Minneapolis, Minnesota

The gothic city hall in Minneapolis has been rumored to be haunted for many years. The fifth floor of the building is said to harbor the spirit of a man named John Moshik, who was hanged in the building in 1898. ( A complete account of his trial and execution can be found in the book "Murder in Minnesota" by Walter Trenerry) . His trial was held in the Chapel Courtroom and although Moshik pleaded "inherited insanity" for his crimes, he was convicted of murder during a robbery in which he killed his victim. The robbery netted him the sum of $14. The noose was placed around Moshik's neck and his feet and hands were bound securely. He took more than three minutes to die, becoming the last man hanged in Minnesota.

Today, his ghost is reported by many who venture onto the fifth floor of the building at night. He has been spotted and his eerie footsteps heard by everyone from custodians, lawyers and even judges. The Chapel Courtroom soon earned a reputation for being jinxed and haunted and in the 1950's, the floor was remodeled and that particular courtroom was completely removed from the floor plan, being enveloped by several others.

That doesn't stop Moshik's ghost however as cold winds, an apparition of Moshik, odd movements and unexplained shadows are still reported on the fifth floor.

The actual location where Moshik was hanged was rumored to be haunted as well. According to sources who actually worked at the courthouse, since 1978, the fourth and fifth floors have been entirely occupied by the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center. The fifth floor of the building holds three housing area of about 60-70 inmates each, in addition to visiting rooms, kitchen, laundry and staff dining rooms. This floor also has a locked entry to the attic and the towers of the building... the south tower and the clock tower.

In the south tower, at the top of an old iron, spiral staircase, is the location (according to the older deputies) of the abandoned "death row". This area consisted of a number of small cells that hung suspended from the ceiling by iron bars. The cells have since been removed by the iron bars still remain today. It was in this area where John Moshik was held. The gallows were built in the attic next to the death room, above what is now the laundry and staff dining room.

Some of the deputies say that on a few occasions, inmates on the fifth floor used to complain about a man looking in the window of their common room in the middle of the night. The man was seen wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. The deputies listened to the complaints but when they tried to investigate, they could see nothing over the video monitors. Could this man have been the ghost of John Moshik? 

The Minneapolis City Hall covers the square block that is surrounded by South 4th and 5th Streets and South 3rd and 4th Avenues in downtown Minneapolis.

Copyright 2000 by Troy Taylor

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Special thanks to "David" for additional information about this location!