The Stones Throw: A True Local Haunt

Nathan Hopp, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Wisconsin is home to a number of purportedly paranormal locations that have caught the attention of ghost hunters, from the Devil’s Punchbowl in Menomonie to “beastly” Bray Road in Elkhorn and even Milwaukee’s famous Pfister Hotel. For many Eau Claire residents, however, the Stones Throw, 304 Eau Claire St., is more than just a recognizable downtown nightspot.

Originally built as a bank in 1893, the imposing building at the corner of South Barstow and Eau Claire streets that now houses the Stones Throw has been through many changes of ownership and tenants, paranormal investigator Devon Hall wrote in her book “Haunted Chippewa Valley.” Called the Cameron-Drummond-Slagsvold Building after its construction, the Romanesque structure would change its name to the Chippewa Valley Bank, then Samuelson’s Department Store, then became an upscale restaurant complete with an upper-floor balcony and trademark stained-glass windows. Between the 1980s and the 2000s, the space was at times a dance club, a gay bar, and a blues club. Despite numerous transformations over the years, the Stones Throw remains a bar featuring live music from across the Midwest.

But the Stones Throw isn’t just notable for its history and architecture: It’s also rumored to be a place where some patrons arrive but never leave. Legend has it that a man took his life by hanging himself inside the building during the early 1900s, and that another man was dragged into the basement after being murdered. Although paranormal investigators Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk were unable to verify these grisly incidents, this hasn’t stopped instances of owners, bartenders, and loyal patrons experiencing the paranormal.

Employees have reported hearing footsteps on the empty balcony and voices in deserted hallways and bathrooms. Doors have slammed on their own, chairs have moved around, jackets have flown off hooks, and unknown figures have disappeared without a trace. Long-time bartender Matthew Gehler once noted a moment where, during a heated argument between patrons, a glass bottle flew off the shelf into a wall without him even being near it.

“Whatever is here wants to make their presence known,” he explained, “but there’s definitely something here.”

In spite of these occurrences, employees have never felt too afraid or unpleasant, although they have to keep an eye out for more eerie activities. As Halloween draws nearer in Eau Claire, the Stones Throw remains a charming pub for patrons and spirits alike to congregate.