Celebrate the spooky season with these haunted attractions.
MICHIGAN—Do you believe in ghosts? Michigan stands out as one of the most haunted states, especially after adjusting for population. Michigan ranks #4 in the United States for most hauntings, according to data from ghostsofamerica.com.
Michigan’s history is packed with unique stories of family legacies kept within summer homes, lonely lighthouse keepers, and a messy murder or two. These historical tales have doggedly kept us wondering, what happens on the other side when a Michigander has unfinished business?
We’ve compiled a list of 12 hauntings in public areas to plan out your next spooky road trip—if you dare.
Tourists and “fudgies” are reliable visitors to Mackinac Island every year. The noted resort town without cars maintains a historical, timeless quality. There’s also the fact that basically the whole island was built over Native American burial sites. The unchanging island is almost ideally suited for ghosts as we know them—so it makes perfect sense that Mackinac Island is infamous for its paranormal activity and hauntings.
Mackinac Island was originally inhabited by the Anishinaabe indigenous peoples. The island was considered a sacred place as the home of Gitche Manitou, or “Great Spirit,” and multiple tribal chiefs were buried there. The Straits of Mackinac, the waterways surrounding the island, became important to the French fur trade in the 17th century. The British took control of the Straits after the French and Indian War, and began building Fort Mackinac in 1780 to protect the land from invasion by French-Canadians and native tribes.
The fort changed hands to the United States’ control in 1783, but the British captured it once again in the War of 1812, where the Fort Mackinac siege served as the first battle. The British built present-day Fort Holmes following the Fort Mackinac capture. The United States fought to recapture the island, but did not succeed until 1815. At this time, Mackinac Island was a hub for fur trade and the fishing industry. The island became a tourist destination after the Civil War, and the State of Michigan acquired the island after the federal government left in 1895. Mackinac Island was the United States’ second national park and Michigan’s first state park. Automobiles were banned in 1898 due to the engines startling horses, and that ban still exists today.
Over its years as a resort town, Mackinac Island has accumulated many ghost stories over its most iconic locations. Todd Clements, the author of Haunts of Mackinac, says the island is one of the most haunted locations in the world. Here are just a few stories.
The Grand Hotel is a historic resort constructed in 1887 over the site of a former cemetery. Hundreds of skeletal remains disturbed during construction were simply reburied in unmarked graves by the construction crew. These disturbed graves may be at least partially to blame for the Grand Hotel’s many ghost sightings. Ghostly apparitions seen at the Grand Hotel are usually described wearing clothing from the 1700s and 1800s. The most concerning is a potentially evil entity that appears as a black mass with glowing red eyes. It may select specific guests or employees to torment. Employees working at night often report feeling watched by an unseen presence. One story involves a maintenance man who encountered the entity in the hotel’s theater. The entity rushed the man, knocking him over, and the man refused to return. Other spirits may not be so malicious. A young girl named Rebecca is believed to haunt the 4th floor, and she may have died in the hotel. A woman in black walking a large white dog has been witnessed on the porch. A gentleman in a top hat who sometimes smokes cigars has been seen at the hotel’s piano bar. Employees have even reported ghosts crawling into bed with them in the employee housing.
The Mission Point Resort had previously served as a conference center for the religious organization The Moral Re-Armament, and also operated as Mackinac College in two separate brief iterations in the 1960s and 1970s. The resort is currently one of the most active sites for paranormal activity. The Mission Point Resort’s pet ghost is called “Harvey,” believed to be a student from the short-lived Mackinac College. The Upper Peninsula Paranormal Research Society claims Harvey’s real name is Craig. Harvey was supposedly found dead on the island in 1967. The tale indicates a female student jilted Harvey, either through breaking off a romantic relationship, rejecting a marriage proposal, or simply admitting she didn’t have feelings for him. In a fit of lovelorn despair, Harvey committed suicide behind the resort. His body remained unfound for six months. Some versions of the story indicate he was found with two gunshot wounds and no weapon at the scene, as possible murder clues. Whatever the case, Harvey is known to touch and pinch female visitors. His haunts include the Mission Point Theatre and Room 2345 of the Straits Lodge, his old dorm room. The theatre also includes a female child spirit called Lucy, who is sometimes seen in other parts of the island.
