2011-03-16 / Community View

Haunted or not, Lapeer house makes for great ghost story


It was a really good day for a ghost story.

These almost-end-of-winter days leave a person chilled to the bone anyway, so a spooky story really doesn’t have to work too hard to make that happen.

I wasn’t really expecting a ghost story when I posted on my Facebook wall last week. I simply re-asked a question that had been posted on the Lapeer District Library wall: What would be included if there was a book called Weird Lapeer.

One of my friends, Kimberley, mentioned the old hospital on Pine Street, and said it was haunted. The ornate house has been divided into apartments and she had lived in one of them. She claimed to even have taken a photo of one of the spirits inhabiting the place.

Intrigued, I pressed her for more information. Here’s what she said:

When she lived there, she heard scratching noises in the walls, which bothered her enough to sleep with music or the television on the whole time she lived there. She also said she heard a little girl giggling and calling her name on the second floor by the stairs. The night she was moving out, she saw — and photographed — a full apparition on the stairs between the first and second floor.

And then there is the story that she fears makes her sound crazy.

“I was waking up in bed in the main room. I was in that lucid, almost wide awake but not-quite-thereyet state,” she said. “The little girl, Elizabeth, was standing at the side of my bed, staring me right in the eyes. She was wearing a light blue dress and had very dark hair. She looked to be between 5 and 7 years old. Then the nurse came up to the end of the hallway from the bathroom — about 5 or so feet — and told her to come back, called her by name. Nurse’s name was Virginia. I think she had a name tag on. (She was) wearing traditional old-fashioned nurse garb. She took the little girl and they went back toward the bathroom, away from the main area. I couldn’t breathe the whole time this was happening.”

Oh, yeah. Definitely spooky stuff for a cold, wet, gray day.

But spookier still was that another friend of mine, Naomi, chimed in that she, too, had lived in the Pine Street house and she, too, believed it was haunted. She said she also felt strange sensations on the stairs — enough to cause her to use the outdoors set of stairs, even at night and in the rain — and she, too, heard weird noises including the voice of a little girl.

“You know, come to think of it, I always thought I saw (things) in that apartment. Like people and stuff,” Naomi said. “I used to just tell myself it was the living alone that was getting to me. I, like, never stayed there! I always went over to a friend’s house. I hated being alone in that apartment. I just always felt uncomfortable, you know? Maybe I wasn’t as crazy as I thought.”

Upon comparing stories, Kimberley and Naomi, who don’t know each other except on Facebook, where they are both my friend, discovered that they had, in fact, lived in the very same apartment. I have always loved walking with my sons down Pine Street, mainly because of that beautiful old house, and I’ve always wondered about its history. I’d love to see the interior one day.

According to the Images of America book, The Lapeer Area by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield, the house was built in 1875 by Peter Van Dyke in the French Second Empire architectural style. The house later belonged to Samuel Tomlinson, editor of the Lapeer Clarion newspaper. It was bought in 1924 by some sisters named Hunter and renovated to a nine-bed hospital. The second floor, where Naomi and Kimberley lived, was used for surgery. The hospital was open for operation until 1953.

Whether or not it’s truly haunted is up for debate. Those who have seen and heard inexplicable things there believe wholeheartedly in their experiences. Others might be more skeptical.

But one thing is certain, it definitely makes for a great ghost story on a chilly winter’s day.

Krystal Johns writes “Tales from the ‘Hood (Motherhood)” for The County Press. She can be reached at krys13@msn.com

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