In the early twentieth century, the city of Whitewater earned the moniker Second Salem due to rumors surrounding the existence of witches and demons in the region. This legend likely originated from the Morris Pratt Institute, a spiritualist organization located in the town.
During the mid-1800s, Pratt and his brothers relocated from upstate New York to Wisconsin. Possessing a strong inclination towards spiritualism, Pratt established the Pratt Institute in 1888 and officially opened its doors in 1889. Throughout his tenure as the institute’s director, Pratt maintained a discreet demeanor. He personally undertook the design and construction of the building, which stood at the intersection of present-day Center Street and Fremont Street. Over the years, the Whitewater Register reported various aspects of the institution, including its curriculum encompassing psychic research, comparative religion, evolution, and the study of the Bible in connection with spiritualist principles. Additionally, weekly séances took place in the all-white room located on the third floor of the school.
Morris Pratt passed away in 1902 at the age of 81, but the school was handed over to the Morris Pratt Institution Association, which transformed it into an institution offering both general studies and spiritual studies. Operating in Whitewater until 1946, the school experienced a temporary closure during the Great Depression. Subsequently, the institute relocated to Milwaukee and continues its active presence to this day. In the 1950s, the original building was purchased by AT&T and subsequently demolished.
As time passed, a series of additional curious occurrences breathed new life into this captivating narrative. The town became infamous for its connections to gatherings of witches at the enigmatic Witchtower, a water tower nestled within Starin Park. Furthermore, the community was plagued by baffling murders, unsettling encounters with unearthly beings in the depths of the lake, and a host of unexplainable phenomena that only deepened the enigma surrounding the place.
Whitewater has its fair share of haunting tales, and some of them strike close to the Whitewater University campus itself. In an article published by The Week in 1996, the spotlight was on Myrtle, a cook for boarding students at our university. Myrtle’s life took a dark turn when she entered into a marriage with Edward Shaude, the proprietor of a local milk business. Their union appeared blissful until Myrtle’s heart became captivated by a Whitewater student, compelling her to commit a heinous act. In 1922, she resorted to poisoning her husband, forever earning the notorious moniker of the “poison widow.”
Author Linda Godfrey highlights the existence of the witch’s triangle in her book titled “Haunted Wisconsin, Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Badger State.” This peculiar triangle is formed by Oak Grove Cemetery, Hillside Cemetery, and Calvary Cemetery, situated in close proximity to the Williams Center and Fischer Hall. It is believed that all areas within this isosceles triangle are haunted, with spirits frequently traversing between the cemeteries. Interestingly, the Pratt Institute used to occupy the exact center of these three burial grounds.
This region of south central Wisconsin also encompasses the territory of the Beast of Bray Road, a creature resembling a werewolf, which was frequently sighted in the early 1990s. Additionally, there is the enigmatic figure known as the Wild Man of La Grange, who was apprehended by local authorities in 1929. These peculiar occurrences, notable figures, and unique architectural landmarks constitute an integral part of our shared history, endowing our locality with its distinctiveness.
Second Salem capitalizes on the rich history of Whitewater and its legends by offering a range of craft beverages that pay homage to its heritage. Their diverse selection includes enticing choices such as The Beast of Bray Road Amber Ale, Wytches Brew Coffee Porter, Black Mass Stout, Old Main Golden Ale, Witchtower Pale Ale, Bone Orchard IPA, Killer Hill Winter Ale, The Reaper Pale Wheat Ale, the Wild Man of La Grange Hefeweizen, and many more. These brews come in various styles, with some being their signature offerings and others available seasonally, ensuring a wide array of options throughout the year.
Christ G. Christon is a first-generation immigrant and a native of Whitewater. His journey began at the tender age of 8 when he started washing dishes at his father’s restaurant, Novak’s Family Restaurant. As the years went by, Christon gradually worked his way up to become a short-order line cook during the day, while also honing his skills as a pizza maker at his father’s pizzeria, Gus’ Pizza Palace, during the evenings.
After completing studies at UW – Whitewater in 2003, he took on the role of full-time manager of Gus’ Pizza. In May of 2010, an exciting opportunity presented itself when he bought out his father’s share of Novak’s Restaurant. Novak’s went through a significant transformation and reemerged as Lakeside Pub. Meanwhile, Christon’s family continued to manage Gus’ Pizza, which was conveniently situated across the street. The creation of Lakeside Pub provided Christon with the perfect opportunity to pursue his true passion: brewing craft beer. With a vision in mind, Christon remodeled the back banquet room into a pub. The renovated section of the establishment was named Lakefront Pub and proudly opened its doors in 2011.
Forward to 2014, Christon and Thayer Coburn, also a resident of Whitewater, along with fellow supporters renovated the building so that it now includes the brewing area, the pub area, a meeting room and a new Tap Room, and launched the Second Salem Brewing Company as a craft brewery and restaurant.
Thayer Coburn, is a fourth a fourth-generation Whitewater native, who drank his first craft beer while attending college in California during the West Coast’s craft brewing explosion of the early 90’s, is a retired opera singer. Thayer divided his time between Second Salem and The Coburn Company, his family’s wholesale farm equipment and printing business founded in 1925.
The brewery has a one-barrel nanobrewery. Second Salem’s has a variety of brewing equipment, including a 1-barrel BrauKon brewhouse, a 7-barrel fermenter, and a 3-barrel brite tank. The brewery also has a canning line, which allows them to distribute their beer throughout Wisconsin. Recently they added a second barrel.
According to the employees of Second Salem, they firmly believe that the establishment is haunted. This building has stood since the 1800s, serving various purposes over the years, including a blacksmith shop, a furniture store, and a boiler unit company, among others.
