Jane Witherell Martell

      February 1, 2016 at 6:35 pm

      My grandfather, Archie Witherell bought the property during the depression – mid 1930’s, restoring the woodwork and upgrading heating/electrical. The surviving elderly brothers who owned it then had lived in the servant’s quarters – a portion of the house that was taken off – dragged out of the yard to rest near the site of an earlier frame house nearer the creek. Archie died of natural causes in 1967. Grandma Adelaide lived there with housekeepers until the year before she died, 1981. The property was expensive to maintain, and without Archie and Addie, was in need of other dreamers. There is nothing sinister about the grace of this lovely old home – no mad relatives or hauntings. It wasn’t the Witherell’s for long in the scheme of things, but very much appreciated.

      Jane Witherell Martell

    • Katertot

      February 13, 2016 at 5:17 am

      Hi LesleyAnne Stormo Moen-
      Our parents knew each other very well and i believe you were also a classmate and friend of my sisters, as well. I would love to go with you sometime when you are back in Fond du Lac to check out the farm?! I drive by the house quite a bit and have always wanted to see and go inside it! Hit me up on FaceBook please!
      Thank you for sharing your story. It was a wonderful and bittersweet. I am also terribly sorry to hear about your Father. I look up to him, as I too, want a career in Forensic Science!
      Sincerely,
      Kate Weinke

    • Rob P

      March 2, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Very well expressed. Your reply is so much better that the original paranormal story.

    • Kim Pinch

      April 30, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Fantastic information. How long has your family owned the property?

    • Candice

      July 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Very sorry for your loss but thank you for all the wonderful information you shared about you beloved property

    • Elyse

      July 27, 2016 at 1:27 am

      I loved to drive past your house when I was in highschool at the Springs

    • Cindy Goheen- Miller

      July 27, 2016 at 4:09 am

      Thank you so much for sharing your family history about the house. I cried when I read the part about the stair spindles and staircase being torn apart. I know about your feelings of your beloved house. My grandfather had built a farmhouse in Sturgeon Bay. We kept this property in the family for many years. I loved to hear my grandmother talk about my grandfather because I had never met him. He died when my Mom was 5. Grandma showed me where they had a hole dug to store their food, that grandpa used to fish for sturgeon in the winter and take them on a sleigh pulled by the horses into town. So many, many memories. Now there is a campground up against the property. Dirt bike trails go thru the woods and destroy the peace and the sounds of the animals. How I miss going there. My parents added onto the house and retired there. They have since passed away and the property sold. I would still hate to see anything destroyed (including the cedar and maple trees). I think it would rain from heaven from my grandmas tears if something happened to any of it. Again, thank you so much for sharing the real story about the house. I love old buildings and even worked at the Galloway house as a tour guide.
      Cindy

    • Wendy Kurkowski-Evans

      July 27, 2016 at 7:49 am

      What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing your heart and your special memories of the farm and your father. ~ The vandalism and insensitivity of others saddens me.

    • a

      July 27, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing !!

    • Katie

      July 30, 2016 at 11:00 am

      Thank you for sharing. I drive past the property regularly & always wondered the history of it.

    • Alisha Schaefer

      April 4, 2017 at 1:43 am

      I know your family personally. And I remember even spending time with you and your family after church at times. I love you all and I know your dad was not grumpy or greedy. He worked hard and loved his family deeply. I’m sorry for all the hurt and lies people spread on here about your family. I’m sorry for the loss of your dad he was a great man I know how it is to loose your parent. And we just lost mom, Jane sybesma a few weeks ago to alhztimer. We were close with your family and I wish people weren’t so ignorant. Remember the all the good things and that was a beautiful home. Alisha sybesma.

    • Randi

      April 16, 2017 at 5:04 am

      Thank you for sharing. My family and I just moved to Fond du lac and I was searching for old farm houses…this was a search result…I enjoyed reading your story and hope one day your dad’s (family’s) paradise can one day be restored to its original glory as I can imagine the beauty of the woodwork and spindles staircase, God bless.

    • Beth L.

      April 19, 2017 at 9:34 am

      While you wrote this almost 4 years ago, thank you. You have provided a wonderful history of the beautiful place. It amazes me that people see something and image the worst instead of seeing it for what it was; Someone’s beautiful home. I amazes me that people (in this area teens mostly) think that because some place is not lived that someone doesn’t own it or in this case that someone doesn’t love it.

    • Pam

      April 19, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      Your stories of childhood play and a father’s joy are truly amazing. Have you ever thought about making the farm into a bed and breakfast or something to that affect?

