TRAVERSE CITY STATE HOSPITAL

(The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, Northern Michigan Asylum)

830 Cottageview Drive, Traverse City, MI

(231) 941-1900

Status: Former Psychiatric Hospital; Shopping Mall

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History

First called the Northern Michigan Asylum this facility was established in 1881 as a solution to the need of a third psychiatric facility in the State.

The hospital opened in 1885 with 43 patients. Eventually there would be 3,000 patients living in multiple buildings.

Of the original three asylums in the State – Kalamazoo (still a psychiatric hospital but a much smaller campus now) and Pontiac (demolished in 2000) – it is the only one with the main Kirkbride building still intact.

The main building was the first one built and was called Building 50. Between 1885 and 1903 twelve patient housing cottages and 2 infirmaries were built.

Like many other institutions during the time patients were encouraged to work on the farm that was built on site. The use of restraints was prohibited here and patients were to be treated with comfort and fresh air.

In 1926 the James Decker Munson Hospital was established in honor of the first superintendent. In the 1950’s it was replaced by the Munson Medical Center which still operates today.

In the 1930’s three buildings were constructed where the Munson Center parking lot and the Pavilions are now.

In the 1950’s the farm was closed and the majority of the farm buildings were demolished in the 1970’s. In 1963 the main center wing of Building 50 was demolished and replaced with a modern building after it was deemed a fire hazard.

In 1989 the facility was closed with a loss of over 200 jobs to the city. The hospital grounds were split up and given to the Munson Medical Center, the Pavilions and Garfield Township.

For more than a decade the core grounds remained unused with lots of plans that never really got off the ground. Most of the buildings deemed of lesser historical value were torn down but Building 50 and the majority of the cottages stayed intact.

In 2000 the Village at Grand Traverse Commons began a preservation and re-use of Building 50 developing it into a residential and commercial area. The majority of the cottages are now occupied by tenants and the grounds have been converted into parkland and gardens.

 

Paranormal Activity

People have reported feeling very uneasy feelings on the grounds of the former hospital; especially in the vicinity of the Hippy Tree. They also describe feelings of being watched and strong feelings of not being wanted.

Some go as far as to say there is an evil and dangerous energy there. There’s even an Urban Legend that the Hippy Tree is a gateway to Hell.

Apparitions are seen both on the grounds and in the former hospital buildings; apparitions of both former patients and staff. Some construction workers even quit their jobs after seeing the ghosts of people in hospital gowns wandering the property.

Disembodied voices are frequently heard – including unseen people having full conversations – both on the grounds in the buildings. Ghostly voices have even been recorded by news correspondents doing reports in the area.

In the former laundry room people report intense feelings of being watched and doors slamming on their own.

In the tunnels below the buildings and overwhelming dark and cold energy is felt to the point where people have become physically sick.

In the asylum’s former chapel legend says a priest hung himself after he was driven insane by dark entities.

Other Reported Activity: extreme sudden changes in the energy and the air; phantom footsteps; touches, tugs and pulls by unseen entities; light anomalies and electrical disturbances.

In the month of October “Asylum After Dark Tours” are generally run. These tours are very specifically not labeled as ghost tours or haunted experiences however; they do provide a way into the old asylum buildings after dark and away from the crowds.