Haunted Howell, Michigan

Howell is home to a few haunts such as the historic Oprah House in the beautiful downtown area. But the first story were going to focus on here is the old Michigan State Sanatorium.

Tuberculosis, also known as consumption and the “white plague” was a major illness at one time and still is in parts of the world. Millions of deaths were caused by TB during the 20 th century in the United States. TB was hard to control and deadly. Many hospitals were specifically built to house those stricken with TB such as the now famous, Waverly Hill Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky. Michigan had its fair share of hospitals to deal with the sickness as well. In 1890, the state was urged to create a sanatorium to care for TB patients. TB hospitals called for high ground to be built on as any low, swamp lands were considerable breeding grounds for the tuberculosis bacteria.

In 1906, construction began in Howell, Michigan for the Michigan State Sanatorium, located on an area of land 1,100 feet above sea level. On September 7 th, 1907, the hospital opened its doors to patients. It originally started out with 16 beds and grew to 500 beds from the years 1909 to 1930. After antibiotics were created that severely reduced the death rate of TB, the hospital started to accept people with mental disabilities and changed its name to the Howell State Hospital and was renamed once more in 1978 as Hillcrest Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled. The 1980’s saw the closing of many mental hospital doors such as the Traverse City State Hospital in Michigan and Hillcrest closed its doors in 1982. Healthcare reform and the advent of new prescription drugs for mental problems started to change the way people with disabilities lived. The Hillcrest buildings were demolished and many years later, a subdivision was put in for upscale, large homes. For years before the subdivision went in, the area was rumored to be haunted. People had experiences there that they believed were directly linked to the former hospital and its patients who died there.

If you have stories to share about this former piece of Michigan history, please write us and share!

Visit our True Tales Section to learn about first hand accounts of ghostly activity at this former location.

Reader Submission 2012

So I read the story about Hillcrest in Howell. I’ve lived here my entire 21 years I’ve been alive. My grandfather owns the property that the homes are built on and that entails the former TB center. I have been going here for many years and I consider myself an almost tour guide up to the property where only the foundation stands. I enjoy taking people up to the top where along the way, yes people get sick, experience headaches, get cut, scratched and there are multiple full body apparitions and what seem to be apparitions that will mirror your exact movement but appear to be shadows that walk at least 30 feet from you, so your own shadow is out of the question.

The trail is also frequented by a young girl dressed in white, longer black hair and what seems to have white eyes that will follow you, mimic you and or even talk to you. For some time now, it has been getting harder and harder to make it up the hill without something almost terrifying happening and having to leave. It’s almost as if something is keeping us from the top. When we arrive and start getting to the tree line, the trees around you start moving and creaking. You will start to hear what seems to be cackling, full body apparitions will start to appear half way up the hill and the creaking moves closer and the cackling gets louder. To me and with the research I have done, there almost seems to be elementals or some sort of Indian spirits. Then as you reach the half way point, a fear rises as the apparitions start to get closer and the only feeling you have is RUN!! I’ve never had to before but this seems to be getting worse every time and me and the people I bring can’t seem to make it any further. Well, just thought I would fill you in with what I have experienced and maybe give more insight on the legend.


Jeff Danies at the Howell Opera House

Tom | MySpace Video


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