You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead ...
All apologies to those Rod Serling fans out there, but this time we aren't talking about the Twilight Zone. Rather, it’s Main Street in downtown Menomonee Falls.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, several folks who work downtown say they are firsthand witnesses of strange energy operating inside their buildings. No one can explain what it might be, but they’ll all tell you it’s definitely something.
And according to several paranormal research groups in the Milwaukee area, downtown Menomonee Falls has all the right physical features to make spiritual activity more prevalent, or perhaps we're just more perceptive of the paranormal.
Seeing Emily play
Walk into Pink Lemonade Salon on any given day and ask them about Emily. You’ll likely get a smile, and definitely a few stories. Pink Lemonade manager Dionne Petropoulos said that’s the name they gave to the mischievous spirit that haunts the building.
Last year, Petropoulos and her coworkers were enjoying a Christmas party. They had locked up the salon and Petropoulos and another employee were the only two with keys, and they were together.
When they returned later in the evening, they were shocked to find a haircutting scissors jammed into side of their front desk. Apparently, Emily also took the time to turn on the water in a back room, and flooded the salon floor. There were no other signs of forced entry, and the doors were locked.
“The scissors were in so deep we couldn’t get them out and needed to call a stronger guy over to pull them out,” Petropoulos said.
On another occasion, Petropoulos and a coworker left the store for just an hour to run an errand. Again, they locked down the store and they were the only two with a key. When they returned, every single salon chair had been pushed into the middle of the room.
Two stylists said they have actually seen Emily and even mistook her for a customer one evening. However, she suddenly vanished.
They described her as a young girl with long hair wearing a sweater. There have been numerous instances where employees recall hearing a little girl laughing in the room, and things crash and fall unexplainably.
“When stuff happens, we just say, ‘It probably was Emily.’” Petropoulos said with a smile.
Paranormal activity widespread in downtown
It seems Emily also likes to play next door at as well. Although owner Angelo Petropoulos is married to Dionne, he is much more skeptical about the existence of paranormal activity.
“I don’t believe in ghosts, but have some weird things happened? Yes,” Petropoulos said. “Can I explain them? No.”
One night at about 1 a.m., Petropoulos said he was closing the bar down, and was the only one in Café Vino. Suddenly, before his eyes, he watched a bar stool slowly slide backward squeaking across the floor as if someone was pulling it out to sit in it.
“I literally came out from behind the bar, sat in the very bar stool and said, ‘You aren’t going to scare me,’” Petropoulos said.
He’s witnessed the door to the kitchen open by itself, and his employees have also heard the gleeful laughing of the little girl while alone at the bar.
But paranormal activity isn’t isolated to that building alone, which long ago was a hotel on the corner of Mill and Main streets. Just a few doors down, something eerie might be lurking in the cellar of Purloin Art Studio.
Cale Youngbeck is the handyman for several downtown buildings owned by his uncle Bill Bode. He was working on a project in another building, but left a tool he needed back at Purloin. Rather than enter through the front door to grab it, he decided to go through the cellar.
A single bulb provided the only light in the windowless cellar. Youngbeck’s single shadow was cast against the wall. However, when he glanced up again, he saw that a second silhouette of a human figure was accompanying him in the dark cellar.
“I didn’t even attempt to see what it was. The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I was pretty creeped out,” Youngbeck said. “I ran out of there instantly.”
At Trivera, which has offices in the historic Mill Building, unexplainable incidents are a routine part of the job.
Owners Tom and Marjie Snyder said the strong smell of sulphur will frequently fill the room, which is a sign of paranormal occurrences. Their XM radio has often switched channels on its own, and a securely hung sign mysteriously flew off the wall one day.
Their suspicions were reinforced with some proof when a job applicant came into the building for an interview. This particular applicant also happened to be a paranormal investigator.
“When he walked out of the elevator he instantly stopped dead in his tracks and said, ‘This place is haunted,’” Tom Snyder said.
