Back in October I was invited to a private tour of Eloise Psychiatric Hospital with Detroit Paranormal's Todd Bonner. For years I had wanted to sneak in under the radar and explore Eloise myself, to look for ghosts and ruins of an era gone by. I never did get that chance. But when I finally did it was everything I had hoped for.
Imagine it. You're about to enter a documented and proven haunted building that's been a cultural staple for all ghost hunts and lore in the area for decades. It's exciting! You walk in and immediately feel a buzz in the air. Something electric. You like it. You're on edge, your heart is beating so fast already. You look around quickly- try to act cool, bitch! The ghosts are watching! You know you're in your head, so much so that you can hear your own heartbeat. Paint is peeling all over the walls. Some of it fell down behind you. Did you bump it? You don't think so. Gravity? Ghosts? Wind? Could be anything. It's probably ghosts. You shrug it off and move forward. Turns out this building does not take in a lot of natural light in this specific area, so immediately you're plunging yourself into semi-darkness. The air feels thicker, every noise seems a little bit louder- every wind whistle, every breath, every shoe scrape on the hall floor. You're waiting alone for your guide to close up the main door, and you're just imagining a small tap on your shoulder, a slight brush past you, a whisper in your ear. It feels like you're sucking in your stomach some, tensing your muscles in anticipation. You can feel the blood in your ears as you strain to hear something or someone moving around beside you. You feel slightly dizzy now. Do you move forward? Do you dare step forward by yourself?
Bitch, be cool!
Hold up, it's time for some history: Eloise Hospital was an open facility from 1839-1982 (1986 according to the state). It started out as a poor house turned hospital, asylum and sanitarium at varying times and over her various 78 buildings. During her peak in the Great Depression there were roughly 10,000 patients living on the grounds. The Kay beard Building, or D building is one of only 5 functioning buildings left on the grounds to this day. This is where we investigate.
Eloise Cemetery is adjacent to the grounds and is not the final resting place for around 7,000 graves- some marked, mostly just patient numbers or nothing. The truly sad part about it is the rumor that most patients who died while in Eloise were only registered in death by their patient numbers. The deaths were so vast in numbers at times that families weren't told right away and records weren't maintained. Patients were buried with their patient ID as their grave marker- only the families of the patients weren't privy to those numbers, so, in death, the families had no idea which graves to visit, pray over or care for because of poor record keeping. The people, those patients who (mostly) had loved ones, were basically just lost. And that's why we investigate.
Snap back to reality. (Oh! There goes Rabbit) Coming into D Building was as exciting as could be. Looking at her facade she doesn't seem to be much of anything. But Eloise is a local legend for spooks and ooks.Todd and I met at the door and ventured into a dark building, which only begat more dark building despite the daylight. There is something about this place that immediately grabs you when you walk in. Sure, it's always a little nervy to walk into a known, more than allegedly haunted building. It's thrilling to think that you're not alone, but it's also scary. The easy thing is to say it's just in your head, Katie, you're making your own stomach drop with nerves (bitch, be cool!). But it feels like more than that. Three steps in and you already feel like you're being surveyed. I found myself immediately looking around more than usual to try to make sense of my gut. You can expect a lot of that here. You sometimes can't see as much as you'd like, but enough to further creep up the hairs on your neck. We got lucky with sunlight for the first half of the tour, so if you do come at night with a DPX tour, bring a big flashlight. Your phone's light will not be helpful. Safety first, y'all!
Todd's on a Spoooooky phone call
Todd and I didn't have any gear with us- no Spirit Box, No Meters, just my recorder, camera and our regular ol' eyeballs. It was a getting to know ya tour for me, because, as you know, I had never been here. So it was more about meeting the building, meeting Todd and getting a feel for everything this time. We walked up 5 floors and down one. We went all over most of the building on foot just seeing the sights and swapping stories. Todd immediately started talking excitedly about the rooms he's seen, history of certain areas, even some spookiness registered in a few. Regular urban exploring will make Eloise seem commonplace if you're just looking around. Inside of her walls are piles of glass from broken windows, shells of peeling paint all over, leftover board games for some reason, out of date furniture and even a sleeping bat. It's seemingly all abandoned building normalcy. Also inside, however, an endless parade of former residents, workers, loved ones, probably- the people and their energies. Despite it being just Todd and myself, the building is filled with people. And weird things can happen in rooms full of people. Especially if most of them are dead.
