Saugatuck, Michigan – Inside a dimly lit hallway, a door opens. Not an unusual occurrence, but when that door stops and distinctly swings shut, people tend to notice. Especially when that door is opened and shut by invisible hands. Inside, shadows move along walls without their corresponding people, and sometimes it seems as if there’s something in the high window above, looking down upon you.
Ghost hunters all have their favorite “haunts,” the stomping grounds at which they always get their best results. For many, those buildings are iconic and well known throughout the paranormal community. But for some, the big attraction in the backyard distracts from another site, less known, but no less active. While legends of the Dunes Correctional Facility are well known among hunters, there is another place just a stone’s throw away that has yielded some impressive results. That place, built by an old-world nerd, seems to be the perfect place for a hunter to learn his craft.
Dorr Eugene Felt wasn’t well educated, having only completed one year of high school, but he was a nerd nonetheless. He possessed a great aptitude toward all things mechanical and math-related and used his abilities to build the grandfather of a tool that most everyone has used: the calculator. His machine, which he called the “Comptometer,” was such a revolutionary design and concept that it made him obscenely rich.
In 1919 Felt used his millions and purchased a stretch of land upon which he was to build his new home. With his wife and four married daughters, Felt made sure the home was big enough to accommodate the five large families. When it was complete in 1928, the house measured in at an impressive 17,000 square feet with twenty-five rooms and a third-floor ballroom to boot.
It was the very definition of a dream home, one that Felt hoped would see his family grow and prosper. However, tragedy occurred when, just six weeks after moving in, Dorr’s wife, Agnes, died. Dorr was heartbroken and followed his wife into the great beyond eighteen months later.
The family kept the palatial estate for almost twenty years, but the Comptometer became obsolete. With the family’s revenue drying up, they were forced to sell their father’s home to the St. Augustine Seminary, who used the carriage house as classrooms and the mansion itself as an incredibly big dorm. It stayed the property of the Catholic Church even after the seminary moved, when the house became the residence of a large group of cloistered nuns for a few years.
Later, in the 1970’s, the State of Michigan purchased the house and bulldozed the old classroom building to make way for Dunes Correctional Facility. The main house became the offices of the State Police and for a drug enforcement agency, but the old house was beginning to show signs of age. When the state police moved out, the township of Laketown bought the land with the idea that it would be used for the public and that such a treasure should not fall victim to developers or neglect. The price they paid for the property? One dollar.
While Dunes has been a paranormal hot-spot for years, Felt Mansion has been the focus of many investigations, some of which have turned up some interesting curiosities. Reports of everything from apparitions to moving objects have been reported by many who’ve toured the building over the years. Of the events, three seem to give Felt Mansion its place in paranormal history.
The first is the appearance of what many believe to be the ghost of Agnes Felt, Dorr’s unfortunate wife who never got to truly appreciate her new home. She’s been heard walking the halls, both as footsteps and as a disembodied voice. However, it is her apparition that seems to startle people the most as she appears randomly beside visitors, as if she wants to have a conversation or some company.
The second most reported phenomenon is the presence of “shadow people.” These dark figures appear to be made of darkness and move like shadows, though not against walls and without a source. In the Felt Mansion they’re mostly seen in the third-floor ballroom, where some appear to sway and dance, while another seems to act like it is sweeping the floor.
The third phenomenon, captured by Jason Bouchard of the West Michigan Ghost Hunters Society, involves a set of French doors inside Agnes’ old room that seem to open and close by themselves. Below is a video captured on one of their tours. While some doubt the veracity of this video, everyone present when it was taken swears that it’s legitimate.
Around the year 2000 a restoration project began to return the stately mansion to its former glory. Now available for public rental, it has become a favorite spot for weddings and other large events. It is also available for tours, both private and group. As it does, in fact, now belong to the Laketown Township, all booking of the venue goes through the city offices. To find out more about the building, see additional photos, and read more about its history, visit the Felt Mansion website.
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