Fort Mackinac was a British fort constructed in 1782. The fort originally oversaw the Straits of Mackinac and controlled passage between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Employees and visitors alike have reported a number of apparitions and paranormal phenomena. Ghostly figures of British and American soldiers from the War of 1812 may haunt the fort. Spectral children who died of typhoid fever have been both seen and heard, crying in despair and pain after dark. Furniture has been witnessed to move by itself and the sounds of battle, including musket fire and the shouts of soldiers, have been heard.
Fort Holmes on Mackinac Island was originally constructed for British armies during the War of 1812. It was constructed over a Native American burial site. Many spirits may haunt the fort, including British soldiers with Colonial-era military uniforms, and former Ojibwe people buried at the site. Visitors have attested to witnessing soldiers in conversation, who vanish after being perceived.
Felt Mansion (Holland)
6597 138th Ave., Holland, MI 49423
Have you heard of the Saugatuck Melon Heads? The area around the Dorr E. Felt Mansion in the Allegan Forest is connected to this famous urban legend, as well as other paranormal activity.
For over 70 years, Michiganders from the Allegan County area have told stories of the Melon Heads, sometimes called Wobbleheads. These humanoids are said to be feral humans with hydrocephalus, a condition where excess brain fluid causes abnormal head size and swelling. According to urban legend, the Melon Heads lived at Junction Insane Asylum near the Felt Mansion. A doctor or scientist conducted inhumane experiments on them until they revolted, murdered their captor, and escaped into the woods. The Felt Mansion is sometimes indicated as one of their hiding spots, though the Melon Heads are also said to live in underground tunnels or a system of caves. The tale often warns hapless travelers to these locations to be wary of the leering red eyes of the Melon Heads, who like to jump out and attack unsuspecting people.
The Allegan County Historical Society is adamant that no asylum ever existed in the area. The story is also remarkably similar to another story originating from near Cleveland, Ohio. The Ohio legend includes a name for the captor, Dr. Crow, which may have been conflated into the Saugatuck version of the tale. Yet, plenty of Michiganders swear that they’re real, with eyewitness stories of unexplained things experienced in the Allegan Forest. Even if the story is just a story, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing spooky going on at the Felt Mansion.
The Felt Mansion was originally built as a summer home in 1928 by self-made millionaire Dorr Felt as a gift for his wife, Agnes. Comprising three floors, 25 rooms, and three acres of land, the Felt Mansion was built to impress. The Felts didn’t have much time to enjoy the property, however, as Agnes passed away a mere six weeks after the family’s move-in. Dorr joined her in death less than two years later, leaving the mansion in the hands of their four daughters. In 1949, the Felts sold the property.
The Saint Augustine Seminary, a Catholic prep school for men, was housed in the mansion until the late 1970s. The seminary built an additional school building nearby in the 1960s, though the Felt Mansion was still used by faculty and staff. The brainy students at the seminary may very well have served as the origin for the so-called “Melon Heads.” The State of Michigan purchased the property to use as a prison and for the State Police. The seminary building was converted into the Saugatuck Dunes Correctional Facility. This service continued until Laketown Township purchased the land in the 1990s for public use.
The Felt Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places and currently serves as a rental venue for weddings and other events. But it’s possible Dorr and Agnes Felt never left their home. Employees have reported finding furniture and other objects moved or rearranged with no explanation. There have also been reports of shadow figures and ghostly apparitions. Doors and windows open and close on their own. Visitors have claimed to feel a strange presence, or otherwise being watched. The Felt Estate encourages the mansion’s paranormal history with their Hauntings and History Nights events, where visitors are welcome to bring their own equipment to conduct paranormal investigations during a special after-dark candle-lit tour.
Visit the official Felt Mansion website for more information, including seasonal hours.
Masonic Temple (Detroit)
500 Temple St., Detroit, MI 48201
Detroit’s Masonic Temple has quite a reputation. It is a venue for a variety of performing arts and events, including Detroit’s famous annual Halloween masquerade party, Theatre Bizarre. Singer-songwriter and Detroit native Jack White, formerly of The White Stripes, famously paid $142,000 to save the venue from foreclosure in 2013. And it frequently tops the charts as one of the most haunted locations in Michigan.
