A dirt path leads to a cemetery, covered with fallen branches and hung with cobwebs; a strange fog closes in while bats screech overhead; the howls of a black cat echo through the night as the sun sets on the spooky setting. With Halloween approaching, Michiganders are searching for places to scare themselves silly, so here is our list of the most haunted places in Michigan – perfect for a haunted Michigan road trip.
Haunted Places in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Old City Orphanage in Marquette
Formerly known as the Holy Cross Orphanage, the Old City Orphanage stands against the Marquette hills as a menacing reminder of the city’s past. Built in 1915 and abandoned in the mid-sixties, the Catholic orphanage remains a location of lengthy narrative and legend. According to occupants of the orphanage, the nuns were known to physically and mentally abuse the children and were fierce in their punishments. One account recalls a little girl playing outside during a blizzard and subsequently catching pneumonia. She died several days later. As a testament to her foolishness and a warning to the other children, the nuns put her body on display for all to view. The crying of children is said to be heard if passing the building on a quiet night.
The Paulding Light
Paulding, Michigan, is a small town in the Upper Peninsula known for a mysterious light display that occurs along a stretch of Highway 45. Although numerous paranormal investigators and even the Ripley’s Believe It or Not team have examined the area, no explanations for the phenomenon have ever been found. Locals say the small spherical lights of white, red, and green are the ghosts of a railroad worker who died while trying to switch the tracks, or of a Native American man dancing along the power lines.
Thought to be the most haunted place in Michigan, Mackinac Island has tours devoted to its most ghost-ridden locales. From the Grand Hotel (built upon the first military post’s cemetery) to Fort Mackinac (explored by SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters) to Mission Point (haunted by the ghost of a young man who shot himself after a heartbreak), Mackinac Island is a paranormal investigator’s dream destination. The occasionally bloody history and relative isolation of the island lend to its spooky atmosphere each fall.
This theatre originally opened as an Opera House in 1900 before making a gradual transition to plays and films. It has two balconies that are fairly large and the theatre as a whole holds about 700 people. The original ghost story begins with an actress named Madame Helena Modjeska who performed at this venue during her life. Sometime in the 1950s, an actress was on stage and forgot her lines. As the rumor goes, she looked up into one of the balconies and discovered Modjeska up there, mouthing the lines to her. Currently, theatre-goers have said they feel eery presences, sudden gusts of cold air, and hear music that does not seem to come from a source.
Seul Choix Point Lighthouse
In 1895, the Seul Choix Lighthouse was dubbed by French fur traders as the “only choice” for a stopping point on the route through Lake Michigan. Joseph Townsend was the lighthouse keeper for years, and his brother James, a wealthy captain, would often make the journey to visit him. During a particularly dire visit, Captain Townsend fell ill and died in the lighthouse. His body was embalmed and held in the basement for weeks as the family waited for people paying their respects to make the journey to Gulliver. Reports of a lingering smell, footsteps up and down the lighthouse steps, and odd noises have kept visitors coming to the lighthouse for over a century now. Check out their museum from 10 AM to 6 PM seven days a week, or head that way October 25th and 26th, 2014 for the Haunted Lighthouse tour from 7 PM to 10 PM.
Most Haunted Places in Northern Michigan
The Traverse City State Hospital
Constructed in 1885 and closed over 100 years later, the Traverse City State Hospital is perhaps the eeriest place in Grand Traverse County. Originally an asylum for the mentally unstable, during its active years the hospital also housed those afflicted with tuberculosis, typhoid, diphtheria, and polio. Although the Gothic-style buildings have undergone renovations since 2000, a visit to the grounds conjures up the ominous and oppressive feelings of its past. Underground tunnels and caged balconies add to the spooky visual stimuli and, located on the trails behind the buildings, there is said to be a portal to Hell under “The Hippy Tree”. As well as documented paranormal investigations, the State Hospital has several books dedicated to its disturbing history.
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 sometime after 1912 when the Post Office closed. 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. Many visitors hear voices and witness orbs and, perhaps most frighteningly of all, there are reports of sightseers finding hand-prints on cars from children who died in the area.
Old Presque Isle Lighthouse
This lighthouse is perched on Lake Huron and was active for 31 years before a turn of events left it seemingly haunted. There are tales of screams coming from the tower, which are rumored to belong to a keeper’s wife who had been locked up there. The real hauntings come from a different lighthouse keeper, George Parris, and his wife. These two moved into the keeper’s cottage in the 199o’s to run the lighthouse, manage the museum, and give tours. After Parris passed, the permanently disabled light from the lighthouse continues to come on at dusk and turn off at dawn every day. This lighthouse and its grounds are open to the public from mid-May through mid-October.
