Most Haunted Places in Detroit, MI
Over the past three hundred Detroit, Michigan, has endured difficulty after difficulty. Yet, through trial and error, the city persevered, but not without producing some of the most haunted places in Michigan. Haunted Detroit is covered by an ectoplasmic sheen that permeates the streets and abandoned buildings of Detroit Rock City.
Its many nicknames tell a story: The Motor City, The Murder City, and Hitsville USA, a story of industry, innovation, entertainment, and the consequences of their faults. With these failures come sorrow, and wherever sorrow follows, spirits wallow.
Where are the most haunted places in Detroit?
The most haunted places in Detroit can be anywhere: the empty building on the corner, one of the tallest temples in the world, the glamorous mansion down the street, or the favorite local pub. Major fires, riots, violent crime, and greed have left the city stocked with unearthly activity that continues to torment the living, as these souls were tortured before death.
Join us as we introduce you to some of the city’s notoriously haunted locations and discover who (and what!) stalks the locals of Murder City.
Ready to experience the most haunted places in Detroit yourself? Take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures, and let us take you right to them!
The Masonic Temple
The Freemasons played a large part in the nation’s history, particularly in this city on the shore of Lake Erie.
When French settlers first arrived on the strait of Lake Erie in 1701, they named the new settlement after the thin geographical body of water that got them there. Fur trappers, French soldiers, and one corrupt politician propelled the small settlement into its tumultuous future.
Their first leader, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, was the city’s earliest taste of abandonment. Cadillac, for which the famous car company was later named, was exiled to Louisiana after a series of power struggles with the French government.
His American contemporaries, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and other founding fathers, were Freemasons. Cadillac seemed to know of the future city’s potential, like other powerful men of his time. While he was forced to leave due to his “evil mind,” the Freemasons remained behind, maximizing this potential.
The Tallest Masonic Temple In The World
The intentions of the Freemasons are locked behind closed doors, but their display of wealth in Detroit is not. The Masonic Temple is a massive, 12-million cubic foot structure that houses 50 Masonic institutions.
Built between 1920 and 1926, it was constructed with 3.85 million bricks and 16 million pounds of steel. Inside are three theatres, now used for concerts, special events, and movie production. You can also find creepy entities that are as mysterious as the secretive Masons.
Spirits of The Masonic Temple
A gothic building adorned with strange gargoyles, it looks incredibly haunted, and the reality is far more terrifying. An older man’s spirit, believed to be the old caretaker, George, runs around the temple, seen often in the basement where he lived for quite some time.
The pressure of the job eventually dragged him into insanity. He was fired from his job, yet refused to leave the basement. One day, he hung himself from the ceiling, surrounded by the eerie props and costumes he loved.
Today, the eerie sound of footsteps can be heard echoing through the cavernous underground basement. The chilling sensation of cold spots has been reported, while some have claimed to hear creepy disembodied voices and whispers. Shadow figures line the walls, and the elevator often takes guests to whatever floor it chooses. Doors are known to frighten visitors when they slam shut on their own.
Yet, these hair-raising occurrences merely scratch the surface of the darkness that thrives within the walls of the Masonic Template of Detroit.
Historic Fort Wayne
The British took Detroit from the French in 1760, and by 1796 America stepped in. During this period, a series of forts were built to defend the settlement from colonial and native enemies. “Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit” (French), “Fort Lernoult” (British), and “Fort Wayne” (American) all played their role in defending “The Paris of The Midwest.”
None, however, played such an important and pivotal role as Fort Wayne.
Fort Wayne was constructed in 1842 as fears of British-controlled Canada grew. The scars of a British-controlled Detroit during the War of 1812 had not fully healed, and the Americans deemed protection necessary.
It wouldn’t see armed soldiers until the outbreak of the Civil War. For the next century, Fort Wayne served as a training station, a weapons procurement location during both world wars, and housed Italian prisoners of war during the latter of the two.