    • Karen Burke

      April 19, 2017 at 6:06 pm

      Thank you for all the information about this house. I worked in the hospital laboratory with your Dad years ago. Did not remember your family owning this house. Probably did know this at one time. Your Dad was not a grumpy man. Always enjoyed working with him.

    • torri wood

      April 20, 2017 at 7:59 am

      Beautiful story thank you for sharing

  9. M Plummer

    January 31, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    All of your stories are B.S. I was in the house with the owners and their children back in the ’70s. It was a gorgeous house and a great family. I don’t know how it ended in such disrepair after they sold it but I also wish it had been cared for.

  10. Megan

    January 31, 2016 at 9:58 am

    The pathologist referee to above did own the home. He was used as a consultant in the Jeffery dahmer murders. This is only based on legend, but I have lived in fdl all my life. What I understand is that during the time he was away for the Jeffery dahmer the house was broken into and damaged. I heard life, time, and folklore got in the way of resoring the home. I do know that there are sensors that alert to the sheriff’s dept. I have also heard the murder story but never saw evidence. Fdl has long history I don’t think a big murder would go on without being in the histories somewhere. I have heard of a “bloody bible” somewhere on the second floor. The sanitarium could have been fond du lac county poor house which was located where rolling meadows golf course is now. But the nuns did run a tb hospital that was located behind were the school is now.
    Other local things you may be interested in would be witch road near ripon. And also glenbulah cemetery was on unsolved mysteries a while back. Happy hunting

  11. Dags Anne Jesion

    January 30, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    I am going to forward this to my daughter. She and her friends experienced paranormal happenings in the 90’s at this house. We drove by it and I could feel the dark presence of what my Daughter told me they encountered. I have lived with spirits for as long as I can remember. My daughter has been around several of those spirits as our house in Cedar Grove was haunted with them. Lucky for us they were friendly and we coexisted. If you would like to know about them I would be happy to share.

  12. lifetime fdl resident

    January 30, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Spent a couple evenings in the house in 1985 with many friends. All friends of family member. Other than the ghost stories we made up that evening to spook things up, nothing sinister about the house.

  13. Rae Nell Halbur

    January 30, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    As for the area at Rienzi … I manage Rienzi Cemetery. It is not a mass grave. Those are actually graves of nuns from the Cathedral Church of St Paul. We do have names in our records. Sorry!.

    • Charlie Hintz

      Charlie Hintz

      January 30, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      Thank you for the clarification. I assumed there were records, but I wanted to make note of the local legend. I had to bone up on some of the FDL mythology before writing this, and the “witch circle” pops up again and again.

  14. Bart

    January 30, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Ken Stormo was a Pathologists, he was a Coroner for FDL county and later a Medical Examiner for Milwaukee County. Which is why you found pathology books on the premises. Pretty sure the intent was to retire back to FDL from Milwaukee County and restore the homestead, which he didn’t want vandalized, hence the security system. Age caught up with him. Everything else is teenage hormones, imaginations and good story telling for Halloween.

    • Mary McLain Searl

      May 8, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      I agree, having been around there.

    • Mindy

      July 27, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      Exactly. Well said.

  15. Joy

    January 30, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I love that house. Yes Dr Stormo did own the house. Not sure what happened after he passed. When I was young I always hope I might one day be able to purchase it. I lived on HWY K for a very long time. Joy

  16. krista

    January 30, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    I live in fond du lac. I knew people who had claimed to have been in there. I heard a different story. I heard a bunch of nuns lived there long ago & the people i knew who had claimed to be in there said there were half packed suitcases in there, as if the people who had lived there were in a hurry to get out. Anyone heard anything like that??

    • charley

      February 12, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      thats the st nazians church youre thinking of

    • Girlfonddulac

      June 23, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Tell me more

  17. Michelle

    January 30, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Maybe the letter is referring to the Fond du Lac Mental Asylum? It opened in the late 1800’s and was on Military Road across from Holiday Inn where most recently Rolling Meadows Nursing Home was.

    • Charlie Hintz

      Charlie Hintz

      January 30, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      I’ll have to look into that. Thank you!

    • Mary Jo Abler

      February 1, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      the old Asylum was located ON the site of Holiday Inn. I worked at Rolling Meadows Nursing home in late 60″s early 70s. When it closed some residents were moved across the road to RM. Those that were not violent. Others were moved either to other nursing homes, or secure facilities as needed. I think that may have been when the County build the Mental health facility on 1st St.

  18. casey

    January 30, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Sorry it’s Fondy Hauntings, click on info, then click on files, it’s towards the bottom. The house on k pops up. The lady that grew up in the house tells a beautiful story about it.

