Believers in the paranormal say several businesses and buildings in Livingston County are haunted by ghosts.
Each year in October, local ghost hunting events attract people searching for evidence of an afterlife and a taste of local history.
From strange happenings in a former morgue to ghostly faces in store windows, the ghost stories abound.
Ghostly reflections in Howell windows
Did a woman really capture a photo of a ghost in a downtown Howell window?
Dianna O’Grady, who leads Howell Historical Ghost Tours every October, said people on her tours have captured ghostly apparitions in several storefront windows.
O’Grady said one of the most convincing photos is of a ghost tour participant’s reflection in a window near Advanced Medical Solutions on Grand River Avenue.
“She’s just taking a picture into one of the windows, and she had bright blue nail polish on that night. You can see a man with his hands over her hands. She has smaller hands.”
She said people on the tours have captured multiple images of the same face of a man with long hair in store windows.
“We’ve captured him several times over the years. Where the Howell Opera House is, there was a pub (The Eagle Tavern), and I feel he’s from there or connected to that property.”
The opera house is said to be haunted. A few years ago, sales manager Sharon Fisher said she had one specter sighting, a young woman standing on a staircase to the third floor gallery dressed in clothing from a century ago.
O’Grady’s ghost tours start from Howell’s MainStreet Winery, which is said to be haunted by several ghosts, including a young child and a dog.
She said she has seen and sensed paranormal activity at several locations downtown, including Chinese Delight.
Her outdoor walking tours will run through October, at 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays; from 8-8:45 p.m. and 9-9:45 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Advanced tickets are available at www.oessentialwisdom.com/ghost-tours
Unseen in the theater
Ghost hunters can explore the Historic Howell Theater for the seventh year.
Portal Paranormal Society returns to the theater in October for Meet the Unseen 7, a series of events in search of the theater’s fabled ghostly residents.
The group’s founder Ken Suminski, a Brighton native, told Livingston Daily a few years ago he started investigating the theater after hearing rumors of its haunting — including from former employees who reported seeing spirits in hallways.
Ghost hunts at the theater will be held from 9-11 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. to 2 a.m. Oct. 22, 23, 29 and 30; and from 9-11 p.m. on Halloween. Advance tickets are available at www.historichowelltheater.com/showtimes/2020/10/23/meet-the-unseen-6
Strange happenings in old Hartland
Each year, Cromaine District Library hosts ghost tours through the historic village area of Hartland Township, which is steeped in local legends.
Perhaps the most famous so-called haunted place is the Hartland United Methodist Church, which was built in 1859 and renovated in the early 20th century.
As the tale goes, a construction worker named Willy Shoemaker fell to his death while working on the church. A stained glass window there is dedicated to Shoemaker.
The Historic Music Hall, which was originally constructed as a church in 1858, is said to be another haunted location in the township’s historical district.
Music hall caretaker Don Thompson had a strange experience in the 1980s. The hall was putting on the Agatha Christie murder mystery “The Mousetrap.” As Thompson’s story goes, a mantel clock prop that had no inner workers chimed three times.
Haunted Hartland Walking Tours will be held from 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. Oct. 23.
Weird vibes in an old morgue
Would it be surprising if a former hospital with a morgue in the basement sends shivers down people’s spines?
Among several haunted restaurants, businesses and homes in downtown Brighton, the Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce building is a place were some souls took their final breaths.
The former Mellus Hospital, which was dedicated on Feb. 11, 1931, was built on a hill overlooking Brighton by Dr. Horace P. Mellus, who lived in a house on the land with his first wife Charlotte, according to an account published by the Brighton Area Historical Society.
Legend has it that people have experienced strange feelings in the basement, including former mayor and county commissioner Kate Lawrence, who reported being touched by something unseen.
Sanitorium lore lives on
For generations, people have suspected the site of the former Michigan State Sanitorium in Marion Township must have been haunted.
The facility was originally built in the early 20th century to treat tuberculosis. The first patients were admitted in 1907. It was later known as Howell State Hospital and the Hillcrest Regional Center for Developmental Disabilities. It served as a mental health hospital for people with disabilities in its later years.
The sanitorium closed in 1982 and was demolished a few years later. Homes were built on the site.
Locals still tell ghost stories connected to a series of tunnels between buildings that doctors would use as quick pathways.
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.