During the 1967 Detroit riots, it became a shelter for those affected by the fires, some even residing here until 1971. This much trauma often pulls out the realm of the unknown into our lives and paves the way for the hauntings it’s become known for.
Hauntings at Fort Wayne
Now run by the City of Detroit Recreation Department and the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition, the old fort is a museum and event space. It was even the finish line for the 31st season of the CBS reality show The Amazing Race in 2019.
Various events are thrown at the old fort: concerts, sports games, and Civil War reenactments. However, guests sometimes have trouble deciphering the actors from the Civil War phantoms that haunt the place.
Apparitions are seen and heard in the visitor’s center. The fort was built on top of a Native American burial ground, a recipe for having your own disrespected ghost. However, most of the phantoms resemble soldiers, suggesting that some did make it past the training grounds during the Civil War.
Who Haunts Detroit’s Fort Wayne?
Civil War soldiers who died during training, spirits of a Native American burial ground, and victims of the 1967 Detroit riots. The fort was used as a housing center during this time.
Detroit is a city known to harbor change in the face of hardship, from the numerous European/Native skirmishes, one of which took place right here at Elmwood Cemetery, to the rise and fall of the city in the 20th century.
The City of Reinvention pridefully earned this moniker and its numerous other decorated nicknames. However, some things never change. Death comes, and people need to be buried. The Elmwood Cemetery is Metro Detroit’s oldest operating institution offering the latter service.
Established in 1846, the Elmwood Cemetery was built upon forty-two acres of former farmland. Today, it has stretched to over eighty-six acres and, besides harboring numerous spirits, holds some of Detroit’s most prestigious citizens.
Who is in Detroit’s Elmwood Cemetery?
- Abolitionists Fredrick Douglas, George DeBaptiste, Dr. Joseph Freguson
- W.A. Burt, the inventor of the equatorial sextant and solar compass.
- George Cook, who led the Mormon Battalion to Los Angeles in 1846
The Elmwood Cemetery is recognized as a significant site for the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. It displays, once again, Detroit’s pension for perseverance in the face of danger.
Hauntings of the Elmwood Cemetery
No matter where you go, tragedy ensures a good ghost story.
The Elmwood Cemetery was once the site of the Battle of Bloody Run, duly named so on July 31st, 1763, when a small creek was filled with the blood of Enlighsmen and Native Americans.
260 British soldiers faced a large alliance of several Native tribes led by Chief Pontiac that day. Although they took the Native forces by surprise, they were no match for their brute strength and pure numbers.
Commanding Officer Captain James Dalyell was killed in the process, and as you probably guessed, the nearby creek was filled with his blood.
Today, numerous orbs and mysterious apparitions are seen wandering about Elmwood Cemetery. It is considered the most haunted cemetery in the Metro Detroit area.
The Two-Way Inn
Battles, fires, riots, and crime have kept Detroit on its feet. One of the most impactful disasters was the Great Fire of 1805. The population at the time was only 600, but the damage that ensued left the city in shambles.
Everything except Fort Lernoult and a few brick chimneys turned to ash. Luckily, no one died, but it was a lesson Detroit would never forget. This event now decorates the city flag and helped create the city’s modern street plan.
Sometimes, in the face of disaster, there is only one thing to do: drink, and every so often, one establishment rises out of the flames to lead the city to victory. This, my friends, is The Two-Way Inn.
The Ghost of Colonel Philetus Norris
With a name like that, you know this will be interesting. The good Colonel established the oldest bar in Detroit in 1876. Since then, much like the city it dwells in, it has changed its facade many times: village jail, general store, brothel, speakeasy, and now back to a bar.
This “fine dive” is considered the most haunted bar in Detroit and is home to several spirits.
The most well-known, of course, is the Colonel. This one-time Union spy, poet, archaeologist, and superintendent of Yellowstone National Park is seen walking around the Two Way, referred to as “The Cowboy” due to his trademark wide-brimmed hat.