  19. Bill

    January 30, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Dr. Stormo owned the house until his recent passing. The story you’re referring to was told by his daughter Lesley-Anne, and is on the Facebook page, “When I was young, living in Fond du Lac”. You have to be a member of the group in order to see the posts.

    • Beth Godwin

      January 30, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Thanks Bill-am history buff-and any new ideas are great!

  20. Beth Godwin

    January 30, 2016 at 7:17 am

    The whole area up off of Cty K has alot of history-alot sad however-one of the buildings now part of the Wisc. prison system located on Taycheedah was also part of the St. Marys nun projects-there is one building that was the unwed mothers house (now used for rehab of prisoners) There are many unmarked graves in a cemetary on the hillside behind it-not sure as to the complete history behind it-many times we could hear the sound of babies crying in the distance-

    • Beth Godwin

      January 30, 2016 at 7:48 am

      The building I speak of is now called Addams Hall and is part of the WI correctional facility in Taycheedah-not that far from both locations noted in this story-

      • Martha

        January 30, 2016 at 11:27 pm

        Sad to admit I was in Taycheedah and Addams Hall is haunted as well as the Harris Hall. There is an old Homestead on the property as well. I heard the graves on the hill are of dead babies from when it was a place for unwed mothers.

    • Elyse

      July 27, 2016 at 1:20 am

      The nuns died from scarlet fever….I went to the Springs HS

  21. Mike

    January 30, 2016 at 4:36 am

    My name is Mike I grew up in Fond du Lac and lived there up until recently. The place is very intriguing and creepy. As a young kid there was really nothing to do in town but get into trouble. A couple of buddy’s and me were at the cemetery down the road walking around and as we left heading up cty Rd K we passed the house. Now this is at like 1:30 in the morning and there are candles literally in every window and they were lit. We stopped on the road cuz that was odd and I remember hearing screaming coming from the direction of the house and saw a shadow /image pass by the large front window. I was 14 at the time I told my mom what I had seen and she warned me to stay away from that house said it was cursed with death and I believe it.

  22. Robert

    January 30, 2016 at 1:55 am

    Got caught also in 1999, it was creepy saw satanic paraphernalia. Had a cops gun to my temple as we were attempting to escape, since I dropped my flashlight and picked it up thought I had a gun, peed a little.

    • Mary McLain Searl

      May 8, 2016 at 11:06 pm

      Baloney.

  23. slayerkittytania

    January 30, 2016 at 12:16 am

    I been there, did’t get caught got pictures, its not haunted..

  24. Jessica

    January 29, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    that place is wired like fort knox with sensors and cameras everywhere. I got busted in 2004, cost me $147 and we didn’t even break in like charlie did, just looked around outside. creepy place. cops showed up minutes after we jumped the fence and came from all directions – never was so scared as when that happend.

  25. Nicole

    January 29, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    A local doctor owns the home and I believe it was his intent to eventually fix it up

  26. Casey

    January 29, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    If you go on Fdl haunting on facebook, that lady that grew up in this house tells a beautiful story. It was a while ago so it take a bit ti find it

    • Beth Godwin

      January 30, 2016 at 7:12 am

      looked for the reference on FB and there is nothing there-could you be more specific on this-thanks

