Science Hall's dramatic Gothic architecture, secret tunnels and bats in the attic lend the campus landmark an air of mystery. But the ghost stories can be traced back to the building's past, according to Richard Hendricks of the Wisconsin Paranormal Research Center.
Medical students in the Anatomy Department once performed autopsies on cadavers in Science Hall. In 1904, the north wing of the fourth floor was sectioned off into small, windowless rooms where first-year medical students worked on cadavers. According to Clarence W. Olmstead, author of Science Hall — The First Century, medical students and faculty used a “cadaver lift” to move bodies from the basement morgue to the fourth-floor dissection laboratory.
Years after the Department of Anatomy moved out of Science Hall, some of these cadavers are still at home there — sort of. In 1974, graduate students in the Geography Department found a stray embalmed human foot in the attic, left behind by the Anatomy Department when it moved out in 1956. A set of leg bones from a “tall man” have also been found in the dark corners of the attic. These incidents inspired a comic book series, “The Phantom of Bascom Hill,” and a mystery novel set in Science Hall.