The Detroit Masonic Temple is currently the largest masonic temple in the world. Masonic temples in general have been used as meeting places for a Masonic Lodge, which is a local organization of freemasons. George D. Mason designed the building and construction was finalized in 1920. The ornate building is constructed in the neo-gothic architectural style, which was a rare choice among Masonic buildings but a deliberate choice by George D. Mason. The building is known for its many secret passageways, hidden staircases, and concealed compartments.
Multiple sources misattributed George D. Mason’s death to suicide. Urban legends have indicated that Mason had a spiral of misfortune starting with bankruptcy, then leading to divorce, depression, and, finally, jumping to his death from the roof of the very building he designed. In actuality, Mason died at his home in 1948, at the ripe old age of 91 after an architectural career spanning over 60 years.
Visitors, though, have claimed to see George D. Mason’s ghost at the Masonic Temple.
There have been many accounts of paranormal activity at the Masonic Temple, including a general sense of unease or feeling “watched,” doors and windows being slammed shut, feeling cold spots, seeing moving shadows, and hearing disembodied voices. In addition to George D. Mason, other male apparitions have been seen—fitting the building’s history as the home for traditionally male organizations.
Visit the official website of Detroit’s Masonic Temple for more information.
South Manitou Island
Glen Arbor Township, Leelanau County
South Manitou Island, an island part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, was rated the most haunted place in Michigan according to Thrillist. With over 8 square miles of land, South Manitou is more than twice the size of Mackinac Island, without any of the development. The island can be reached via ferry from nearby Leland, and there’s certainly a lot about this island to give it either a peaceful or creepy feeling, depending on the visitor.
The island overlooks the Manitou Passage, a seven-mile-wide passage between South Manitou Island and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. The Manitou Passage was a shortcut from the Straits of Mackinac and Chicago for old steamships in the 19th century—and it was notoriously known as the most dangerous passage on the Great Lakes. At least 50 shipwrecks have their final resting places at the bottom of the passage. Some island residents have claimed to hear ghostly wails on stormy nights, akin to drowning people on a sinking ship. For the victims that washed ashore, their bodies were buried in the Crescent Bay Cemetery on the island.
One noteworthy ghost believed to call the island home is Ronald “Ronnie” Riker. Ronnie, his parents, and his two older brothers were some of the last permanent residents of South Manitou Island. In 1967, at the age of sixteen, Ronnie Riker was exploring the half-sunken shipwreck of the Fransisco Morazon with friends when he tragically drowned and died. Ronnie was buried in the island cemetery. Since then, stories have been told of visitors seeing Ronnie all over the island. The island features abundant forests of cedar trees; hikers and campers have reported hearing disembodied voices and ghostly whispers among the trees.
Many of the ships cutting through the Manitou Passage carried European immigrants bound for Chicago. Between 1832 and 1866, the United States dealt with three waves of cholera, an infection of the intestines. This infectious disease was anathema to a crowded ship. Legends claim multiple sailing vessels had no choice but to dock at South Manitou Island to bury their dead. The disturbing part of the tale is that this also included the sick that were still alive. Passengers stricken with cholera were thrown into mass graves with the deceased and buried alive. The spirits of those buried alive can supposedly still be heard at midnight on the island. Folklore also claims that on the anniversaries of their death, the victims rise and walk the island.
Michigan State Capitol (Lansing)
100 N Capitol Ave., Lansing, MI 48933
There might be more than politicians haunting you at the Michigan State Capitol building. Since its completion in 1879, the Michigan State Capitol building has served as the seat of Michigan’s legislative branch, as well as the host to all kinds of unexplained activity.
The Michigan State Capitol building has 139 rooms over three floors and a basement. Its architect was Elijah E. Meyers, the only architect to design the capitol buildings of three U.S. states; he later designed the capitol buildings for Texas and Colorado. The Michigan State Capitol building was a trendsetter in post-Civil War architecture, inspiring a national trend for fireproof buildings.
Over the nearly 150 years of the building’s use, at least four accidental deaths have been recorded. The first was an adolescent page who tried to jump between staircase rails, missed, and had a fatal fall to two floors below. Some versions of the story indicate that it was an intentional, suicidal fall. Two workers died at undisclosed times. A roofer fell due to a misstep during a restoration, and an elevator maintenance crew member was accidentally electrocuted. During the 1989-1992 restoration, a painter working on the rotunda fell when his boom lift broke.
