There’s something eerily magnetic about an abandoned place. Questions begging to be asked about what the destination used to be like in its prime, and what led to its current dismal state. Scattered throughout Michigan are creepy and fascinating abandoned places, providing a look into the mitten’s varied past. Most of these destinations are now privately owned though, so stick to the edges of the properties if you want to visit, or just read about these nine spooky and historic places below!
The United Artists Theatre Building, Detroit
The United Artists Theatre Building in downtown Detroit is a must-see if you love ruins. C. Howard Crane built the theatre in 1928 and showcased a style of renaissance revival architecture. The theatre played films until the mid-70s, and the building closed in 1984. The huge arches and decorative design make for a truly spectacular and unsettling feeling for anyone inside this gargantuan structure.
Packard Automotive Plant, Detroit
Touted as the largest abandoned industrial complex in the entire world, the Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit took eight years to build and boasted 3,500,000 square feet. A once-booming factory, it employed thousands of Michigan workers, but Packard could not compete with the “Big Three” car companies and shut its doors in the 1950s. Sitting mostly vacant for more than 50 years, the plant houses vagrants and graffiti. A private investor bought the land with promises to revitalize the space, but no progress is being made in that direction. You should head to this destination if you want to see a large-scale vacancy.
Belle Isle Zoo, Detroit
Open for 107 years before closing its doors in 2002 (a quite unpopular decision by mayor and current federal inmate Kwame Kilpatrick), the Belle Isle Zoo sits as an overgrown reminder of the past off the shores of Detroit. The Detroit Zoo became the premier destination in the area and Belle Isle converted its attraction into a children’s zoo. It featured many exotic animals like polar bears and kangaroos, tall boardwalks, and several buildings and structures. Now the zoo reminds one of jungle ruins, with foreign plants put into the exhibits long ago overtaking the landscape and choking the remnants of the buildings. It’s a truly wild place for explorers to venture to when on Belle Isle.
Prehistoric Forest Amusement Park, Onsted
Park owners built the Prehistoric Forest in the 1960s as a whimsical wonderland for families to come and enjoy. The park had a safari train that took visitors around the 8-acre property, past a volcano and a waterfall. But the main attraction is its 35 life-sized prehistoric animal sculptures including dinosaur bones, serpents, pterodactyls, a dinosaur egg nest, and cavemen.
The park was shut down in 1999, and vegetation and time have slowly eaten away at the once-vibrant attractions. Sculptures have fallen down, cracked and crumbled, and now live among the thick leaves and ivy, for a very eery effect. Unfortunately, the park is now privately owned and trespassing is strictly enforced, however you can still see many of the figures from the parking lot. Many agree it’s still worthwhile to swing by if you’re interested in Michigan ruins.
Holy Family Orphanage, Marquette
French Catholic nuns ran the Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette and after its completion in 1915. As a response to other overflowing orphanages in the area, citizens built the huge structure that housed 200 children, classrooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry and kitchen facilities, and a large chapel. The building allegedly has a sinister past and closed after 50 years, and it is now supposedly a hotspot for paranormal activity.
The nuns in charge enforced a strict Catholic regime at the orphanage, even though most residents were not catholic. This fact, along with strange figures sighted in the halls and chapel, makes this a go-to building for ghost hunters, and is also on our Most Haunted Places in Michigan list!
Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital, Northville
A 20-building asylum, Michiganders built the Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital in 1952 and only recently shut the site for good in 2003. The abandoned steam tunnels beneath the facilities are the biggest draw for ruin-seekers. The tunnels were used for transporting patients during times of unfavorable weather. You cannot visit these tunnels, and it is strictly enforced by the local law enforcement. But, those who have managed to get inside report feelings of being touched and breathed on by unknown sources. The only features on this property now are graffiti walls, vacant rooms that only lock from the outside, and a feeling of being watched.
The town of Fayette in the Upper Peninsula was home to nearly 500 residents, many immigrants, who lived in the town that existed for the iron boom. Once the iron dried up, Fayette became a ghost town and has sat for 150 years. Thankfully, the state of Michigan acquired the land and Fayette is now a state park along Lake Michigan’s limestone-bluffed shores. The well-preserved buildings provide a glimpse into the UP’s past. The park has nineteen structures including various public buildings, residences of Fayette’s people, and the stabilized ruins of the furnace complex.
Keystone Bridge, Ramsay
The Keystone Bridge is one of Michigan’s largest stone arch bridges, dating back to 1891. The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad built the bridge for its rail line in Ramsay, Michigan. It saw impressive cargos of iron ore leaving the area during its time in use. At 57 feet tall, the bridge’s impressive stonework and its ability to stand years of disrepair are astounding. Vegetation gobbled up the bridge so you can’t cross it, but you can view it from a nearby park.
Located near Grayling, Pere Cheney was once a bustling nineteenth-century sawmill village. Diseases like diphtheria and cholera ravaged the town and the population dwindled to double-digits before the town was eventually abandoned after 1912. Legend has it that nothing but a strange moss grows in the village, and the cemetery, one of the very few remaining landmarks, may even hold the bones of a witch. This ghost town feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, so be ready to feel spooked.
So have you explored any of these eerie destinations? Did we miss any? Tell us about your favorite abandoned places in Michigan in the comments!