Michigan is a state that, to us outsiders, is probably best known for being shaped like a giant mitten. But most places seem to have ghostly stories these days, and they’re no exception. Here are four creepy haunted places in Michigan.
1. Fort Holmes
Constructed by British soldiers during the War of 1812, this fort on Mackinac Island was originally named Fort George after King George III. It was later renamed for Major Andrew Hunter Holmes, who was killed in battle in 1814. After the war, it was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
Ever since, visitors have reported strange happenings. The most widely told story seems to be that of three men dressed in solider garb, apparently having a conversation with one another. But if anyone else tries to interact with them, they promptly disappear. Because the fort was reportedly built over a Native American burial ground, disembodied voices in the area are also said to be the ghost of members of the Ojibwa tribe.
The fort was recently reconstructed and is open to the public from May to October very year. So who knows…maybe you’ll experience some paranormal activity there yourself.
2. Traverse City State Hospital
This hospital in Traverse City was opened in 1885 as Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane. But unlike many other haunted asylums, this one has no stories of patient abuse — quite the opposite, in fact. Founding Medical Superintendent Dr. James Decker Munson believed that “beauty is therapy” and tried to make the building look nice so patients felt at home. Patients were said to be treated very well overall, and straight jackets were reportedly banned.
Still, any hospital is likely going to have deaths within its walls — and, consequently, the potential for ghost stories. Strange shadows, disembodied voices and screams, flickering lights and ghost children are just a few of the reported goings-on there. Religious objects are said to be destroyed before they can enter the building, and there’s supposedly a ghost in the chapel of someone who took their own life there. Other rumors include a monster in the basement and a portal to hell under a tree on the property.
In the years since its closing, most of the hospital’s buildings have been renovated and turned into “The Village,” which offers various shopping, dining and outdoor experiences. But even now, the ghost stories haven’t stopped. A woman in business attire is said to greet guests as they walk into one of the new shopping areas…only to promptly disappear.
3. Seul Choix Point Lighthouse
The Seul Choix Point Lighthouse sits in Gulliver, in the state’s upper peninsula. It was built in 1895 and guided ships safely into harbor — as most lighthouses do.
There are several reported hauntings here, but most are related to Joseph Willie Townsend, who lived at the lighthouse and worked as its carer in the early 1900’s. Visitors have reported smelling cigar smoke in Townsend’s former residence, even when nobody there is smoking. This is said to be the ghost of Townsend, smoking in death because his wife wouldn’t let him in life. Forks at the residence are found turned upside down, something else Townsend was said to do. Strange noises, shadows, rearranged furniture and even the ghost of Townsend himself have also been reported.
But he’s not the only ghost hanging around. One story says Townsend’s brother came to visit him and died unexpectedly of an illness while he was still there. His body was embalmed and kept at the lighthouse while his loved ones made the journey there to pay their respects. Both he and Townsend’s mother-in-law are also said to call the lighthouse their eternal home.
Others believe some of the hauntings may be attributed to people who died in shipwrecks in the area. Whoever — or whatever — is causing these strange occurrences, they seem to be pretty friendly spirits. The lighthouse is open to visitors, so stop on by if you’re in the area and see for yourself.
4. Holy Family Orphanage
Opened in 1915, the Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette was supposed to be a safe haven for children who had nowhere else to go. But the rumor mill suggests otherwise. Horrific stories allege abuse by the nuns who ran the place. In one account, a young girl snuck outside to play and died of pneumonia she contracted in the cold. As the story goes, the nuns then put her body on display for all the other children to see. Multiple stories suggest the nuns may have killed children and hidden their bodies on the property — or even set them up as Halloween props. Others suggested they set the orphanage up for white children only but then kidnapped Asian and Native American kids. It’s not clear whether these stories are true, highly exaggerated or completely made up, but they no doubt fueled the paranormal legends to come.
The orphanage closed in 1965, and the building was used as office space for awhile before being abandoned in 1981. It’s likely during this period that the rumors began: The cries of children on otherwise quiet nights. Apparitions. A baby carriage rolling across the floor on its own. And lights coming on when the building hadn’t had electricity for quite some time. Another story tells of a boy who was allegedly killed by a nun, then buried in nearby Park Cemetery. The boy is said to periodically crawl out of his grave, then somehow cause a green glow at the orphanage when he goes back in. What he does while roaming the world of the living isn’t clear.
Are all these stories just campfire tales, caused by a creepy old building and the overactive imaginations of passers by? Or are they the remnants of tortured souls within the building’s walls?
After sitting vacant for over 30 years, the building was revamped and turned into affordable housing (which appears to still be under construction). Only time will tell if the ghosts of the former orphanage decide to stick around.