The most recent death, the painter, has been identified as one ghostly apparition that wanders the rotunda’s walkways. This is due to his distinctive painting outfit. Cold spots, drops in temperature, and cold winds are felt in other areas of the building. Other activity has been reported, including disembodied voices, footsteps, and witnessing objects moving on their own. This activity may or may not be related to the other three deaths. Another speculation is that the paranormal activity is somehow related to the Civil War artifacts in the building.
The Whitney (Detroit)
4421 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
Among haunted restaurants in Michigan, The Whitney in Detroit’s Midtown tops the charts. This historic mansion and fine dining restaurant is so haunted that the restaurant named its third-floor bar the “Ghostbar.” The TAPS crew from Syfy’s “Ghost Hunters” even visited the location in 2016.
The David Whitney House was a Romanesque Revival mansion built in 1894 by David Whitney Jr., a lumber baron. At one time, Whitney was the most wealthy citizen in Detroit. Architect Gordon W. Lloyd designed the mansion for Whitney and his family. The mansion cost $400,000 to build, which by today’s standards is estimated to equal almost $12 million. The mansion was lavish, with 21,000 square feet split among 52 rooms. The Tiffany glass windows are estimated to be worth more than the house itself. The house was also the first home in Detroit to include a functional elevator. The extravagance of the mansion was supposedly intended to appease Whitney’s wife. However, Whitney’s wife Flora died before the mansion was completed, and Whitney married Flora’s sister, Sara. Thomas Edison, who counted Michigan as his boyhood home, was reportedly a friend of Whitney and installed electrics in the home.
David Whitney died in the home in 1900. His wife, Sara, also died in the mansion in 1917. After Sara’s death, the David Whitney House was occupied by several groups in the medical field. The Visiting Nurse Association had its offices in the carriage house in 1929. In 1932, the Wayne County Medical Society moved into the residence. The family formally gave the home to the Society in 1941. The Medical Society reportedly turned at least part of the mansion into a hospice for tuberculosis patients. The Medical Society moved out in 1956; the Visiting Nurse Association purchased the building in 1957. The mansion was maintained by nurses until 1979, when the entrepreneur Richard Kughn purchased the building and converted it into a restaurant. The Whitney restaurant opened in 1986.
Employees and visitors alike have reported plenty of paranormal activity over the years. Unexplained footsteps and disembodied voices have been heard. Glasses falling off the bar and drawers popping open have been observed. Mysterious and unexplained piano music has been heard. Various apparitions have been reported, including David Whitney and Flora Whitney. An older man that may or may not be Whitney has been observed looking out the second-floor window. When a staff member asked the man to leave, the man vanished into the floor. Other spirits are speculated to be tuberculosis patients and even nurses.
The elevator is one of the most haunted attractions. Staff members frequently report seeing the elevator traveling between floors with no one riding inside. This phenomenon has even been caught on security cameras.
The third floor, which now includes the Ghostbar, originally held rooms for guests and servants, as well as the Whitney family’s art collection. Bartenders and patrons have reported seeing shadow figures and even full apparitions. Female guests have reportedly had entire conversations with bathroom attendants on the third floor, only to later discover the Whitney does not employ bathroom attendants.
The carriage house, today used mostly for storage, has a fair share of unusual activity. A tea set is arranged on a table called “Grace’s Table” after Whitney’s oldest daughter. Originating from when the Visiting Nurse Association occupied the building, living folks learned quickly not to disturb the placement of the tea set, lest Grace’s spirit become disturbed.
The Whitney hosts a variety of events incorporating the building’s supernatural heritage, including a Paranormal Dinner Tour, Late Night Paranormal Tour, and Annual Halloween Dinner Adventure. Visit The Whitney’s official website for more details. Also, check out The Whitney’s virtual tour.
The Grill House (Allegan)
1071 32nd St., Allegan, MI 49010
About halfway between Holland and Kalamazoo is a steakhouse where diners cook their own steaks. The “grill-your-own” restaurant has a 30 person grill where the restaurant’s Grill Masters offer cooking and seasoning suggestions as diners cook their cut of meat to their liking. Oh, and there just so happens to be a plucky poltergeist that loves pouring whiskey for himself.
