Is Janesville Senior Center Haunted?

Janesville Senior Center

Phantom performers and child spirits may still reside at this former Carnegie library

Paranormal Activity at the
Janesville Senior Center

  • The apparition of a 'lady in white' has been reported around the old theater
  • Unexplained knocks and footsteps have been heard in the theater
  • Unsettling feelings have been reported in certain areas
  • Strange sounds have been heard on the second floor
  • Potential EVPs have been captured in past investigations

Janesville Senior Center:
Historic Downtown Cornerstone

Around the bustling Courthouse Hill neighborhood of downtown Janesville, Wisconsin, historic buildings are never far away, but there is one that stands out from the crowd: The Janesville Senior Center. The center has been a useful community resource downtown for decades, but the building has been a fixture of city culture for generations longer.

This former carnegie library was turned into a community center for the elderly

While its firm masonry structure and striking neo-classical columns form a foreboding façade, the building proudly wears markings of its past life. The title, ‘Janesville Public Library’ runs wide across the building’s pediment, joined by a familiar name further down, ‘Carnegie.’

Indeed, the Janesville Senior Center was once one of Wisconsin’s first Carnegie libraries. And though that era is far gone, some say there’s a few spirits inside that keep the building’s history alive.

Timeline of Janesville Senior Center's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Janesville Senior Center through the years

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In the years after the Civil War, Janesville, Wisconsin, was a growing community in need of public services. In this time, many private citizens took to providing education, culture, and utilities, including a shared library. The Janesville library started in 1865 as part of the local Young Men’s Association.

Membership initially cost a yearly fee, but was made free in 1883 after generous donations. The following year, the library was contracted by the city to be the formal public library.

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The public library proved popular with Janesville residents and quickly outgrew the space the city supported. Luckily, a large donation from famed industrialist Andrew Carnegie came in March, 1901, to be used for a brand new library.

The city used Carnegie’s donation to buy a group of downtown houses owned by E.F. Woods to build the new library on, and construction started swiftly. The new Janesville Public Library opened in 1903 to great success.

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Along with carrying over 16,000 books when it opened, the top floor of the new library housed a spacious theater that was originally used by the local Apollo Club performance troupe to put on shows, eventually being used in the 1930s by the Janesville Little Theater.

As time went on, the library became increasingly popular with children and young adults in the community, leading to the construction of a children’s reading room.

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By the early 1960s, the library was in need of more space for its expanding book collection. The city quickly approved the construction of a new, larger building down the block, which was completed in 1968.

But, though the library had moved out, the Janesville Little Theater continued to use the building for performances into the 1990s. During this time, the old Carnegie Library was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Is Janesville Senior Center Haunted?

After the Little Theater moved out in the 1990s, the building was renovated into the local senior center. Since then, it has continued providing the city with necessary public services, entertainment, and a sense of community amongst local senior citizens.

The original top floor theater still remains, though it is unchanged since the 1930s and is generally off limits to the public. But, those who have visited the old theater have noted strange happenings up there, from odd sounds to visible specters still lingering.

And, folks on lower floors have had their own unexplainable encounters with strange entities, all giving way to legends of the building being haunted. But just who is haunting this historic community center?

Dusty theater chairs remain from days of use in the theater, now the shuffling sounds on this floor are of a more paranormal persuation

Janesville Senior Center Haunted by Lady in White

Though the area is closed off to the public most of the time, many of those who have gone up to the top floor theater have returned with a few ghost stories. One ghostly soul lingering there is a young woman wearing a flowing white dress. Because of this, she was dubbed as the ‘lady in white’ by those who have seen her.

Sightings of her apparition are rare, but other activity is also attributed to her. These reports include strange sounds and an off-putting feeling around the old theater. Sounds of knocking and disembodied footsteps have also been reported in the theater.

The stairs up to the locked and untouched theater in Janesville Senior Center where a young ghostly woman in white is encountered

Ghost of young boy at Janesville Senior Center

On the building’s second floor, the spirit of a young boy has been encountered. Workers at the senior center, as well as police officers stationed there during the COVID-19 pandemic, have reported strange sounds on the second floor that have been attributed to this young spirit.

Previous investigations of the second floor have resulted in recordings of potential EVPs. Historical records indicate that an infant boy, Allan Woods, did die on the property prior to the library being built. But whether the child spirit reported in the center is Allan Woods has yet to be substantiated.

Paranormal Experiences at Janesville Senior Center

The Janesville Senior Center today keeps its schedule rather busy with new events and classes for local seniors, so it’s not often you’ll hear them make mention of their resident spirits. But, paranormal investigations have been performed there in the past. Public events detailing the hauntings around the building have also been held on occasion as well.

A community area on the second floor of the haunted Janesville Senior Center, where it is said the ghosts of a young boy is seen

And as more local seniors visit the center and take in what it has to offer, more people are reporting encounters with the center’s ghostly residents, heightening their haunting reputation.

It sure seems that the spirits around the Janesville Senior Center take any opportunity to be as loud as they want, perhaps relishing that no librarian will ‘shhh!’ them anymore.