Michigan’s past is saturated with innovation, victories, mayhem and tragic events — the perfect mixture for creating haunted locations. Here are five of our favorites in Southwest Michigan:
Hopkins House, Kalamazoo
Built in 1896 by famed Michigan architect David S. Hopkins, the Hopkins House, at 704 S. Park St., was a wedding gift to his son, Honorable George P. Hopkins and his bride Ella. The Hopkins families were high-ranking members of the Freemasons, the Knights Templar and the Eastern Star. This large Queen Anne-Victorian is still home to at least three spirits: George Hopkins; his mother, Mary Hopkins; and Asa, the family’s butler. George Hopkins seems content to stay in his master bedroom, where he died in 1933, while Mary has made her presence known in the former servants’ room, where she died in 1905. The neighborhood gets to enjoy the ghost of Asa, an African-American man, who is often seen in his white shirt staring out of the attic windows. The sounds of footsteps throughout the second floor and servants’ stairway are a daily occurrence, as is someone unseen attempting to open doors, sometimes mischievously while you’re in the bathroom. For a donation to the house’s restoration fund, you can spend the night in this haunted abode.
Civic Auditorium, Kalamazoo
Thelma Mertz is the female actress-turned-ghost who haunts the Civic Auditorium. Legend tells of a young actress who jumped to her death at Chenery Auditorium after being passed over for a role. Her spirit followed the Civic Players back to the Civic Auditorium after her death. Thelma is known as a very mischievous spirit who loves to steal props, sometimes as the productions are taking place. Whenever something strange occurs, or another prop disappears, the staff typically says, “Thelma did it.” Several Haunted History of Kalamazoo Tour patrons have testified to their own paranormal experiences at the Civic, a fact that has helped the ghostly legend to be talked about well beyond the city limits of Kalamazoo.
Old Allegan Jail, Allegan
This museum in downtown Allegan was an active jail and sheriff’s residence from 1906 to 1963. Several cell areas have been left intact since the 1960s, giving visitors a glimpse of 20th-century Allegan justice. The rest of the building belongs to the Allegan County Historical Society. There have been many reports of paranormal activity throughout the building, including strange noises, running footsteps, and touches by an unseen entity, as well as the apparition of a woman believed to be the sheriff’s wife still cooking for the inmates. The feeling of being watched is even more intense in the solitary confinement area, nicknamed the “hot box.” The museum is free of charge and has allowed paranormal groups inside to investigate.
Felt Mansion, Saugatuck
This 17,000-square-foot mansion was built in 1928 by Dorr E. Felt for his beloved wife, Agnes. Sadly, she died in her bedroom only six weeks after moving in. Heartbroken, Mr. Felt died just over a year later. His surviving daughters took control of the Felt Estate. The girls’ mismanagement of funds and other hardships led to the estate being sold off in 1940 to the Catholic Church, which built a large dormitory on the grounds to be used as a boys’ school, while cloistered nuns lived in the mansion. In 1977 the State of Michigan purchased the property and renovated the dormitory into the Dunes Correctional Facility, a minimum-security prison. At least three murders took place during the prison days — of one guard and two inmates. Due to budget cuts, the prison closed in 1995. Laketown Township now owns the fully restored mansion. Neither Dorr nor Agnes ever left their mansion and still make their presences known in Dorr’s study and Agnes’ private bedroom. A dark, misty figure haunts the ballroom, and balls of light have been seen hovering around the estate grounds.
Pantlind Hotel, Grand Rapids
The epitome of wealth and hospitality of the early and mid-1900s was the grand Pantlind Hotel. Over the years, as buildings tend to do, the hotel began to deteriorate. In 1978, the Pantlind was purchased by the Amway Corp., which restored it to its historic beauty, and it became part of the Amway Grand Plaza. The Pantlind was host to several memorable deaths. Some of the best known are Amelia, the proprietor’s wife, who died in their hotel living quarters; Hiram Mills, a well-known surgeon who died in 1906, shortly after arriving at the hotel; a servant girl who was horribly mangled and decapitated by an elevator; and reporter Lueve Purcell, who, in pursuing a “hot story,” found that his twin brother, Charles, had choked to death in the dining room. It’s believed that both brothers haunt the hotel, as they were inseparable in life. Visitors have reported the sensation of being watched while they wait in the glorious lobby, and the ghostly figure of a woman has been sighted in the old “smoking section” of the hotel. The spirit of a young boy is often reported to be following guests down the corridors. Additionally, a couple in Victorian clothing has been seen waltzing in an old ballroom.