Haunted hotels, an old prison and a creepy orphanage – Michigan is choc-full of eerie spots for you to visit this Halloween. Looking for the spookiest sights? Here are some of the most haunted places in Michigan.
Scary places to visit in Michigan
1. Terrace Inn and 1911 Restaurant, Petoskey
This Victorian inn, located north of the city of Petoskey, has seen so many supernatural sightings that the desk clerk keeps a thick folder documenting them all, called the “Ghost Files”. If you ask nicely, they’ll let you take a read of it too. There are three particularly active ghosts-in-residence today. The Lady in White glides along the hallways and some guest rooms, a man in tweed hangs out on the balcony and a young guy pops up every now and then in the basement. Rumour has it that the inn is also haunted by the spirits of two workers who died when a beam fell on them during construction. Stay in room 211 for the best chance of encountering a spook.
2. The Whitney Restaurant, Detroit
David Whitney, the richest man in Detroit, built this sumptuous manor house in 1894 – and rumour has it he’s stuck around for quite some time. Following renovations in the 1980s, management and staff started reported spooky sightings. There’s now a bar – called the Ghostbar – in the creepiest corner of the restaurant.
Visitors claim to have seen shadowed figures on the second floor and disembodied voices. There are recordings of these creepy incidents too. One woman, while being recorded standing in the hallway on the second floor, reported that the atmosphere suddenly changes and became charged. Later, when they looked at the recording, they could hear a disembodied voice saying “That’s right, I’m still here”. Creepy.
3. Michigan’s First State Prison, Jackson
A haunted prison is going to be full of exactly the type of ghosts you don’t want to see. Ghost criminals who were neglected, abused and tortured are going to have a few vendettas. We’re waging you won’t find Casper the Friendly Ghost anywhere near here. Established in 1838, Michigan’s First State Prison closed in 1934 and later became ‘Armory Arts Village’, a resident and studio for local artists. Residents claim to have felt the presence of an unknown woman, the smell of gardenia and the faint sound of riots, possibly harking back to an eight-day riot that saw two maximum-security prisoners take nine guards hostage.
4. Michigan Bell Telephone Building, Grand Rapids
There’s a gruesome story behind this elegant facade. In 1910, a railway worker called Warren Randall who had lost his leg in a train accident murdered his wife, then slit his throat with a razor. The Michigan Bell Telegraphone Company bought the plot 14 years later and re-built the building. Ex-workers claimed to regularly hear the voice of a woman begging not to be killed. There are also reports of noises coming from empty rooms and shadows from invisible figures. Today the building offers housing and support to local homeless people.
5. South Manitou Island, Leland
Look beyond its rolling sand dunes, and there’s something sinister about South Manitou Island. Once upon a time, it was a popular docking station for ships en-route to the Great Lakes and Chicago. The story goes that one of those ships was full of cholera-ridden passengers. It stopped at South Manitou, where the sailors buried the victims in a mass grave – and some of them were still alive. If that doesn’t get the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, there’s also a spooky shipwreck just offshore called the SS Francisco Morazan, haunted by a young boy who died exploring here.
6. The Holly Hotel, Holly
According to Norman Guathier, a professor of parapsychology and a world-famous ghostbuster, the Holly Hotel is ‘loaded with spirits’. Built in 1891 to serve travellers along the Flint and Holly Railroad line, the hotel burnt down twice within 65 days. The hotel’s first manager, Mr Hirst, died in the latter and is said to roam around the hotel today, dressed in a frock coat and a top hat and puffin a cigar. Guests have also reported disembodied voices, moving objects, a dog that brushes against people’s legs and phantom barking. The hotel website has a whole section dedicated to their paranormal residents if you want to find out more.
7. Old City Orphanage, Marquette
Nothing gives us the heebie-jeebies like ghost children, and the Old City Orphanage is chock full of them. Built in 1915 and run by nuns, the Catholic orphanage closed in the 1960s. Locals say many of the children were physically and mentally abused – and some of their stories sound like they’ve been plucked straight from a horror movie. One story goes that a little girl who played outside in the blizzard caught pneumonia and died. To teach the other children a lesson, the nuns put her body on display for them all to see. If you stroll past the building on a quiet night, they say you can hear the sounds of crying children.