      • Tina McGraw

        January 31, 2016 at 8:18 pm

        The House on K
        LesleyAnne Stormo Moen Greeting Fondy fans. I am the youngest of Dr. Stormo’s eight children. I have five sisters and two brothers, and all eight of us grew up playing in and around “the farm” (as we have always called it). Since there is a request for memories of the place I thought I would share… and I will share a lot. The inside of the house used to be beautiful : the smooth, elegant wooden spindles that lined the staircase leading upstairs that also outlined the stairwell that divides the second floor in half; the gigantic, private rooms that screamed with character whether because of the intricately framed window panes or the “secret cubbies” (not very secret because there are very evident doors indicating their presence) where my sister and I would sneak into and read by flashlight. The dining area – at the front of the house, which actually used to be the main entrance and once entertained a full front porch wrapping from one corner of the house to the other – had great built-in china hutches in the corners and I would dust them religiously because I knew “special things” were going to be stored there; the gigantic living area off the kitchen was also beautiful and, for the longest time, had old curtains hanging from the rods and there was an old cradle that I would play with; upstairs, the built-in bookshelves that lined one half of the common area were stacked with old books, outdated copies of National Geographic, some medical anthologies, financial analytics, and some nature reference manuals. The kitchen always had a familiar musty smell and was fun to explore the contents of the cupboards and drawers because I always found something old and interesting. My next older sister and I would often move from room to room with buckets of Mr. Clean and wash the floors until they gleamed; we would talk about how we would arrange the rooms when we moved into the house together.7 June 2013 at 02:32 · Edited · Like · 7
        LesleyAnne Stormo Moen At one point there was a “summer kitchen” that we eventually tore down because the roof fell in. That’s what happens when one builds an addition with a flat-as-a-pancake roof in a Midwestern region prone to heavy snow and rainfall. As a young child I was always instructed to stay out of the summer kitchen because it was dangerous.A bit beyond the house where the kids were trying to demonstrate their German fluency in the 2010 Youtube video, was a ramshackle – but still incredibly designed – house called “the servant’s quarters.” When Colonel Phillips lived in the main house, his servants resided in the servant’s quarters. It took me many years to understand that concept but the day it clicked is the day that I better understood segregation, class privilege and a number of other concepts that I had long struggled with. This was also a fragile structure and it was clear to me that less attention had been used in its construction than had been used in the main house. In the opposite direction of the servant’s quarters there was/is a barn and a shed. There was an old ladder in the barn – one of the rungs was cracked through and we knew to skip over that one – and I remember using it to climb to the loft with my sisters and friends. Normally we would jump from the loft into the mounds of hay we had piled up below, but other times we would arrange the multiple bales of hay into new sitting arrangements. … And the shed…I loved and hated when my dad would unlock the shed door and roll open the creaky door, exposing the darkness to the hot, bright heat. I loved it because I would hear the scurrying of raccoons seeking refuge in their hiding places overhead, and I hated it because I knew those little critters drove my dad nuts. He was always missing some small tool or another and was certain that those “little rascals” had stolen away with whatever he was missing.7 June 2013 at 01:55 · Edited · Like · 3
        LesleyAnne Stormo Moen My dad loved going out to the farm to mow the seemingly endless fields. That was his paradise, just as it was mine. When I could hear my dad’s tractor faintly while I searched the bubbling creek and thick woods for frogs and other natural wonders always I felt like we were both at home. My dad would share my excitement and dismay when I showed him my treasures – whether it be a bucket filled with frogs or a bucket filled with bullet shells found on our property. He explained to me the importance of allowing the frogs to live in their natural habitat just as naturally as he explained that the bullet shells likely came from people sneaking on our property to hunt. We would go out there almost every weekend. One of the scariest memories from my experience at the farm was when my dad decided that it was time to paint the house – something that he did on fairly regular occasion – but instead of using an extension ladder he decided to rent a “cherry picker”. They weren’t the safest contraptions, though, and somehow my dad fell from the unit when it was in a raised position and broke some bones. It was scary to see my dad hurt as a child.7 June 2013 at 02:39 · Edited · Like · 4
        LesleyAnne Stormo Moen As I grew up I noticed that a lot of times when we would get to the farm my dad was less-than thrilled. Eventually I realized that those days, instead of pulling out the tractor first, we took a tour of the perimeter of the house and then he dug around for large panes of thick vinyl windows, plywood, a hammer and some nails. He would “board” up (with expensive vinyl) the windows that had been shattered or the doors that had been torn from their hinges. At some point I realized that he was trying to keep people who didn’t belong in our sacred space out. And at some point I realized that the uninvited people that still welcomed themselves into this space that clearly wasn’t intended for them were actually disrupting the enjoyment that my dad, especially, experienced there. He installed an alarm system which resulted in him receiving a higher volume of middle-of-the-night calls and trips out to the farm to meet the cops and the trespassers, but he still had to board up the windows and doors that the trespassers had violated before getting caught. And, while he never shared this information, I can probably count how many dollars of restitution he received from the trespassers.My breaking point came when I went to the farm with my dad the day after a break-in and someone/some group had destroyed the beautiful spindles on the staircase and stairwell. The spindles were chopped, broken and torn from the fixture, and the beautiful handrails were broken into pieces and used as firewood in the bedroom that was immediately off the kitchen and dining area. There, in the middle of the bedroom floor, underneath the area where the carpet had been rolled back, was a HOLE the size of a fire pit. There was a burn hole the size of a fire pit in the middle of a room in this sacred space I knew as “the farm” and the beautiful spindles I loved to study had been destroyed, and the alphabetical system by which I had arranged the books and magazines had been disrupted. Again: someone/some people thought it was OK to LIGHT A FIRE on the wooden floor, right next to a flammable rug, inside a very old house that a) could quickly go up in flames, and b) did not belong to him/her/them. I could not, for the life of me, understand WHY anyone could/would damage something so beautiful and valuable that wasn’t even theirs to play with.7 June 2013 at 02:43 · Edited · Like · 4
