Saturday, October 15, 2011
Kalamazoo and Ghost Tour, too!
(The Radisson, and old Brothel [in red brick])
In a city in Michigan called Kalamazoo (you've probably heard of it many, many times), there's a great group putting on ghost tours for a great cause. I love trying out the tours in any new city, and this one was absolutely fabulous! And all for a great cause. The GKHT hold the tours as a kind of fundraiser for Warm Kids, an organization that provides winter clothing for kids in need. It's fabulous!
A mix of history and haunted, the Ghosts of Kalamzoo Historic Tour took us around downtown KZoo, starting and ending in Bronson Park. Only an hour long, this tour is packed with information on a lot of great buildings and locations in the downtown KZoo area. I took three and a half full pages of notes! With six tour guides, my roommate and I were treated to many different perspectives and historical lessons on the city of Kalamazoo. There were even some things Crysta was surprised about, which is awesome because she grew up right next door in Portage! But I'm sure you're a lot more interested in what we learned about, aren't you? Well, let's get started!
(note: Bear in mind that this is also a historic breakdown of the city. Not all locations will have something paranormal attached to them. I included the most interesting from the tour.)
What goes on here?
I'll start with the Michigan News Agency. As we learned, it's the oldest newspaper in the state of Michigan (to which my roommate replied, "suck it, Detroit!"), and began its run in 1947. It's also the second oldest building in Kalamazoo. It was the the first place in KZoo to sell Playboy. The joke is that men driving by would see the sign, and swing a U-turn into the agency just to get a copy!
Did you know Kalamzoo has a mummy? Not only does it have one, she has her very own Twitter account (@KVMMUMMY)! This isn't her greatest feat, however. Apparently she is the cause of some of the strange things going on in the museum. She likes to turn on and off lights, and my roommate relayed stories she heard when she was little of the mummy moving things around and making a mess of the museum after hours. Tut may not have a curse, but does the KZoo mummy?
The first death ever on record in the little village of Kalamazoo happened in the Kalamzoo Hotel back in 1832. You might know it as the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Burdick Hotel, or the Radisson that now occupies the spot. You might be even more familiar with the Million Dollar Fire of 1909, which took fifteen hours to put out, yet miraculously killed no one. But that doesn't lend itself to ghosts, does it? Well, no, but the shiny new Radisson has its own stories to tell.
In 2008, the legend Bobby Hatfield was found dead before a show in his room at the Radisson. Since then, there have been strange occurrences in the hotel's bar and restaurant. No one knows for sure whether the culprit is Bobby, a homeless man, a mafia murder, or General Burdick, for whom the old Hotel and the new restaurant are named for. Employees and patrons alike have reported the jukebox turning on by itself, TV's switching on to static and glasses thrown across the bar. We were warned to be on our best behaviour should we spend an evening in Old Burdick's.
The oldest building in Kalamazoo was a brothel. Anyone surprised? Me, either! The building (on Michigan Ave), was built well before 1860, and it's believed to have first been a brothel. The numbers are still on the doors! Lights here go on and off, but as far as our guide knew, nothing further has been reported. Nothing sexy going on here, folks.
Almost next door lies the old Kalamazoo Savings Bank. It's not certain, but this may have been used as a mattress storage facility for some time. What is for certain is that strange stuff happens here. Some of it was caught on film. In photographs taken of the building, figures were reported to show up in the film after its development, but no one witnessed them as the photos were being taken.
Did you know Elvis is alive and well in Kalamazoo? Well, he's there, anyway. Perhaps not well and certainly not alive. But at the Columbia building, he is definitely not forgotten. Elvis stayed in room 201 when this building was a hotel, and while it is now a bunch of offices, his presence is still welcomed in the conference room. His name is on the door, and there's even a cardboard cutout of him in the room! Unfortunately there haven't been any ghostly sightings of the King.
In the late 1800's a man named Louis Shilling was murdered on Portage st. The police, using a brand-new technique straight from science fiction, took a picture of the victim's eyes to find the killer. They believed the image of the murderer would be burned into the retinas. Unfortunately this did not work. The butcher from Shilling's company was blamed, but as he was a butcher and the stains on his apron were not indeed human blood, he was released. The tour guide didn't say anything about Mr. Shilling haunting the area, but who knows? Perhaps he's still wandering around, looking for his killer.
There's so much more to say, I'll have to continue another week! It seems, however, that Kalamzoo is quite the haunted town! Downtown alone has so many spirits making themselves known! I definitely encourage you to take the Ghosts of Kalamazoo Tour, and experience the paranormal activity that floats around KZoo. Below are some links I think you'll enjoy, and will give you a little more on the history of the city of Kalamazoo.