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500 Lincoln Drive (U.W. Madison Campus)

Website: UW Wisconsin (main)




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Directions: Take Park Street north, into the city of Madison, and then UW Campus area. Take a left on Observation Drive. Bascom Hall will be on the top of the hill.





The story of Bascom Hall begins in 1838, when Congress approved a land grant for the creation of a University, in Madison. College Hill (later to become Bascom Hill), became part of the University in 1848.

University Hall (later to become Bascom Hall), opened it's doors in 1859. For the small campus, University Hall was to be used as an "all-purpose student building" (containing lecture rooms, a library, an observatory, chapel, dining hall, etc.).

In 1909, a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln was to be placed in front of University Hall. It was when workmen were digging the foundation for the statue, that they discovered the skeletal remains of two people.

At first, the remains were believed to be those of Indians (University Hall was reportedly built on an Indian Burial Mound), however, wooden coffin remains were also found amongst the human remains. Making these not Indian skeletons.

Further investigation identified the remains as belonging to William Nelson, who died in 1837 (of typhoid), and Sammuel Warren, who died in 1838 (after being stuck by lightning, while working on construction of the first Capitol). The bones were reburied underneath the south steps (leading to the statue). A small plaque marks the spot where the remains are buried.


In 1916, fire destroyed the dome that sat on top of the hall. If not for the efforts of the Madison fire department and UW students (students aided firemen by bringing buckets of water up the hill), the whole building may have been lost.

In 1920, University Hall was offically renamed Bascom Hall, in honor of former University President, John Bascom (UW president from 1874-1887).



  • Two spirits (believed to be William Nelson & Samuel Warren), have been seen standing next to, or behind the statue of Lincoln. Sometimes the spirits appear as young men. Other times, they appear together as a young and old man.


  • Inside Bascom Hall, the building's namesake, John Bascom, is said to roam the hallways, still keeping an eye on the student body. While in the "Great Hall", students have reported the feeling of being watched, and feeling cold breezes, when no source for the breeze can be found.




  • Bascom Hall was reportedly built on an Indian burial mound.

    The appearence of Mr. Nelson, and Mr. Warren, is most likely due to their final resting place, being disturbed by the building of the Lincoln statue. Then to be reburied in a spot where students are constantly walking over, day after day, may be a tad upsetting to them.
    When the two spirits are seen, they don't appear angry (one witness claimed that they actually smiled
    at her). Maybe they just want people to know their there, and to walk a little
    lighter, when crossing the south steps.







    ...The two markers.


    ...William Nelson


    ...Samuel Warren


    ....Old postcard.