Owner Mary Aganowski‘s family has owned the bar since 1973. She has seen the spirit of “The Lady in White,” who is believed to be one of Norris’ daughters.
During prohibition, the bar was a “dentist’s office,” a front legally prescribing alcohol for “toothaches.” Large amounts of “hooch” were illegally shipped from Canada during this era. A young boy believed to be the son of the resident speakeasy dentist now haunts the spirited building.
Spirits of The Two-Way Inn
- Colonel Philetus Norris
- The Lady In White
- The son of a former speakeasy dentist.
The Whitney House
As the years of the Civil War faded, Detroit established itself as one of the premier industrial cities in America. A legacy that would live on well until the middle of the 20th century.
Detroit was the largest manufacturer of heating and cooking stoves in the entire world by 1900. Machine shop products, foundry tools, and ships helped raise Detroit into an era of prominence and spur America’s new industrial boom.
A new upper class formed during the final decades of the 1800s, and no families were more influential than the Whitneys during this time.
The Haunted Whitney Restaurant
Their legacy lives on today at The Whitney Restaurant. Not only through the exorbitant decadence they left behind but also through their spirits. Many familiar faces float around the 21,000-square-foot mansion between servings of Beef Wellington and afternoon tea.
David Whitney, Jr. was Detroit’s wealthiest citizen during an era when the city was named “The Paris Of The Midwest.” Whitney moved to Detroit in 1857, becoming a success in the lumber industry before diverting his wealth into philanthropy, property, and prosperity.
His glorious mansion, a price of $12 million in modern currency, was lined with expensive Tiffany glass windows. It was built in honor of his first wife, who passed before construction. Her spirit can be heard sobbing on the third floor.
Flora Whitney was usurped by her younger sister, Sarah, who married David only a few months after her passing. Foul play was at foot, and even though Flora never lived in the home, her spirit has not rested from it.
David Whitney is often seen pacing about the top floor. He was under the care of his daughter Grace until he died of a heart attack in 1900. David always set tea for Grace in the carriage house, even on his deathbed.
Grace had left for France with her new husband and could not return in time to see her dying father. The heartbreak has tethered both of them to the house.
The tea is still set in the carriage house for the beautiful daughter. Grace makes her presence known if anyone removes it. Glassware falls off the shelf in the restaurant, and chaos ensues until it is returned.
If you visit The Whitney for a fine meal, whatever you do, don’t touch the tea set!
If you didn’t quite have the money to afford a luxury mansion, The Alhambra may have been your second-best bet. Now abandoned and decrepit, it was once considered one of the finest apartment buildings in Detroit.
It was immortalized in Detroit history in 1905 when nearly every family in the building was poisoned by a woman named Rose Barron. She has since been remembered as America’s first female serial killer.
Her bitter vengeance against this title cursed the building, killing many throughout the following decades. Their spirits are still seen as bright lights, orbs, and strange sounds in the empty highrise.
Rose Barron: America’s First Female Serial Killer
A cafe sat at the top of The Alhambra, another perk of the upper-class apartment structure. On January 19th, 1905, multiple families contracted strange stomach pains after eating there. Two people almost died from this incident, but luckily, all parties emerged unscathed and only slightly queezy.
Fingers were pointed at the former chef, Rose Barron. She quit one night prior after being demoted to the “scrubwoman.” It was discovered that she had been working as a chef for two other wealthy families in town, who had both fallen ill during her tenure.
Her father-in-law had died of arsenic poisoning during this same time. The same chemical was found in the food at the Alhambra.
Rose Barron’s Curse
She was eventually found not guilty, but she and her husband swore revenge on those who gave them such a bad name. Rose went on to run a boarding house where various traveling gentlemen mysteriously disappeared.
America’s first female serial killer set a curse upon The Alhambra. The building eventually fell into disrepair, but not before multiple people died inside it.
