The Michigan Bell Building sits unsuspectingly on the corner of Fountain Street and Division Avenue, a simple grey box now owned by AT&T. Its past tells a much more complex story, a strange tale of murder, violence, and paranormal activity.
A glorious mansion once stood here, the Judd-White House, remnants of an era of prosperity for Grand Rapids. All that remains now are the stories of those who lived there and their spirits.
The Randalls, Warren, and Virginia were once tenants of this grand yet decrepit mansion. The railroad business brought them here from Detroit in search of a better life. But that same industrial attitude would quickly turn to jealousy and rage after a tragic accident. Their good fortunes transformed into certain doom.
Their spirits remain trapped in the Michigan Bell Building, forever tormented by a toxic relationship that ended in marring violence.
Take a journey with us as we explore the haunted Michigan Bell Building and explain the wooden leg murder-suicide in full, graphic detail. Warning: it is not for the faint of heart.
If you think you can handle the truth, then see it for yourself. On a tour with US Ghost Adventures!
The Michigan Bell Building, in practical application, is nothing special. It was built in 1924 for the Michigan Bell telephone company. Six stories were constructed that year, with three more windowless floors added later.
Michigan Bell was part of The Bell Telephone Company, the first telephone company in the United States. The company was founded in July of 1877 in Boston, and just a month later, Grand Rapids was home to Michigan’s first telephone. Exciting stuff, we know.
The Bell Company eventually transformed into AT&T, and the building is still owned and operated by them, but enough about phones. Let’s get to the spirits.
Before the construction of the Michigan Bell Building, there was a mansion that once stood here. It was home to George and Sarah White, some of the city’s first settlers. They lived in Grand Rapids when it became an official city in 1850.
Their palatial home was built in 1853 and was their home while George served as mayor of Grand Rapids in 1861 and 1862. He was a wealthy man who made his money in the plaster business. But his wealth was not enough to keep the mansion from deteriorating over the years.
By the early 1900s, the home was a shadow of its former self and was rented out to various tenants, the perfect home for eager newcomers to Grand Rapids, such as Warren and Virginia Randall.
The Randalls moved to Grand Rapids from Detroit in 1907. Warren worked in the railroad businesses as a brakeman, and the two rented a room in the old mansion. They lived a happy life in the mansion turned boarding house until tragedy struck.
Warren was caught up in a tragic accident in the summer of 1908. He lost his leg on the tracks and was never the same. He was given a prosthetic but could not return to work; the debilitating accident led him to madness.
He became paranoid and irrational, accusing Virginia of having affairs with men with more legs than him. His paranoia slowly turned to anger, and the police were frequently called to the home. Warren’s violent outbursts were not enough for Virginia to leave him until the summer of 1910.
The police were called to the home once more because Warren had chased Virginia out of the house with a razor! She finally left him but was somehow coerced into returning to him a few months later.
That night, they took a faithful carriage ride through Grand Rapids, returning to their now vacant former home. Warren killed Virginia that night, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, beating her to death with his wooden leg. He then slit his throat with the same razor he used to chase her out of the house.
Neighbors began complaining of a putrid smell wafting out of the old abandoned building. When the police hit the scene, they found the Warrens rotting corpses barricaded in their former room. They had been sitting there for weeks.
Residents on the corner of Fountain and Division would complain for years of hearing loud voices arguing late into the night coming from the old building. Police would investigate, but they would never find anyone there.
Eventually, in 1924, the Judd-White Mansion was torn down, and the Michigan Bell Building was constructed in its place. But the paranormal activity did not stop there; it only grew.
Many nearby residents would receive phone calls in the middle of the night, but only silence met them on the other end. The calls became so frequent that the police, once again, got involved. It seems Warren’s anger could not rest, even in the afterlife. All of the calls were traced back to the Michigan Bell Building.
Some say the calls persist today, and you can still hear Warren and Virginia arguing late into the night. These paranormal activities are frequent in Grand Rapids, a city with a bizarre and odd history like no other.
Experience it firsthand on a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures! Our experienced tour guides know all the secrets Grand Rapids is hiding. Check out our blog for further information on the city’s history, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok for more spooky content!