Test Your Courage at These Historically Haunted Spots in Michigan
Michigan has been a part of the union since 1837, but the residents who walked the coastlines date back to the Native American tribes who inhabited the land well before European settlers arrived. Naturally, with time comes tragedies, and there have unfortunately been plenty in this state.
With numerous ports located throughout the state’s coastlines, Michigan used to be one of the main passageways into the New World through the Great Lakes. Seeing hundreds if not thousands of immigrants into the country bringing with them disease, malnutrition, and starvation. One well-known story tells of a ship full of cholera-stricken passengers that stopped at an island to bury their dead. To their dismay, it was discovered that some of the sufferers were still alive, though all were buried.
There are scores of tales like this that haunt the state to this day. We’ll explore the three scariest spots crawling with paranormal activity.
Old City Orphanage - Marquette
Originally opened as Holy Cross Orphanage, the building stands the test of time on the Marquette hills. Built in 1915 on the top of the hill and later abandoned, the orphanage holds onto its dark and twisted reputation through local rumors and legend. Former children who have grown up and out of the orphanage refuse to talk about their time there, a plausible sign of the harsh treatment enacted by their nun caretakers. To this day, the orphanage is a part of the town’s history that isn’t widely discussed. The treatment of children is something that the town certainly doesn’t want to remember.
One popular ghost story is the legend of a little girl who went outside to play during a blizzard. The storm grew fierce and the girl got lost, so one nun ventured out into the snowstorm to find her. Since they were exposed to such frigid weather, the little girl came down with a bad case of pneumonia. Sadly, she died a few days later. To show the other children the consequences of not listening to their authority, the nuns decided to put the little girl's dead body on display in the orphanage lobby. Paranormal explorers have reported hearing the cries of children in the lobby to this day, as though they still bear witness to the painful treatment doled out at the hands of the nuns.
Jackson State Prison - Jackson
Built in 1838, Michigan’s first State prison is known for its harsh conditions and poor treatment of prisoners. Its overcrowded cells were a catalyst to the inhumane conditions the prisoners lived in, such as men being stacked on top of each other and handcuffed for over six hours at a time. Surprisingly, it was still in operation up until 1934. The prison was known as a stone medieval castle that was as tough as the criminals it contained. Today, a section of the old stone prison has been transformed and revamped into a destination for creatives, called the Armory Arts Village.
There are two common rumors that leave these grounds after visitors experience the cells and tunnels holding the trapped inmates’ souls. Tourists and ghost hunters both report hearing loud screams and chanting as though the voices were part of a riot, which had been a common occurrence throughout the prison’s history.
Strange smells and chills also overcome guests as they explore the grounds, denoting that there may be a spirit along for the ride.
The Holly Hotel
We saved the best and spookiest for last. The Holly Hotel is often referred to as one of the most haunted, historic, and symbolic buildings in Michigan. Built in 1891 as a railroad inn for those immigrating to the country, the hotel has seen countless guests and travelers pass through. With so much foot traffic comes plenty of good and bad times. Outside of the Holly Hotel was Martha Street, where all the town's saloons, brothels, and gambling halls stood. Here you’d find daily brawls, battles, and shoot outs. There were so many fights and injuries on this street that locals nicknamed it "Battle Alley”. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, helping to preserve the site for all to see and share.
The hauntings at this hotel can largely be attributed to the unexplained fires that engulfed the building twice, both on the same date but 65 years apart. The first fire occurred on January 19, 1913, unexpectedly taking lives and destroying property. One of the people who perished was the owner, Mr. John Hirst. Mr. Hirst can be found there today, his spirit believing he is still the Lord of the House. If you see a ghostly man wearing a top hat and trench coat, you might just be looking at the hotel’s former owner!
To this day, staff and visitors report the same spine-tingling experiences year after year. The ghosts and spirits that haunt the halls have very particular habits they follow, making these ghost tours an experience that is sure to give you the chills. A strong scent of cigar and perfume are reported most, as though echoes of the smells that occupied the hotel lobby and halls back in the day.
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