Three succumbed to odd fire-related injuries, one burning alive in his bed. The verdict was the classic lit cigarette while sleeping combo, but little evidence was found to support this.
Two others died of poisoning and overdose and were declared suicides.
The building is empty now, but passersby stunningly see bright lights in the dark corridors. The shadows of flames dancing along the walls appear and disappear within seconds of each other.
The Henry Ford Estate
The city’s role as an industrial powerhouse had reshaped into something more mobile at the dawn of the new century. The days of stovetops and cigars were being replaced by the automobile. At the driver’s wheel was the innovative and often controversial figure, Henry Ford.
Ford’s mansion on Fair Lane Drive is haunted by a politically skewed past— Ford was an adamant anti-semite— and his obsessive-compulsive butler.
Henry Ford and The Automobile
While Ford was not the first person to invent the automobile, that honor belonging to Charles Bardy King in 1896, he was the first to perfect and later automate its production.
In 1899, Ford successfully drove the “Quadricycle” around Detroit. This was the first of many iterations of the Model T the world would soon come to know.
His first company, The Detroit Automobile Company, would eventually falter due to Ford’s obsessive nature and his investor’s lack of trust. It had a short run between 1899 and 1901, proving that anyone, including the most productive man in American history, can and will fail.
The Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903, and by 1908, the modern Model-T Ford was out in the streets of Detroit. By 1913, the first assembly line in the world was open for business, employing 13,000 workers.
“The Motor City” was born, and Henry Ford was now one of the wealthiest men in America.
The Haunted of Henry Ford Estate
From 1915 till his death in 1947, Henry Ford and his family lived at 1 Fair Lane Drive. This 56-room, 5-story mansion was built on 1,300 acres of farmland and needed the right person to upkeep.
Ford hired a butler who was just as obsessive as he was. Constantly cleaning and tidying up messes, this butler took his job very seriously. The prudent man cleaned up any small piece of grime left behind by Ford’s numerous prestigious guests.
Apparitions of this dedicated employee appear from time to time at the old mansion, which is now open for tours.
He has followed people through the house, still determined to clean up their mess. On their own volition, doors, and cabinets open and close, and odd whisp-like forms have been captured on camera.
Tommy’s Detroit Bar
As The Motor City chugged along, so did the rest of the world. World War 1 broke out in Europe, and the industrial city replied with wartime enthusiasm. After the conflict, the onset of prohibition furthered Detroit’s reputation as a city of go-getters.
Illegal smuggling became the norm, and with Canada being just across the strait, a country where alcohol was still legal, it flourished in Detroit.
Smugglers and Speakeasies in Detroit
During the reigning days of the Purple Gang, Detroit’s most notorious prohibition-era gang, underground tunnels were commonplace. This allowed smugglers to safely transport their cargo, freshly purchased from their Canadian neighbors in Windsor, into the many underground speakeasies around Detroit.
There was big money to be mad. Smugglers often would pay farmers up to $20,000 to store this illegal hooch in their bars.
The most famous smuggler, still talked about today, was The Gray Ghost. A man who was never identified and eventually murdered by his employers, The Purple Gang, over a bad check.
Spirits of Tommy’s Detroit Bar
This local hangout is known for its good food, sports nights, and many overly active spirits. There are some doubters, like a patron who loudly exclaimed there was no ghost and was later pushed into the urinal by unseen hands, but the ghosts don’t pay mind.
The building was built in 1869, but the property has been used as a bar since the 1840s. The bar, once called Little Harry’s, was a hang-out spot for the Purple Gang during the height of prohibition.
While there is no proof of any murders being committed here, owner Tom Burelle states that in the 1950s, a man was murdered in the former speakeasy. This activity here is off the charts and shows evidence of multiple spirits.
Spiritual activity here ranges from physical altercations to lights turning on without electrical current and strange photographic evidence.