I was told that things move around, things disappear completely, electronics go dead for nothing, shit goes down. For example, waking through the floors, Todd pointed out a book on the floor. It's an old book. And old book that they did not put on the floor. An old book that was also not in this arrangement when he and the gang started working Eloise. I know you're thinking there's a window. Airflow may flip a page or two, but not completely repile a cluster of pages of a hard shelled book. Todd regaled me with stories of past experiences at Eloise, from both the living and dead. We toured the recreation rooms, the bathrooms on most floors, stumbled through where the hydrotherapy tubs were (and weren't, because they were removed) and some labs. We saw what appeared to be apartments for staff and higher ups, living quarters for patients and where everyone did their daily hanging out. Aside from a few eek! feelings it was mostly like looking back on ruins when lighters were attached to walls through an outlet and they thought a bath cured most things. (I still think that)
A spook: I wandered alone a tad on the 5th floor. So far, this was the creepiest part for me. Up on 5 I walked into Short Hall North for a looksie. As soon as I crossed the doorway from South to North I started feeling on high alert instinctively. Like a deer. Undisturbed, really, I kept looking around and turned on my camera. There were wings to each side of the walkway from the door, so I ventured around. I started getting that jelly leg feeling like when your legs surpass the pins and needles stage of falling asleep to actually asleep- you know, when you take a step and start to fall over some because your legs can't hold you up. Both of my legs went jelly and I remember the immediate feeling to look around from one wing to the other like monkey in the middle. It's well lit from the sunset through the windows, so it's not even spooky looking- just feeling it in your guts. So, naturally instead of fleeing or simply looking over to where I felt like I should be looking, I schlumped my dead ass legs through each side of the floor. After a few minutes my breathing was a tad labored- whether from anything paranormal attaching itself to me or from the extra effort trying to not fall over while I walked, I'm still not sure. I spent just a few minutes there by myself because it started to feel a little unwelcoming. But I shit you not, the very moment that I walked back through the doorway- gone. my legs were immediately normal human legs, my breathing filled with question marks but also better. I went from losing mobility and having to consciously tell my brain to move my muscles to 95% back to normal in the crossing of a door. That other 5% left behind was that part of my brain still waiting to catch up to everything. I think 1% of it is still there.
The basement, at the time, was only for the team and special guests because it hasn't been taken care of as much for safety, so trust and respect for one another and the space were of the utmost importance. You can see some of the basement kitchen and dining area in the video, as well as a few offices from the first floor that probably caused more than one or two people to quit their jobs. Fun!
The basement was extreme. You can see some of it in the video, but the weirdness of it couldn't be seen even in person. There was a heavy dampness in the air, but not in a moisture way. It just felt really thick, really old, a little darker than everything else. As soon as we got to the last step I felt like I was being pushed down. You know that feeling of takeoff when you're being pushed down a little and back into your seat? Imagine standing in that pressure suddenly. It did fade, though, once we got toward the kitchen. Downstairs was a working basement- kitchen, dining hall, some storage, graffiti. We saw a lot of pottery from the patient's art therapy classes, which I found really sad. There was SO MUCH pottery, so many unclaimed crafts. It feels almost extra emotional because of sadness and the currents in the air. Some of it was actually quite good, and Todd joked that I could keep it, but, despite my looter roots, I did not DARE to nick anything from this building for fear of retribution! There was a lot of storage pockets down here; board games, puzzle, a bone saw, piles of stuff everywhere. Just stuff. Todd said that he's heard things in that specific room, had some weird vibes. I said that we should open one of the puzzles and leave it out for them because they might be bored, but we didn't. Next time. But I do wonder about the boredom level in places like this. Do they know they're ghosts? Are they adapting with the times? Do they like Disney puzzles? So many questions.
After the basement tour Todd and I went back to the DPX office on the first floor for formal questions about Eloise, Todd's history and the team. It's mostly just chit chat but we did touch on some heavy subjects- more on that in another post. At one point we were talking and I heard footsteps, but I thought it was just Todd tapping his foot, until I looked and saw that his feet were planted. So I quieted down and waited to hear more. Which I did. I asked Todd if he had heard that- he thought it was me, I thought it was him, but it was neither. *Gasp* We knew we were the only ones in the building so we both got up and headed to the hallway where it sounded like they were coming from. It was not scary. We both heard these footsteps, we both knew it wasn't either of us, but it wasn't scary. It was exciting! We physically saw nothing in the hallway so we went back in the office to continue. Later we heard some noises that turned out to be outside stuff, security and I think a dog on the grounds? I'm not too sure I'm remembering all the reasons, but, like I talk about in my personal video over there, Todd spent a while telling me how weird it is here by yourself, and how dark it feels, and how he hates being at Eloise alone at any time of day. So then he left me in the office all by my lonesome after we just heard disembodied footsteps not more than ten minutes earlier! That definitely got my nerves running up and so as a result you can probably see my mind go wild as I talk to myself on camera like a dork.
The recording did not capture the footsteps. Drat.
I am definitely going back to Eloise soon. I'd love to come again during a big hunt with the public (part of each ticket goes the charity!) to feed off of everyone's energy. I'm sure there's less to notice because crowds be wild, but I'm always interested in the Agnostic front of it all- the believe it when I see it types, and getting a before and after. I think it's fun to be a small part of something where people are daring themselves to be more adventurous.
As always, I asked to not be followed home. It's good advice for haunted places, random streets, the grocery store...
Detroit Paranormal Expeditions (Check their podcast!)
Event Info and Tix
Click on Detroit News Coverage
What do you think? Would you do this tour? Would you sit in an office in the dark by yourself for any given amount of time in a haunted insane asylum? Let me know below!