Close Encounters of the Ypsi Kind

Eastern Michigan University’s campus and the surrounding Ypsilanti area have a long history, rich with bone-chilling ghost stories.

Starkweather Hall is the oldest standing building on EMU’s campus, built in 1896. It is also rumored to have the highest level of paranormal activity on campus.

Mary Ann Starkweather dedicated it to the university under the condition it was to only be used by the Student’s Christian Association. When the group disbanded in the 1920s, the Office of Religious Affairs held it until 1976. Supposedly that office’s dissolution caused the return of Mary’s specter to haunt the halls of the Honors College.

Paranormal Reports from Starkweather:

About five years ago a janitor was so jarred by feeling someone touch him while cleaning that he didn’t even stay for questioning.

A few years later, a graduate student was in the basement of Starkweather when she encountered a switch that adamantly turned off the bathroom light after she repeatedly clicked it on.

Since King Hall’s renovation from a female dormitory into offices for the Early College Alliance, the Art Department, WEMU and the Echo, strange things have been reported:

  • Computers turning on and off without warning
  • Light fixtures oozing black muck
  • Doors that open or close on their own
  • Footsteps running down hallways at night

Pease Auditorium used to be where music classes were held, but the building also houses a fatal love story. A young trumpet player once executed his soprano singing lover, her audience of one man and then himself. Other versions of the story have also identified the trumpet player as a piano player.

A recent group of students who were cleaning the auditorium after a show heard footsteps going up to the balcony. Then the chair, where the trumpet player shot from supposedly unfolded. This activity is reported repeatedly from students throughout generations.

The Physical Plant and Ann Street area of campus is built on burial grounds from the 1800s, which might explain many unusual sounds and sightings students have reported while walking around campus.

John Norman Collins, who Michiganders refer to as the “Coed Killer,” is simply the man charged with “The Michigan Murders” to those out-of-state. He brutally murdered six, and was suspected of 15 other murders of EMU and U of M female students between 1967 and 1969.

The students were murdered in horrific ways with their bodies intentionally dumped in open, lovers-lane type roads and on abandoned farms in the area.

It’s said that if you drive down by Geddes Road and LeForge Street alone at night, you can see the silhouette of the old farmhouse that is no longer there but is said to be haunted by the girl he murdered there.

A fifth hospital was proposed in 1929 and the Ypsilanti State Hospital grounds was born. Spanning 690 acres and operating through the flux of the Depression and World War II, the hospital began to decline in population during the 60’s when it was renamed Ypsilanti Regional Psychiatric Hospital.

There is a book about three specific patients, all of whom believed themselves to be Jesus Christ, called “The Three Christs of Ypsilanti.”

In 1991 Governor John Engler pushed for spending cuts to mental facilities, beginning the true demise of the historic haunting structure. In the past, people claim to have heard moaning noises when venturing through what buildings, bathing rooms and tunnels remained of the facility.

Visitors reported a “satanic room” with a pentagram drawn on the floor and H.P. Lovecraft quotes written on the walls. There was also an eerie putt-putt golf course on the grounds. By August 2008 the demolition of the facility was complete and now a Toyota research facility stands in its place.

The website Forgotten USA gives a breakdown by city and location for reported hauntings, for those souls interested in further paranormal sites.


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