Bower’s Harbor Inn, Traverse City
Now known as the restaurant Mission Table, this building is famously haunted by a ghost named Genevive. Genevive’s husband was Inn owner JW Stickney, who had an elevator installed at the Inn for his overweight wife. Stickney also hired a nurse to care for Genevive but ended up having an affair with this particular caretaker. When Stickney passed, he left all his financial wealth to the nurse, leaving only the Inn to Genevive. Genevive eventually hung herself in the elevator and continues to haunt the restaurant to this day. Staff members and customers see her in one of the bathrooms and often on the stairs. She also causes disturbances by slamming doors, turning lights on or off, and making pans fall. It is also rumored that she doesn’t take kindly to visiting nurses in the restaurant, so beware.
West Michigan’s Most Haunted Places
Michigan Bell Telephone Co. in Grand Rapids
Shrouded in legend, the Michigan Bell Telephone Company stands on the grounds of what was once a lavish mansion in downtown Grand Rapids. Current employees often experience ghostly encounters due to the grisly history of this particular plot of land. It is said the Randall couple purchased the Judd-White House from its previous owners and hadn’t lived there for long before tragedy struck. Warren Randall, a railroad brakeman, lost his leg while on the job and had it replaced with a wooden prosthetic. This led to feelings of insecurity on Warren’s part, and he soon accused his wife Virginia of having an affair. Their marriage was no longer happy and arguments were often overheard from the street. After noticing a pungent odor emanating from the mansion, workers in the building next door contacted officials to investigate. The two were found dead in the house; Warren had allegedly beaten Virginia to death with his wooden leg before slitting his own throat. The ghosts of the couple argue to this day as witnessed by employees of the company, with some saying that the Randalls are responsible for eerie prank phone calls traced back to the building after hours.
Ada Witch at Findlay Cemetery
In the early 1800s in Ada, Michigan, an adulterous woman was followed by her husband as she went to meet her lover. As the story goes, her husband watched for proof of the cheating before he busted onto the scene to kill his wayward wife. After she was dead, he turned on the lover and they fought until both had fallen. Today, the woman’s ghost has been spotted in Seidman Park, where the murder supposedly occurred, Honey Creek Road, where her body was found, and Findlay Cemetery, where she was buried. As haunt historians have researched the story of the unfortunate woman, however, they have been unable to prove that any such murder occurred or that she is even buried at Findlay. No police report exists to corroborate the triple homicide, nor is there evidence explaining why her ghost is referred to as a witch. Maybe you should decide whose ghost is responsible for the bluish mists, shrieks, weeping, shoulder tapping and footsteps heard around that area. I dare you.
The Ghost of Elias Friske at Hell’s Bridge
When Rockford was first inhabited years ago, the surrounding woods and Rogue River were a source of resources and adventure for the people settling there. When children began going missing in the early 1800s though, the townspeople banded together in the church to split parents up into search parties. Old Elias Friske warned parents of the terrifying demons surrounding the town, and volunteered to stay behind with the remaining children while parents searched for their loved ones. As soon as the parents were out of town, Friske led his charges to the woods along the bank of the Rogue and brutally murdered them in the same place he had killed the others. As he was pitching their bodies off the newly built bridge, horrified parents came to the scene of the crime. Although Elias Friske pled for mercy and insisted it was demons who forced his hand, the townspeople hung him from the bridge that came to be known as Hell’s Bridge, and left his body there until the water wore away the rope holding him. Swimmers today have felt hands grab their ankles, and the devil’s laughter is said to echo on the bridge after dark!
Mid-Michigan’s Most Haunted Places
Bath School Massacre
Although rarely discussed, the mass murder at Bath School in 1927 is in fact the most deadly school massacre to date. Andrew Kehoe, a fifty-five-year-old farmer and school board member, vehemently opposed the upcoming millage that would raise taxes. When the millage passed, Kehoe’s farm was foreclosed upon. May 18th, 1927, Kehoe killed every animal on his farm, murdered his wife, burned his house down, and headed to the school, where he set off 500 pounds of dynamite. The initial blast killed dozens of students and teachers, and as the superintendent waved Kehoe over to help get the children out safely, Kehoe ignited another round when his rifle misfired, killing himself, the superintendent and eight more students. The final death toll was 44 with an additional 58 injured!
