A Life of Languish: Holy Family Orphanage

Posted by in US Ghost Adventures

In Marquette, Michigan, stands the old Holy Family Orphanage. It was built in the early 1900s and quickly gained a reputation for being a dark and dangerous place for the children placed there — not the haven it was intended to be. It is sad how countless safe places lose themselves in the shuffle and become harborers of abuse and neglect.

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History of the Holy Family Orphanage

Construction on the Holy Family Orphanage began in 1914. The building opened almost immediately after it was completed in 1915, accepting children between the 2nd and 8th grades and, eventually, accepting infants and older children.

While it was intended to serve white children originally, it was terrible all on its own; some of its first residents were sixty Native American children transferred from a Catholic home in Assinins. These children had been placed in the Assinins’ home after being taken from their parents to accommodate their ‘integration’ into white culture. As stated in author Jennifer Billock’s book Ghosts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula:

‘Eight nuns arrived in Marquette with control of sixty Native American children, all of whom had been ripped from the arms of their parents in Assinins as babies in the continuing effort to assimilate native culture into white mainstream society. Locals today still tell stories of how their parents were stolen from their native families, placed in the orphanage and then adopted out to white families, never learning of their original heritage or customs until late adulthood.’

Life was tough at the orphanage, with days filled with nothing but church, chores, and classes. However, underneath the monotonous days lies something much more sinister. Many of the former residents of the orphanage, now adults, refuse to speak on their experiences at the Holy Family Orphanage, stating that the cruel and usual punishments they experienced were just too much to relive.

Allegations of Abuse

When the orphanage was finally up and running, stories started to emerge from the orphanage about children suffering at the hands of their caretakers. Children were reportedly beaten to death, emotionally or physically abused, or even left outside for hours during the Michigan winters. One story stands out, however:

‘One story that has been passed around but has only been somewhat proven is of a small girl who went out to play during a snowstorm. The weather quickly took a turn for the worse, and the girl became lost. One of the nuns had to rescue her, but by the time she got to her, the girl had developed pneumonia. She died a few days later. The nuns were still angry about her excursion out during winter and decided to make an example of her. They left the body on display in the lobby. Every child was forced to view the girl to be reminded about what could happen to them were they to disobey and go out in bad weather. Former residents confirmed that the death did indeed take place. The nuns held a funeral for the girl in the basement. None, however, would say whether the body was actually put on display.’

Arcadia Publishing

The final orphaned children left the hell hole of a building in 1967. They were a group of refugees fleeing from Fidel Castro’s regime. In the 1980s, the building was left completely abandoned. However, in 2017, the old orphanage was purchased and remodeled. It now stands as the Grandview Apartments, a modern building with fifty-six apartments and beautiful views of Lake Superior from the top floor.

But could the ghosts of those who suffered at the hands of the caretakers here remain? The checkered past of the orphanage has set the stage for more than just a few ghost-hunting crews and lovers of the unexplained to come through and investigate. Could this new structure be haunted? The answer seems to be a resounding yes.

Hauntings of the Old Holy Family Orphanage

Students from the nearby college often head out at night to try and experience something…and they usually did. One woman mentioned sneaking in with friends only to see an empty baby carriage mysteriously roll across the floor without explanation. Others hear the sounds of children crying from the lobby where the little girl was left for everyone to see. And in the basement, where the boy’s body was hidden, many have reported a glowing green orb encompassing a medical-style table. Locals frequently see lights flitting around inside the building after dark with no terrestrial explanation.

These events occurred before the building was converted into a modern apartment complex. But what about now? Are the Grandview Apartments haunted due to their location on this hallowed ground?

It’s tough to say — and even more challenging to explore. The apartments are a private community and do not offer any type of tours or access for investigations — unless, of course, you know someone who lives there and is willing to let you explore the building in search of entities.

However, when a location experiences negative energy, it is believed that those energies hold onto the land itself, not necessarily the structure in which the atrocities occurred. So, it is more than possible that the people who now reside in the apartments experience hauntings from the area’s time as an orphanage.

What do you think?

To discover more haunted locations in Michigan, book a ghost tour in Grand Rapids, MI!