Accounts of spiritual activity in the basement of A.J. O’Brady’s have also been circulated. Apparently this mischievous spirit likes to knock things off the shelves while employees are downstairs.
All this spritual mischief; however, could be pegged to a spirit said to roam downtown.
There is a local legend regarding a man who was hit by a car and killed on Main Street long ago. According to the tale, the tall bearded man can be spotted at times walking along Main Street late at night murmuring to himself. He’s been known to meddle with the downtown clock, and some have blamed him for the fire that destroyed the Honeybucket long ago.
A hotbed of spiritual activity
Throughout the Greater Milwaukee area, there are several groups that specialize in the scientific study and investigation of paranormal activity. After contacting three of these groups, the general consensus among them was that downtown Menomonee Falls has all the physical traits conducive of paranormal activity.
Since spiritual beings do not possess a physical body, they must draw upon the free energy in the environment in order to manifest themselves in some way, said Noah Leigh, a lead investigator with Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee. The energy they draw upon is monitored with instruments that measure electromagnetic waves.
“There are a number of factors that may play a role in creating spiritual energy,” Leigh said. “Having a body of water nearby that flows close to buildings or underneath them, and having limestone as bedrock in an area can act as a battery to store this energy.”
Check both of those off of the list for downtown Menomonee Falls. Water flows continually over the top of Lepper Dam from Mill Pond Park, which is built of limestone. The river then flows through carving a path through the limestone bedrock.
Leigh said the quartz that is within the limestone is the key energy booster. He said quartz was once used in radio communications to transmit signals, and is utilized in a similar way in the paranormal realm. Water is also a good conductor of electricity and Leigh said they have discovered a higher level of paranormal activity occurs near bodies of water.
D.W. Steffan, an investigator with the Greater Milwaukee Paranormal Research Group, said Falls’ historic downtown buildings are also conduits of energy that spirits draw from. Old wiring emits electromagnetic energy, and often the old wiring is still within buildings and paired with updated wiring.
He said running the new and old parallel to each other in old buildings acts as an amplifier for energy emitted — similar to an old fashioned television attenna. Lastly, the tall power lines that run through downtown are also strong conduits of electromagnetic energy.
“The Falls is a place I’d love to spend more time in,” Steffan said. “We get calls from many people out there, but they are very strict about remaining confidential, which is too bad.”
Steffan said the physical factors combine in downtown Menomonee Falls to create what he calls a “spiritual cage” where not only is paranormal activity more prevalent, but our ability to perceive it is also heightened.
“When you get all these factors together you in a sense have a giant electromagnetic field in an area, and you can become more alert to things you wouldn’t normally hear and wouldn’t normally see,” Steffan said.
Karen Kolasa, an investigator with Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, is also what they term a “sensitive." A “sensitive” is someone who can physically feel the effects in areas with a heightened amount of electromagnetic energy. She said it causes her to at times feel queasy or have a headache.
Kolasa said people who live near areas of high electromagnetic energy can have similar side effects. It may also be an explanation behind why a person claims to feel a spiritual presence or see things.
“Any area with high EMF frequencies can cause anyone to feel like they’re being watched, or have that strange feeling like someone is following them,” Kolasa said. “Often that can explain why people see things, or feel the presence of a spirit.”
Believe it or not
Paranormal investigators vow that they approach their research and investigations of paranormal activity like any other scientist. They use data and continually test their assumptions in an attempt to sort fact from fiction.
“There are no absolutes in this field, but there are beliefs. However these are beliefs that should be well tested and continually challenged,” Steffan said.
In fact, Steffan has been testing the electromagnetic qualities of limestone. He said they’ve placed limestone in a microwave, among many other experiments, to test the rock’s residual electromagnetic field.
For many skeptics, the stories and evidence presented in this article will simply be passed off and explained away in some rational matter. But next time you find yourself in downtown Menomonee Falls, pay close attention to whether your paranormal senses are heightened. You might have an unbelievable story to tell as well.