By Joe Bachman
The First Ward School House on Irving St. is known as one of Wisconsin Rapids’ most active haunts — as it’s now featured in U.S. Cellular’s “Local Haunts” series.
The school was finished in 1896, and since endured many setbacks — including the dismantling of the bell tower from a lightning strike in 1910, to a roof fire in 1921. The school was eventually shut down in 1977, and vacated in 1979.
“We did a lot of research online trying to find the most haunted places inside our footprint,” said U.S. Cellular Social Media Manager Mike Herron.
Craig Nehring, of Fox Valley Ghost Hunters, recommended the site as a prime location for one of a few featured in the Local Haunts series.
“We wanted to have some fun around the Halloween season,” said Herron. “We thought there might be a really cool opportunity to check out these local stories inside our footprint for potential paranormal activity.”
Two videos exist inside First Ward School, including a 360 degree video where viewers can control what they see throughout. The video can be accessed via U.S. Cellular’s Facebook page.
As for the haunting itself, Herron may or may not have experienced paranormal activity of his own.
“There were a lot of strange and interesting things that happened — some of them explainable, some of them weren’t,” said Herron. “The crazy thing was that the audio we captured wasn’t edited at all, so we did find some very interesting sounds and noises after the fact, and even some voices. — There’s definitely something there.”
First Ward School House is located at 1041 12th St. North.