The Felt Mansion
For many years, the 17,000 square foot Felt Mansion sat abandoned and alone among the tall dune grass and trees
by the Saugatuck State Park until a restoration project began around 2000. The mansion was originally completed in 1928 by inventor Dorr E. Felt for his wife Agnes and was a summer home for the Chicago family. Agnes died soon after completion and was never able to fully enjoy her beautiful estate. Some say this is why her ghost still lives on in the old home. Dorr Felt, born in 1862, made his millions by creating the comptometer, which was essentially an early version of a calculator. He died shortly after his wife in 1930.
In 1949, the mansion and property was sold by the Felt family to the St. Augustine Seminary for boys. According to the Felt Mansion website, the seminary used the carriage house for classrooms and the mansion for housing. Behind the mansion, they built a school. After the school was built, cloistered nuns moved into the mansion in the 1960's. During the 1970's, the State of Michigan began using the property for a State Police post and tore down the boy’s school behind the mansion and put up the Dunes Correctional Facility, a minimum security prison.
The Felt Mansion is now on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites.
Ghosts & Shadow People?Photo by Amberrose Hammond
The mansion has been a lot of things since its beginning, and it's not surprising to hear about a few ghosts roaming it's spacious interior. Soon after the remodeling started, the paranormal activity started as well. During the summer of 2001, The West Michigan Ghost Hunters Society gave ghost tours to the public. The tours included the mansion and the nearby run-down Dunes Correctional Facility. All of the money went to help restore the mansion and generated over $3,000 dollars. I was lucky to attend all of the tours and explore the mansion before most of the restoration began and the ghost tours stopped.
I can say from personal experience we had some strange stuff happen while on the tours. Doug of Ghostly Talk remembers being there and seeing Tom from Michigan's Otherside standing by the fountain close to somebody. They seemed so close that Doug asked Tom who he was "getting close to" by the fountain. Tom said he hadn't been standing next to anyone at all when he was over there.
I personally saw some of the wildest shadow people on video while recording in the ballroom on the third floor. I was there for an all night Halloween event and it was around 3:30 a.m. We had set up a night shot camera in the ballroom and sat back to watch if anything would happen on a television in the next room. In the far corner of the ballroom, which is now next to newly installed restrooms, a shadowy figure stepped out from no where. Everyone in the room saw it and it appeared to be human-like and blacker then the shadows around it. It seemed to be doing a sweeping motion as if it had a broom when a second figure appeared next to it and then, they were gone. South East Michigan Ghost Hunters were there as well and everyone tried to re-create the event by standing in the back of the ballroom, seeing if our shadows could have made the movements but nothing we did equaled what we saw on video. I can remember being so startled by what we were seeing that the hair on my arms was standing on end and a chill ran down my spine.
The shadows had appeared in a corner where we had a mock graveyard set up with tombstones and other Halloween props. I had made a couple tombstones and wasn't keen on walking over to that corner to pick them up, even with the lights on.
A door opens by itself...
Unfortunately, we don't have the infamous shadow person video, but we do have this little gem thanks to Jason Bouchard. One night after the tour was finished, Jason set his camera on a chair facing Agnes' room on the second floor. You can hear conversations from the WMGHS team downstairs in the background, but watch for the heavy French doors to open and close in this video. I had left by this point, but I do remember very clearly it was a warm, windless night and none of the windows in Agnes’ room were open. The doors lead into a sunroom overlooking the front of the property and are very heavy. You'll see them open and close once, then really blow open when an old WMGHS member walks into the room. This member was a funny guy and he remembers saying something inappropriate while cleaning up equipment in the room when all of a sudden, the doors blew open and an icy blast of cool air hit him square on. It was almost as if Agnes was giving him a big old ghostly slap for "being crass." Needless to say, it scared the *&^% out of him as you can see from the video. The video affectionately became known as “The Merle Incident.” In the video, you are looking into Agnes Felt's bedroom and the French doors are on the left side.
Article written by Amberrose Hammond