The Tap Room boasts a generous space that offers plentiful seating and a lively ambiance, ensuring patrons can thoroughly enjoy their visit. For those desiring a more exclusive affair, an additional room is available to host special events. Moreover, guests can unwind on the patio, where they can soak in the picturesque vistas of Cravath Lake, adding a delightful touch of serenity to their experience.
The Taproom’s vast interior is adorned with prominent posters meticulously detailing the unique characteristics of their diverse beer selection. Christon holds a special fondness for the visual representation associated with his light-colored wheat beer, known as “The Reaper.” The imagery showcases the Grim Reaper atop an Esterly Reaper, a historic wheat harvesting device pioneered by the Esterly family in Whitewater during the mid-1800s. To enhance the connection to eerie mythology, the reaper (including the Grim Reaper!) is depicted being pulled by a spectral dark horse amidst sheaves of wheat.
Second Salem Brewing Company offers a variety of craft beers, including IPAs, stouts, porters, and ales. It also has a full kitchen that serves up pub fare, such as burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas. The brewery is open seven days a week and has a taproom with a comfortable, inviting atmosphere.
IPA – New England / Hazy
Intrepid locals Insist that an apparition haunts Whitewater’s Hills/de Cemetery, just across the lake behind Second Salem. This spirit —a young lady dressed In a gauzy, pale dress — silently emerges In the early morning, and then floats away, eventually disappearing near the grave of famed spiritualist Morris Pratt. Celebrate this unknown lady with Apparition Hazy IPA, a cloudy and light malt bill balanced with the tropical notes of Denali, Citra, Crystal, and Mosaic.
Wheat Beer – Hefeweizen
Wildman Weizen is a classic German weizen, or wheat, beer. In this beer, both hops and malt take a back seat to the unique characteristics of Weistephaner yeast, which imparts a marked banana/clove flavor and aroma. This beer is 50% wheat, which yields a light mouthfeel, a rich and creamy foam head, and the classic cloudy appearance
In the German tradition, this autumn beer is brewed in the Märzen style and fermented as an ale. The glimmering orange-gold hue and rocky, tenacious head release a delicious aroma of fresh toasted malt and noble (German) hops. The medium body and creaminess wash a hint of caramel, lots of crisp, clean maltiness and an earthy finish across the palate. Hearty without being heavy, fresh and brisk in the finish.
IPA – New England / Hazy
Made to drink during the traditional white Wisconsin winter, and named after the treacherous sledding hill on the UW-Whitewater campus, this brew is full of winter spirit. With the rich flavors of fresh ginger, organic honey and cinnamon, this beer is sure to warm you up during the cold winter months.
Lager – Vienna
Copper colored a medium body, slight malt sweetness and a subtle hop bite with the malt and aroma flavor having a toasted character. Our Vienna Lager is brewed with half Vienna malts creating a delicate malt aroma with a slightly caramelized and toasted malt character.
Stout – Other
The Black Mass is the ritual culmination of the witching hour, the time when ghosts, ghouls and goblins are at their most powerful. Gather your favorite creatures together around a glass of Black Mass Stout and see what mischief you can create! Our take on a traditional American Stout features a subtle hop profile that accents the mixture of light chocolate malt body while also complimenting the roasted barely finish.
Golden Ale – Other
Old Main Golden Ale honors Old Main, which succumbed to a mysterious fire in 1970 after 102 years as the spiritual center of Whitewater’s university campus. More malty and hoppy than a mass-produced American lager, OMG has a smooth mouthfeel, a rich, golden hue, and white wine-like notes of flowers and gooseberry. This palate-pleasing ale pairs well with just about anything, and will make you say “OMG!”
Pale Ale – American
Some say the watertower near Whitewater’s university campus served as a sacrificial altar. Others claim it was the gathering place for a witch’s coven. But there’s one thing everybody can agree on – Witchtower Pale Ale’s orange color and medium body wrap you in aromas of flower and grapefruit, making the Witchtower a perfect companion for spicier foods.
IPA – American
Second Salem Brewing Company sits in the base of a triangle formed by Whitewater’s three bone orchards (cemeteries). In honor of this fortuitous geography we bring you Bone Orchard IPA, our three-hop take on the traditional IPA. Celebrate another day above ground with the deep orange, moderately malty Bone Orchard, balanced by classically-bitter Centennial and bright tropical fruit-juicy Citra and Mosaic hops
Porter – Coffee
Witches’ gatherings, strange murders, unearthly lake creatures, and other unexplained phenomena – not to mention being home to the original Morris Pratt Institute – earned early-20th-century Whitewater the nickname “The Second Salem.” Second Salem Coffee Porter’s dark, brooding appearance, creamy mouthfeel and hint-of-raisins sweetness invite you to contemplate Whitewater’s mysterious past and unknowable future.
Lager – Vienna
For decades, the Beast of Bray Road haunted the countryside between Whitewater and Elkhorn. After a long night of terrorizing the neighbors, we believe a 7-foot-tall, 400-pound hairy biped would have reached for this American Amber Ale. The Beast of Bray Road Amber Ale has voluminous body, malty complexity, and pronounced spicy, herbal, and piney hop character, and holds its own with just about anything on the dinner table.
Wheat Beer – Hefeweizen
In February 1929, local authorities apprehended a “wild looking individual…short, stocky, be-whiskered, unkempt…and with no visible means of support.” While being transported from La Grange to Whitewater’s City Hall, this “Wildman” wriggled free, leading officers on a sidewalk chase that passed in front of what is now Second Salem Brewing Company.
IPA – Black / Cascadian Dark Ale
Full Sleeve is our take on an American Black IPA, a hybrid style with IPA-level hops and a distinctive toasty dark malt character. As promised, Full Sleeve’s pungent citrus and herbal hop aromas rival that of most IPAs, while its big roasted malt flavors push back with complex flavor and texture. This is a beast.