The building in Allegan currently housing The Grill House was formerly Hubbard House, which was built in 1836 as a stagecoach stop. It soon became a company headquarters and boarding house for lumberjacks. The building actually predates the town around it. Michigan’s logging industry was kicking off in those days, so the Hubbard House was often visited by transient lumberjacks and local sawmill workers. The building was named after its builder, Samuel Hubbard, a Massachusetts Supreme Court justice. By the 1970s, the building had been turned into a restaurant, and the current owners, the Wagners, opened The Grill House in 1999.
In 1847, a lumberjack was killed at the Hubbard House in a barroom knife fight. Since lumberjacks were transient, the death was not investigated. The deceased lumberjack was buried on the property in an unmarked grave. The knife fight victim, lovingly named Jack, is believed to be the poltergeist at The Grill House.
When he appears, Jack is just over 6 feet tall with dark hair, a white shirt, and dark pants. He is often heard in the front dining room, walking on the wooden floors. He has been known to touch people, turn on or dim lights, change radio stations, move chairs, rattle dishes, turn on water faucets, and open and close doors. Rarely, Jack pours himself a single shot of whiskey at the Rock Bottom bar, his favorite drink.
The Grill House has been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Steak Paradise” and Destination America’s “United States of Food.” For more information, visit the Grill House’s official website.
Doherty Hotel (Clare)
604 N McEwan St., Clare, MI 48617
When looking at the small town of Clare, a rural town of 3,000 just north of Mount Pleasant, gang activity and bootlegging are not the first things to come to mind. The family-owned Doherty Hotel, though, became infamous for illicit activity when it opened in 1924. During Prohibition, the Doherty Hotel operated as a speakeasy, complete with backroom gambling, adult entertainment, and clientele from the Purple Gang. The Jewish mobsters are even connected to a famous murder that occurred here.
In the 1930s, right off the heels of the Great Depression, Michigan experienced an oil boom. Oil discoveries in Mount Pleasant and other cities made Michigan produce the greatest amount of oil in the Midwest in 1935, when the United States was the world’s largest producer of oil. However, this oil boom proved to be the demise of a lawyer eating in the Doherty Hotel’s taproom.
In the 1930s, Isaiah Leebove was an attorney who purchased 45 acres of property in the Clare area after fleeing from New York due to trouble with the law. Leebove had some experience with the oil industry and became interested in drilling projects in Michigan. Isaiah Leebove became a business partner with Sam Garfield, also known as “Uncle Sammy,” a Purple Gang lieutenant and unofficial godfather of Clare. Carl “Jack” Livingston was a seasoned oil man that also entered the partnership which became Mammoth Oil. Mammoth Oil would eventually become the largest independent oil producer east of the Mississippi River.
A disagreement arose when Jack Livingston wanted Isaiah Leebove to sell his uninhabited property to Mammoth Oil for drilling. Leebove refused, and Livingston became paranoid that Garfield’s connections to the Purple Gang meant Leebove would hire a hitman to murder Livingston. Just after 10 p.m. on a Saturday night in May 1938, Leebove was sitting in the Doherty Hotel lounge at a booth with his attorney, Byron Gellar. Livingston shot Leebove, killing him instantly, and wounded Gellar. Livingston was swiftly arrested, speaking calmly and claiming no regret for his actions. At trial, Livingston was acquitted on a plea of temporary insanity.
Isaiah Leebove may still be looking for justice in the afterlife, as his ghost is believed to be one of the spirits haunting the hotel. The Doherty family’s matriarch, Helen Doherty, is also believed to be a resident spirit. Dark apparitions and shadow figures have been spotted on all floors of the Doherty Hotel. Bedroom doors sometimes open and close by themselves, and guests may hear loud knocking with no one at the door. The scent of perfume, attributed to Helen Doherty, can sometimes be detected.
The Doherty Hotel has 157 guest rooms available, as well as an authentic Irish tavern. Golf packages are available that include admission to 13 golf courses in the area. For more information and availability, consult the Doherty Hotel’s official website.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and Mission Table (Traverse City)
13512 Peninsula Dr., Traverse City, Michigan, 49686
Today, the Bowers Harbor Inn building hosts the Traverse City location for local Michigan brewery chain, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. Mission Table, an upscale restaurant, also shares the building. However, if you visit, you might just see something that you can’t blame on Jolly Pumpkin’s trademark ales.
