Image courtesy of Visit the USA.
Motor City is an urban explorer’s dream come true, but what you might not know is that on top of having some of the most epic abandoned buildings, Motown is also a paranormal playground. From military forts to cursed restaurants to a legendary red gnome, Detroit knows how to bring the weird and spooky. Grab your proton pack and get exploring at these haunted hotspots!
6325 W. Jefferson Ave. | Delray | historicfortwaynecoalition.com
People claim that most of the strange paranormal activity going on at Fort Wayne happens at 1:20am… and no one knows why. There have been sightings of spectral soldiers wandering around the fort’s 96 acres, while visitors claim to hear the sound of mysterious footsteps and voices from beyond the grave. Fort volunteers report that display items have a history of disappearing and reappearing weeks later.
Fort Wayne is the last Native American burial mound in the city, and according to many, is haunted by the ghosts of the “Yam-Ko-Desh”, also known as “the Mound Builders.” In order to help the newly departed pass on, they would walk back and forth in a nearby creek until the ghosts passed over to the spirit world.
“This place is so interesting, especially in the dark with the creepiness factored in! It's much better preserved than I expected.” -Yelp Review
5201 Woodward Ave. | Midtown | detroitpubliclibrary.org
There’s a very good chance that you’ll never get one of the Detroit Public Library’s librarians to admit it, but the city’s favorite library is most definitely haunted. There have been reports of books flying off shelves, and some are even rearranged by unseen hands.
“This place is pretty cool, with lots of amazing architecture and styling, and community resources.” -Yelp Review
5200 Woodward Ave. | Midtown | dia.org
Many of the security guards who have worked the night shift at the Detroit Art Institute say that there’s absolutely something paranormal going on behind its walls. Often times the guards report hearing loud thuds that echo through the halls of the empty museum. Others claim to hear the sounds of people dragging something around the building at times when there should be no one on the property.
The most active area of the museum is the African art gallery, specifically a statue nicknamed the “Nail Figure”. The wooden statue is completely impaled with sharp nails, and according to eyewitnesses, it has been known to move, and in some instances, even dance.
“This was on my Must Do list for the few days I was in Detroit and as expected it was phenomenal.” -Yelp Review
4421 Woodward Ave. | Midtown | thewhitney.com
The Whitney Restaurant was originally built as a home for David Whitney, Jr. and his wife Sarah. According to the legend, the couple died inside the home, but decided to never leave. In the 1980s, people began recording the strange experiences they were having on all three floors. Witnesses claim to see the apparition of a man wearing a tuxedo on the second floor and hear the sound of people whispering to each other when no one is around.
“The Whitney is also gorgeous with large crystal chandeliers, stained glass windows, winding stairs, fireplaces, and an original vintage haunted mansion vibe.” -Yelp Review
1200 Elmwood Ave. | Elmwood Park | elmwoodhistoriccemetery.org
On July 31, 1763, Chief Pontiac and 250 braves hid in the trees above what eventually became Elmwood Cemetery, and killed between 60 to 160 British soldiers. This incident became known as “The Battle of Bloody Run”, and as a result, many people claim to see strange orbs and other odd anomalies in the cemetery as well as the apparitions of the men who died that fateful day.
One of the most famous ghosts at Elmwood Cemetery is known as “The Veiled Lady.” She is said to invoke terrible feelings of fear and dread in anyone who sees her. And those who are brave enough to stand in front of her grave under the moonlight report disembodied voices and strange smells.
“Elmwood Cemetery has great historical significance to Detroit and the state at large...is next to a quiet, creek which coincidentally was the location of the Battle of Bloody Run, a fierce battle during the British campaign.” -Yelp Review
24293 Telegraph Rd. | Southfield | puppetart.org
There’s only one thing scarier than a puppet theater… a haunted puppet theater! According to eyewitnesses, the Detroit Puppet Theater is not only home to terrifying dolls, but a few ghosts as well. The scent of pipe smoke is sometimes smelled by guests, and many report feeling strange cold spots throughout the building.
“The puppets and puppeteers were absolutely magnificent. Beautiful, emotion-filled, skillful…” -Yelp Review
400 Bagley St. | Downtown | facebook.com/LelandCityClub
Not only is The Leland Hotel legendary thanks to clientele like Jimmy Hoffa and the Purple Gang, it was also Detroit’s most popular hotel in the Roaring 20s. Today, The Leland is an underground club that has been the sight of many deaths. Over the years, people have reported hearing the sounds of disembodied voices and footsteps echoing through the halls.
“If you have a weak heart or are easily spooked, I DO NOT recommend taking the stairs!” -Yelp Review
500 Temple | Midtown | themasonic.com
Detroit’s Masonic Temple is the biggest in the world. It was built in 1912 by George D. Mason and has more than 1,000 rooms, including secret staircases, hidden passages, and even compartments hidden in the floors. Unfortunately, Mason may have gone a bit overboard building the temple, and when he went bankrupt, his wife decided to leave him. Mason spiraled into depression, and eventually jumped to his death from the temple’s roof.
To this day, people say they see him ascending the stairs slowly towards the roof. Guests and staff also experience cold spots, strange shadows, doors opening and closing, and the overwhelming feeling of being watched.
“We did the tour that is available on the first and third Sundays of the month. It is highly recommended. It's a very interesting building. Bring cameras.” -Yelp Review
3711 Woodward Ave. | Midtown | dso.org
All the world’s a stage, and some ghosts stick around even after the show is over. Image courtesy of @alisha.nakhle on Instagram.
Haunted by famed Russian pianist Ossip Gabrilowitsch, guests to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have experienced cold spots, strange smells, and even the sounds of music when no one is around.
“Now restored to its original splendor, the interior of the building is lovely...But the hall is more than simply lovely; it is acoustically superior.” -Yelp Review
4300 Cadieux Rd. | East English Village | cadieuxcafe.com
Guests visiting the Cadieux Cafe have witnessed the ghost of Yvonne Devos, the mother of the owner, sitting quietly at the bar or seated at a table, forlornly looking off into the distance.
“Cadieux is awesome. This place will also hold a dear place in my heart...Just wish there weren't ghosts.” -Yelp Review
S. LaSalle Gardens and Rosa Parks Blvd. | LaSalle Gardens
Strange smells, cold spots, and mysterious bangs have plagued St. Agnes Church for the last 50 years. Some say it’s the spirit of a nun who still spends her days attending to the congregation, even though the church has been closed for years and has fallen to ruin.
So, there you have it! If you’re headed to Motown and you’re looking to do a little paranormal adventuring of your own, look no further than this spooky-fueled tour of haunted Detroit!
Did you encounter any of these ghostly hotspots on your trip to Detroit? Share your own Motown paranormal encounters with us on Twitter.