September 27, 2010 by Amy Elliott Bragg
Help me out: Haunted places in Detroit
In third grade, we did a unit on Farmington history. I think it involved making handmade soap and/or beeswax candles and talking about the pioneer days. As a capstone to the course, we went on a Farmington-area history field trip that included a stop at the Governor Warner Mansion, a trip to the Quaker Cemetery where Nathaniel Power is buried, and lunch at the Bostford Inn (now part of Botsford Hospital’s cancer center).
At the Inn, we were relegated with spooky stories of paranormal activity — waiters who’d felt cold hands on their shoulders in the back stairwell, footsteps in empty hallways. On our way out, two kids swore they’d seen a bust of Beethoven move its eyes back and forth. Back at the classroom, our exasperated teacher asked us to write about something, anything, we’d learned on the field trip besides silly ghost stories.
There’s a part of me that really empathizes with my third grade teacher. Sometimes tantalizing tall tales get in the way of honest, unglamorous insight.
But. There’s another part of me that really likes ghost stories. And today, that part of me is asking for yours.
I’m curious, in particular, about haunted sites of local, historical import. (I’m sure your late Aunt Mildred is responsible for the draft in your bedroom, but I’m not sure it makes for great blog fodder — you understand of course.) This website seems to indicate Fort Wayne is haunted. What’s that all about? Today I read about the ghost of a tennis player inexplicably haunting Indian Village. And what about Comerica Park? Did the spirit of Ty Cobb really wander up Michigan Avenue after Tiger Stadium was torn down, as if to say, “Same difference”?
Back in Farmington’s Oakwood Cemetery, they say that if you stop your car at the bottom of the western hill and put it in neutral, your car will go up another (much smaller) hill and out the gate of the cemetery. I tried this recently. I guess it kind of worked. It probably has more to do with physics and topography (guys, it’s a really small hill) than anything extraterrestrial, but with a month or so to go until Halloween, why not indulge?
Did you grow up hearing urban legends about haunted local spots? Have you seen the spectre of David Whitney roaming the dining rooms of his old house? Do you know anyone who refuses to work a night shift at Fort Shelby or has seen strange things at the Majestic Theater? And what about that tennis player?
Get in touch. I’ll be collecting stories and compiling the chilliest of the chilling (and the most hilariously outrageous) for posts throughout the month of October.
This will be fun! To get you inspired, I recommend one of my favorite This American Life segments: Starlee Kine investigates the prolific hauntings, all around Wisconsin, of the ghost of Walter Schroeder.