Nestled among the picturesque landscapes and historical landmarks in the heart of Madison is Sanitarium Hill, the neighborhood’s own something strange. First constructed in 1930 to be a tuberculosis ward, the hill has since become a hotbed for paranormal activity and investigations.
When Thomas and Annie Corrington came to Madison for a football game on Sept. 9, a visit to the hill seemed like a natural choice. As a paranormal investigation team based out of St. Joseph, Missouri, the two saw a need to highlight the paranormal history of their town, Thomas said.
Their fascination with the link between Native American grounds — which Sanitarium Hill stands upon — and paranormal activity compelled them to visit the site.
“It definitely has a feel about it,” Thomas said.
Sanitarium Hill has a long history. The medical facility shut down in 1966. Lake View Sanitarium, which the hill is named after, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. Sanitarium Hill became a Dane County park more than 10 years later.
The Corringtons have had luck in the past investigating the former locations of nurses' dormitories, Thomas said. They made their way to Sanitarium Hill in hopes of finding something similarly enigmatic and paranormal.
“They had [the nurses' dormitory] set up like a museum, expecting people to come and walk the grounds,” Annie said.
In 2015, Dane County demolished the nurses' dormitory, and in 2016, Dane County renovated the fountain on the great lawn. Today, all that is left of the 20,000-square-foot historic dormitory is a small brick portion of the veranda that once stood.
The Corringtons then moved toward the site’s chapel.
“The name on the front of the chapel is Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church 1884,” Thomas said. “From the outside, it looks like a very typical church from the 1880s.”
The site has become popular with paranormal investigators in recent years. In 2014, Youtuber Gregor Wilke visited the site, posting a video that accrued over 30,000 views where a “ghostlike figure” and “orb” were shown on the site.
As Thomas and Annie navigated the grounds of Sanitarium Hill, they set up K-II meters across the site. K-II meters are a piece of technology popular in the field of ghost hunting that detect electromagnetic fields and measure them with a bright, colored array of LEDs.
“We have about six K-II’s that we use,” Thomas said. “We asked for any spirits in the woods that wanted to communicate with us to move closer to the K-II meter.”
In the Corringtons' investigation, Lake View Sanitarium’s cemetery became a primary use for this proprietary ghost-hunting technology.
“We walked through the cemetery and took pictures of headstones with strange or unusual carvings on them,” Thomas said. “At that time, we did not receive a response on our K-II meter.”
The sanitarium is associated with many haunted stories — smokestacks where bodies were burned, a large underground tunnel for the dead and stories about crematorium quotas.
The Corringtons’ investigation is not yet finished, they said.
“We would love to go back sometime and investigate the actual building that is in use,” Thomas said. “We feel like the potential is there for a really great paranormal investigation. However, it would have to be an investigation that could be done over the course of a few days.”
Jasper Bernstein is the Associate News Editor for The Daily Cardinal. Follow him on Twitter at @jasperberns.