It was Richard Fritz’s 8th birthday that day, and he died almost exactly a year later from complications after the bombing. He was buried next to his sister Marjorie, age 10, at the Mt. Hope Cemetery without a headstone. Eighty-seven years later, the community rallied to ensure that all the children had headstones. And every year there are new matchbox cars that appear on every grave. No one has ever seen the cars delivered, but without fail, a friendly ghost has continued to leave tokens of childhood for these souls that passed too soon. Keep your eyes peeled for the arrival of Richard’s toy since he finally has a headstone to rest under.
East Michigan’s Haunted Places
The Bruce Mansion
The Bruce Mansion in Brown City, Michigan, has a long history of owners who have tragically died either in the home or on the property. In one particular case, a man driving accidentally hit someone walking on the property and decided to bury him near the home. The driver of this car later hung himself inside the bell tower. In 1996, Barbara Millsap and her brother Bill Masiak become owners of the mansion. Masiak reported occurrences of doors forcefully opening and closing on their own. In 2009, the Waite family became owners of the home due to foreclosure. This family reports that many previous tenants have not left and often hear children’s voices that do not seem to have a physical source. Tours and ghost hunts used to be allowed at the mansion, however, the current property owners have decided not to continue with such activities.
Haunted Places in Southwest Michigan
Felt Mansion in Saugatuck
Felt Mansion, located on the Mitten’s west coast between Holland and Saugatuck, has worn several masks since its construction in 1928. The mansion was originally a gift to inventor Dorr Felt’s beloved wife Agnes, who died shortly after the Felt family moved in. After they left the home, it was transformed into a seminary, and then a police and drug enforcement agency office. It is presently being restored to its former glory. Homes with such rich history rarely remain quiet: many believe that the spirit of Agnes Felt wanders the house she was never able to enjoy in life. A shadowy figure waltzes around the ballroom frightening the mansion’s tourists, while heavy doors open and close of their own accord. There are even accounts of Agnes reprimanding guests whom she has deemed to be too offensive or crude in her presence.
Henderson Castle in Kalamazoo
Over a century old and supposedly host to a legion of ghosts, Kalamazoo’s Henderson Castle is now a bed and breakfast that caters to the living… and the dead. The ghosts of the home’s original owners Frank and Mary Henderson, as well as those of a Spanish-American War veteran, a little girl, and a dog interact regularly with paranormal teams and guests alike. The apparently amiable spirits have favorite forms of communication, speaking through unplugged radios, tapping unsuspecting visitors on the shoulder, and sometimes appearing in full form, wearing period clothing.
Southwest Michigan Tuberculosis Sanitarium
The once-thriving Tuberculosis Sanitarium now sits abandoned on a hill overlooking Kalamazoo. It was shut down in 1969 and given to the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital until it closed for good in 1990. Locals in the surrounding neighborhoods report hearing screams and tortured cries coming from the abandoned buildings. There are even rumors of distant neighbors seeing figures walking by the broken windows in the daylight. This abandoned building is closed to the public, but walking alongside the fence might be worthwhile to catch a glimpse of an unknown entity.
Southcentral Michigan Haunted Places
The Jewett House, Mason
This home was purchased by the Jewett family in the 1920s where it was converted into a funeral home. When the funeral home closed in 1990, it turned into a rental home for local residents. It is not uncommon for someone to move in, only to move out again very quickly due to the extreme amount of paranormal activity that occurs. Such reports include nightly whistling, footsteps on the second floor, hearing voices that do not belong to anyone, balls moving around without aid, and the smell of cigar smoke can be detected without rationale. So, if you are looking for a home to rent in the Mason area, might I suggest the Jewett House?
Most Haunted Places in Southeast Michigan
The Masonic Temple in Detroit
Built in 1912 by a wealthy gentleman named George D. Mason, the Detroit Masonic Temple has over 1,000 rooms, and several secret staircases, concealed passages, and hidden compartments in the floors. Mr. Mason went slightly overboard when financing the construction of the building, and eventually went bankrupt, whereupon his wife left him. Overwhelmingly depressed about his financial and personal circumstances, Mason jumped to his death from the roof of the temple. Security guards claim to see his ghost to this day, ascending the steps to the roof. The temple, abundant with cold spots, inexplicable shadows, and slamming doors, is known to intimidate visitors with the eerie feeling of being watched…
River Raisin National Battlefield Park in Monroe
The largest and bloodiest encounters fought on Michigan soil, the Battles of River Raisin (also known as the Battles of Frenchtown) were devastating upsets for the United States during the War of 1812. After several days of combat and eventual surrender to the British, American soldiers were lead away by their captors. The maimed soldiers were abandoned, and would later be massacred by Native Americans in a surprise attack. In this deadliest battle of the War of 1812, over half of the total of 1,000 American soldiers lost in the War were killed. Paranormal teams have held investigations at what is now known as the River Raisin National Battlefield Park and have utilized the Singapore Theory which employs the use of time-oriented objects, music, and other triggers to encourage the appearance of ghosts. Figures in doorways, windows, and on the field have been photographed, and supposed sounds of war and cries of agony recorded.