        LesleyAnne Stormo Moen There came a day when I grew up to the point where I was left alone at night while my dad was on-call in a different city and my mom helped ailing relatives in different states. Then it became my responsibility to respond to the late-night calls from the alarm company and the police. And my heart fell to the ground one evening when I arrived at the farm and saw my own peers lining the gravel shoulder of the road. It’s likely they didn’t realize that the property belonged to my family, and it’s also likely that, in the state they were in, they did not recognize me. I knew enough about some of my classmates to know that they were there trying to touch the “haunting”. So, if you have read the entirety of my notes, and you are still curious as to whether there is any paranormal activity on/in these premises or house, take it from one who spent her childhood there that there is NOTHING haunted. There aren’t ghosts or goblins or floating figures. The “apparitions” some claim to see haunting the upstairs windows are contraptions that one of my family members gleefully created last summer while I was there; if I remember correctly they are made of an old rug, some hangers, a Halloween pumpkin decoration, some other random objects that trespassers have brought inside with them.7 June 2013 at 02:45 · Edited · Like · 4
        LesleyAnne Stormo Moen Finally, I suppose that with the passing of a family member – especially a parent or sibling or child – or maybe just having the loyalty of being a family member, it’s a natural tendency to rise up and defend the defenseless. As has been noted on this thread, my dad died last month on May 17 (http://www.legacy.com/obitua…/fdlreporter/obituary.aspx…). Having read most of the 203 comments left previously and not knowing how to respond to some of the ignorant accusations towards my dad and my family, I took some time to consider how I might best satisfy the curiosity of some, kill the curiosity of others, and defend the integrity of my own father. So this is what I will share: My dad was accused of being greedy, grumpy and stiff because he did not accept a financial offer for his paradise, because he did not care to share with strangers his intentions for his personal property, and because he was a bit “dry” when delivering the news that one’s parent had died. In his defense, the last word I would use to describe my father is “greedy.” He spent a great portion of his career humbly and quietly serving the greater Fond du Lac community not only as a county coroner and forensic pathologist responsible for delivering really difficult news to many people, but in other capacities as well. He carried himself with integrity and based his life on a foundation of values he believed served the greater good. Because my parents declined an undocumented but publicly reported $1.2M offer for their property does not reflect their greed; in my opinion they demonstrated less greed by refusing the offer. Money doesn’t buy happiness, and my dad loved that piece of land, and he knew that many of his children love it as well. And finally, as far as my dad being grumpy goes…I imagine it’s true that he wasn’t very forthcoming with information about what he intended to do with the house/property, primarily because he was not entirely sure himself. My dad knew that he enjoyed being out there despite the headaches and costs incurred by trespassers, and he shared his hopes and dreams with people he trusted and had relationships with… It’s a common trait of introverts to be a bit guarded, and a common trait of intelligence to be a bit dry-witted in personality. My dad was intelligent and a strong introvert but contributed – and will continue to contribute – greatly to the community by way of his thoughtful responses and careful investments.7 June 2013 at 03:08 · Edited · Unlike · 9
        LesleyAnne Stormo Moen And so I have written a bit of a booklet that I am confident my family will be distressed to know about but that I hope will put to rest some of the stories about and scavenging around this “haunted house”. This landmark is one of my favorite places to visit when I return home, and it holds many special memories of my dad and childhood. I don’t know what will happen with the property in the future, but losing it at this point would be like losing my father all over again. (Thanks, Dad, for realizing that the memories you inspired in your children were worth more than a million bucks. I sure do miss you!)7 June 2013 at 02:52

        • Millie

          July 26, 2016 at 11:16 am

          I really enjoyed reading about your childhood home and all the great memories you have had living there. I wish people would understand that these old homes have great stories to tell if they could talk. I was born a year before you in Pa. and grew up on a farm with a great Aunt and Uncle. I loved that house and hope the people living in it now are enjoying it to (no one farms it anymore) I was born not far from that house in another old house and I saw when I was back to visit (I’m now in Wi. and have been for 40 years) that no one lives in it anymore and things have brush/trees have taking over I hope no one is going in and destroying it. I was born in that house…and had my Great Uncle made a will before he died half the house would of been left to me. Anyway I’ll be writing a book here if I don’t stop. Thank you for taking the time to clear up the stories that people have spread. Millie July 2016

        • Mindy

          July 27, 2016 at 1:55 pm

          Thank you for sharing that so everyone can see the truth about the Stormo house once and for all. Dr Stormo was a really nice man and he has a large and lovely and well educated family.
          Let all of this nonsense go ghost hunting folks, nothing to see here.

What do you think?