Despite the name, the Bowers Harbor Inn was never any sort of lodging facility. The building on the Old Mission Peninsula reportedly started in the 1860s as a farm. By 1920, Charles Stickney purchased the property with his wife, Jennie Stickney. Charles Stickney had become wealthy from the steel and lumber industries. The Stickneys harvested the land and continued the farm’s canning business. In 1928, the Stickneys hired Jennie’s nephew, Kenneth B. Worthen, to design the property as a summer home after the original farmhouse was damaged in a fire. The home was developed as a 26-room Storybook style house for the couple. Construction cost $175,000, which by today’s standards would have been more than $2 million.
In her later years, Jennie suffered from diabetes, heart disease, and possible dementia. The Stickneys hired a nurse to live with them during the summers and care for them in their old age. The legend about the building states Jennie Stickney, called Genevieve Stickney in death, was a bitter and jealous woman who hung herself in Bowers Harbor after discovering Charles had an affair with the nurse and left the woman his fortune. While it is unclear if infidelity was involved, Charles did leave their nurse the fortune, but it was out of sheer gratitude and because he had no children. There is no evidence Mrs. Stickney hated the nurse, and she actually died before her husband in March 1947 at their suite in Grand Rapids. Her death certificate was signed as Genevieve, even though she didn’t go by that name in life. Charles Stickney joined her in death shortly after in August of 1949, passing away at Munson Hospital in Traverse City.
The Bowers Harbor Inn started as a restaurant of the same name in 1959. In 1978, the east portion of the structure became The Bowery. The property was renovated in 2006 to become the Jolly Pumpkin and Mission Table, which it remains as today. For almost as long as the building has served as a restaurant, the ghost of Genevieve Stickney is believed to have been haunting the building.
Frequent reports of Genevieve’s ghostly apparition have surfaced. A woman in an evening gown, with her hair drawn back in a bun, has appeared in the background of an upstairs hallway mirror, reflected within windows, and even blurred in the background of photos. Plenty of other odd occurrences have happened to staff and even guests. Tales abound of Mrs. Stickney moving dishware, lighting candles, manipulating the lights and music, making photos and pans fall, and even making an out-of-service grandfather clock chime. Multiple accounts exist of people hearing disembodied sounds, especially the mechanical sounds of chains.
Today, the Jolly Pumpkin staff have had “plenty of odd feels and electric anomalies” according to the general manager. Some people are skeptical that this is Jennie “Genevieve” Stickney, though, and believe the hauntings are attributed to the Hartson family, the farm family who owned the property before the Stickneys. There were actually deaths on-site via this family.
The Mitten Brewing Company (Grand Rapids)
527 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Grand Rapids, otherwise known as Beer City, USA, definitely has plenty of microbreweries. But the Mitten Brewing Company, a brewery started recently in 2012, might have more Victorian-era ghosts than just the building.
The baseball-themed brewery with a passion for the Detroit Tigers is located in the historic Engine House No. 9 building. Built on the west side of Grand Rapids in 1890, the firehouse operated until 1966 when it was decommissioned. Before being renovated into a brewery, it served as an office building and an apartment complex.
Mitten Brewing Company co-owners and childhood friends Max Trierweiler and Chris Andrus restored the old firehouse building and adapted it for the brewery. Most of the remodeling was accomplished by the owners themselves through generous use of YouTube tutorials. However, after finishing the renovations, the co-owners began to notice peculiar activity.
One of the most bizarre occurrences was the appearance of a child’s footprints on a freshly-mopped floor that appeared overnight just two weeks after the brewery opened. The footprints started in the middle of the room and stopped at a wall. The co-owners also experienced other unexplained activity, such as motion lights being set off in empty rooms, a second-floor speaker that plays mysterious static, voices, and music even when turned off, and even shadowy figures wandering through the building. The Grand Rapids Ghost Hunters witnessed an apparition of a young girl during a paranormal investigation.
The owners keep a “ghost journal” behind the bar which records the paranormal activity that’s happened on site.