Northville Psychiatric Hospital
Psychiatric hospitals have always been known for their paranormal activity. Nothing is more frightening than knowing thousands of people died unconventional deaths while locked up against their will. The Northville Psychiatric Hospital was built in 1952 and shut down for good in 2003. Being such a large psychiatric hospital with many buildings, this hospital was constructed with many tunnels leading to the various buildings. These tunnels were used for transporting patients during times of unfavorable weather (this is Michigan, you know). These tunnels are unable to be visited, something that is strictly enforced by the local law enforcement. However, those who have managed to get inside report feelings of being touched and breathed on by unknown sources. Mysterious noises such as footsteps and chains clanking have been reported as well.
The Whitney Restaurant
This house was originally constructed in the 1890s as a private residence by David Whitney, Jr. It was restored in 1986 and is now used as a formal dining restaurant. Both Whitney and his wife died in this mansion and are believed to remain behind to haunt it. Tales of table settings being rearranged on their own and of a mysterious, elderly gentleman gazing out windows on the second floor can be attributed to paranormal activity. The elevator is especially active and will often move between floors without anyone in it. The Whitney restaurant is open to the public, so make your reservation to dine in today.
Bone Head’s BBQ
This building in Willis is believed to have been built in the mid-1860s and served many purposes before becoming the Bone Head’s BBQ restaurant that we all know and love: a post office, general store, coach shop, butcher shop, and ice house. The reason why this building in Michigan is haunted is not widely known, but supernatural activity occurs so very often. It is not uncommon for lights to turn on by themselves, long after the restaurant has closed for the day. Many customers see a woman in a white dress on the staircase, and one little girl even saw an extra reflection in the mirror in the bathroom. Phantom footsteps and whispering have been overheard by employees and neighbors have even stated accounts of seeing someone cleaning windows on the third floor. Seeing how this is a public establishment, I highly recommend swinging in for a spooky dinner.
The Eloise Asylum in Westland, Michigan, originally opened in the late 1830s and was then known as the Wayne County Poorhouse, which was home to the mentally ill. There are many reports of inadequate and unsafe treatment of the patients during the time the hospital was open and functioning. Currently, a fair amount of the buildings have been torn down, but a few remain. Workers and trespassers report hearing voices, and rumors of former patients walking the halls have been reported. The playground built for worker’s children and the cemetery that holds over 7,000 patients are considered to be the most haunted areas of all, with many incidents of growls and moans being reported.
Cole Adam’s House
Unfortunately, this haunt is now a private residence on Market St. in Detroit, but this doesn’t take away from its ghoulish history. In the early 1960s, Bill Cole-Adams and family moved into their home, excited to have upgraded into a better home. Bill worked the graveyard shift at the Cadillac plant, and set up a bed in a small room adjacent to the kitchen in order to sleep without interruption during the day. For the first few weeks, the bad smells and noises were shrugged off as parts of the house settling. But, after seeing an apparition of a decomposing woman in a blue dress and fur jacket multiple nights in a row, however, Bill decided to tough it out and sleep in the bedroom he shared with his wife. He blamed his unrest on stress and exhaustion. When his mother-in-law came for the birth of their newest child, they set up a small guest area in the same back room. She reported a rotten stench, consistent bad dreams and wailing noises. Their pets and their children wouldn’t go into the room and a second visitor left terrified after seeing the apparition of the decomposing woman staring at him. During the ghoul’s appearance to the second visitor, the rotting smell was so bad that it permeated the household for a few days. It was then that the Cole-Adams family began a new house search!
Some of these haunted areas are open to the public or tours are available, however, some do state that trespassing is strictly forbidden. Have you been to any of these haunted Michigan areas? What have you seen? Are there any haunted areas near you that we need to know about?
article contributed by Claire Moore, Jennifer Hamilton, and Lyndsey Israel