The Ghost of Club Tavern

An interview with Moose Werner, owner of the haunted Middleton music venue, Club Tavern
by Mike Huberty
March 2016

The Haunted Club Tavern in Middleton, WI

The Haunted Club Tavern in Middleton, WI

Middleton’s Club Tavern has been a mainstay for live music on the west side for decades. The bar itself has been around for a lot longer than that and was even featured in the 1975 book, Blue-collar Aristocrats: Life-styles at a Working-class Tavern, a sociological study that looked through the other end of the hippie spectrum during the Vietnam generation, but what excited me the most about the place was the fact that I’ve heard several times from the staff that the Club Tavern was haunted.

So, I had to go directly to the Moose’s mouth (ba-dum-dum) and ask Moose Werner, the Club Tavern’s owner for the past thirty six years what he knows about the ghost.

It’s always fun when you ask someone a question about a haunting and they respond matter-of-factly with an “Oh yeah, there’s a ghost in the building.” And in Moose’s situation at the Club, he says that he even knows who the ghost is.

The Club Tavern building has a long history. According to Moose, the original structure was built “somewhere between 1840 and 1860 and the property was originally purchased from the Winnebagos since 1818 or so.”

He prefers not to name the ghost in public because it was a personal friend of his, but he’s confirmed that his staff has seen the apparition a few times.

“So I’m out of town on vacation”, Moose begins, “and one night my general manager comes out of the basement after closing up and comes upstairs. The rest of the building was all locked up but he sees a guy on the stairs going from the main barroom to the stage. He says, ‘You’ve gotta get out of here’ and when he turned around and looked back the guy had disappeared. He didn’t see him walk out the door and when I got back from vacation, he described what he saw and the person he described standing there was my friend.”

That’s not all though, even performers at the Club have seen the ghost. Moose describes an encounter with a popular touring country artist, Dale Watson. “So, Dale, who’s played the Tavern many times came up to me when I was collecting cover charge for the show and he’d been in the front room having dinner. He walks up to me and asks, ‘Who’s [my friend’s name]? This guy just sat down and had dinner with me and was telling me about the Tavern.’”

So, it’s another reason to catch a live show there. Not only are you going to hear a great band, you just might run into the patron who loved the place so much, he never wanted to go home.

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