True Tales from Michigan -"true tales of ghostly & creepy experiences around Michigan..."


The Ghosts of the Former Hillcrest Sanatorium

My story is from my hometown, Howell.  A long time ago, there was Hillcrest Sanitarium.  It was built for TB patients, as far as I know. Rumors have been circulating about this place forever, about possible hauntings.  A very good friend of my mother worked there as a teenager.  She recalled seeing children with water-on-the-brain, and she called them 'watermelon heads'. (I read about the Melon Heads on your site).  The sanitarium had tunnels for wheeling out the dead and tons of outbuildings for whatever procedures and housing for staff.  All of them are gone now, except for the opening of one tunnel. 

Now, there is a subdivision of humungous homes all over the property (I know, Poltergeist, right?!). I don't know what would possess people to want to live on a property that housed so many deaths, but whatever. I've tried investigating by driving through the subdivision, but as it turns out, you can follow the old power lines up to the actual ruins, which aren't exactly where the subdivision is.  There's a trail down a narrow dirt road with a couple houses that will lead you to the highest point in Howell. That's where the sanitarium actually was.  If you go down the trail, there is a man who will come after you and kick you off the premises.  My friend (the same one with the mother who worked there) drove back there and got lost. They got out of the car, and walked around, and were lost for hours.  Mind you, he's pretty good with directions. 

Last winter, my friend and I drove up there and honest to God, I immediately felt sick when he drove around the entrance to the ruins. I felt like vomiting and the second he drove away, I was fine. I don't know if I'm a sensitive or not, but I will say that this has never happened to me before.  About two years ago, my mom's friend went out to the ruins on her lunch break with some friends.  She sat on the steps that lead deeper into the tunnels (before they were all filled in) and she got spooked so she ran out.  When they got back to work, they noticed that she had scratches under her clothes. I've heard about things like this, people getting scratched by unseen entities.  I thought I would share this with someone who is interested in the paranormal. I have more ghost stories, but I have to remember them all, Haha!  Thanks for the great work on the site! It's a blast to read!

Reader Story Submission - June 2010

Reader Submission October 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.

Chris B.


Read more about the history of this former place in our Haunted Places section.

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