For more information, visit The Mitten Brewing Company’s website.
Gandy Dancer (Ann Arbor)
401 Depot St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Fine dining restaurants are plentiful in Ann Arbor, the hometown of the University of Michigan. This one, though, definitely stands out from the rest. With its Romanesque building using rock-faced masonry on a street of brick pavers on the edge of Kerrytown, the Gandy Dancer has an obvious timeless quality about it. The Gandy Dancer’s building actually dates back to a turn-of-the-century rail station, and there might be a resident ghost or two that moved in over the last century.
In 1886, the Michigan Central Railroad Depot was built in Ann Arbor. It was the first commission by Detroit architectural firm Spier & Rohns, who built many other train stations and churches, as well as Belle Isle’s now-demolished skating pavilion. The Michigan Central Railroad (MCR) was originally built to provide freight service between Detroit and Chicago, but passenger trains eventually dominated the tracks between the two cities. Rail travel was essential for a city like Ann Arbor to grow. The depot patronized many important visitors, including rallies for John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The building was sold in 1969, just two years before the start of Amtrak. The Gandy Dancer opened in December 1970. The new train station, which still stands today, was built on land just down the street, purchased by the Michigan Department of Transportation in 1975.
The depot building has a piece of dark history that may account for its paranormal activity. Reportedly, during World War I, the Ann Arbor depot held deceased bodies for families to claim. Those bodies that weren’t claimed were kept in the depot’s basement. Additionally, Chuck Muer, the restaurateur that bought the property and converted it into the Gandy Dancer, disappeared under grim circumstances. Muer, his wife, and a couple they were traveling with were all reported lost at sea in 1993 while traveling over the Atlantic Ocean to Florida from the Bahamas.
Employees have reported lights being turned upside down and glass that flies off shelves. Some visitors have seen a “well-dressed” man’s apparition in the hallways. Could this be Chuck Muer? A gentleman from World War I whose body went unclaimed? Or someone else?
The Gandy Dancer is currently owned by Landry’s Inc. For more information, visit the Gandy Dancer official website.
Big Bay Point Lighthouse (Big Bay)
4674 Co Rd. KCB, Big Bay, MI 49808
With 129 lighthouses in Michigan, plenty are bound to be haunted. The Big Bay Point Lighthouse, though, is the only operational lighthouse with a bed and breakfast. A night’s stay might have you face-to-face with the deceased lightkeeper.
The lighthouse is located about 20 miles north of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula and overlooks Lake Superior. It was built in 1897 as a duplex for both the lighthouse keeper and its assistant keeper. The light was automated by 1941. The lighthouse and surrounding area were leased to the US Army in the 1950s. A man named John Pick purchased the property in 1961 to attempt to turn it into a summer home, but the renovations took too long. Dan Hitchens purchased the property in 1979 and made additional renovations to turn it into a bed and breakfast. Hitchens sold it to an investment group, and the bed and breakfast finally opened in 1986.
The first keeper of the lighthouse was William Prior, and the assistant lightkeeper was William’s son, George Edward Prior. George took the oath in January of 1900. Shortly after, in April 1901, George had a compound fracture of his femur after falling down the steep and narrow lighthouse steps. George stayed at a hospital in Marquette to attempt to heal; tragically, he passed away in the summer from a blood borne bacterial infection related to his injury.
William was devastated by the loss of his son and fell into a deep depression. He took a handgun and some strychnine, a poison, into the woods south of the lighthouse. William Prior never returned, and although a search was performed, he remained missing. He remained missing until seventeen months later, when a hunter came across a skeleton hanging in a tree a mile and a half away from the lighthouse. The skeleton was identified as William Prior and given a proper burial.
Although as many as five different ghosts have been witnessed by paranormal investigation groups, the most infamous one is believed to be William Prior. The apparition most often seen has red hair, like William Prior. His spirit is often seen in mirrors and seems to enjoy turning on faucets. Guests have awoken in the middle of the night to see a man gazing at them from the end of their beds. Other paranormal activity includes unexplained opening and closing of doors and windows and lights turning on and off. Disembodied footsteps walking across wooden floors and suspicious banging noises are also heard with no explanation.
For more information and availability, visit the Big Bay Lighthouse website.