One woman took photos in the underground speakeasy tunnel. Claiming she captured orbs, she called over the owner. She and her friends were standing at the tunnel door at the time of the photo, but when the photographs were checked, there were no orbs or people! They had mysteriously disappeared out of the shot!
The Cadieux Cafe
As prohibition ended, the old speakeasies closed, and legal drinking flooded back into the streets. The old tunnels remained behind, and new businesses opened up on top of them.
One of Detroit’s most famous restaurants, featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations no less, The Cadieux Cafe was opened in 1933. Opened by immigrants from Belgium, it continues to cater to the Flemish community in the metro Detroit area.
The charm of old-world Belgium is carried on here through the game of feather bowling, steamed mussels, pommes frites, and dozens of Belgian-style beers. Cadieux Cafe is only one of four locations outside of Belgium that host a feather bowling league.
These traditions began in 1933 and continued in 1962 when Yvonne Devos and her husband Robert purchased the Flemish cultural center and eatery. These Flemish epicures ran the restaurant until their deaths when it was passed on to their son Ron Devos and his nephew Paul Misuraca.
The Devos Family Spirits
The Devos family’s love for their community and food has prevailed in the afterlife.
Yvonne Devos often appears in her favorite chair after hours, shocking the system of any straggling employee still trying to close up. She’ll often come belly up to the bar or a table to say “hello” to her treasured customers.
Objects constantly move on their own, and the apparition of a man, believed to be Robert Devos, has been seen in the basement. He walks through the lower level door, sharing his insight and happiness with others.
The restaurant was sold to restauranteur Paul Howard and musician John Rutherford in 2019, stoking the spectral flames and increasing the activity at the cafe.
St. Andrew’s Hall
Detroit became synonymous with entertainment and danger in the 20th Century. From the songs of Motown to Iggy Pop to Kiss, Detroit has a knack for exporting great talent.
But as economies faltered and the global workforce shifted, Detroit fell into disrepair. “Murder City” was born, and soon most of it was empty. Crime in the 1970’s, alongside Rock and Roll, was at its height. Over 700 murders occur every year, a crime rate that remains high.
As violent crime rose, more people left the city. In 1950, it was the fifth most populous city in the United States, with a population of 1,849,568. Today, it has been reduced to a mere 632,464 and ranks 27th.
But, as always, Detroit moved along and found new champions. No one represents Detroit better in modern times than rapper Eminem.
His first taste of failure and success took place in the basement at St. Andrew’s Hall. These rap battles were made famous in his biopic 8 Mile. But his body count on the mic isn’t the only thing haunting the place.
The Hauntings of The Shelter at St. Andrews
Now owned by LiveNation, this building was once the meeting place for St. Andrew’s Society of Detroit, a group of wealthy Scottish Americans. It was built in 1907 and hosted many community events, including Eminem’s earliest rap battles.
Upstairs is an exposed brick lounge where you can enjoy a nice beverage before a night of music. The main floor is now a music hall where anyone from Eminem, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Dylan, and Adele has performed.
Go outside, through the back alley, and you will find yourself in The Shelter, a much smaller room where Eminem got his start.
Bagpipes are often heard here, emanating from a bricked-up staircase entrance.
There have been multiple reports of apparitions. In particular, one enjoys chasing people up another flight of stairs.
Detroit's Most Haunted
Detroit, Michigan’s haunted houses, restaurants, bars, and buildings stretch endlessly across the metro area. The city’s rich history provides a fluid compendium of stories and lore woven between rugged streets and vacant homes.
The “evil nature” of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac seems to prevail, floating around like a spectral mist, hanging in the air and inhaled by Detroit’s citizens with every breath.
Ghost Tours In Detroit
Further your knowledge of Detroit Rock City on a tour with US Ghost Adventures. Be awe-struck at the immensity of The Masonic Temple or filled with terror at the empty Alhambra building.
Our experienced tour guides take you on a journey through the paranormal, breaking down Detroit’s unique history every step of the way.
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