All Ages - Family Fun Event
Due to constant changes to location(s) hours, days and availability, please check the location website or contact via phone prior to planning a visit.
HISTORY OF THE MANSION:
It was built in 1864, originally as an eight room home, with the kitchen in a shed in the back. Different owners, throughout it's history, "improved" it by adding more rooms and the massive, enormous front pillars, transforming this mansion into a pretty big place. James T. Phillips, who had started and ran the Grand Rapids Clock and Mantel Company, bought this mansion in 1880. The Phillips family live there for 32 years.
Then, in 1912, Dr. John F Burleson and his family bought the mansion and lived there until a mysterious fire drove them out in 1934. One of his daughters was a spiritualist, who probably contacted the dead in seances held there.
During the 1940s, the mansion became a nursing home for elderly women, for about 12 years.
In 1952, the place was bought by investors, and transformed into apartments, to be used as rental property, as is sometimes done with large mansions. However, in 1973, after two women who were renting an apartment on the second floor, had scary experiences provided without charge by the second floor ghosts, who like to tease the living, the mansion once again was quickly sold into private hands, by Ward Paul and Chuck Schwander, who restored the mansion to its original and former glory.
At least three ghosts have made an appearance. Others may be there also.
1) In 1972, Miss Schwander and her roommate. Feeling that the mansion would offer a quiet, nice place to live, rented a second floor apartment, that had two bedrooms in it.
* Miss Schwander awoke one night, from a deep sleep, and was startled to see above her near the room's ceiling, a large head of a young, blond man, smiling warmly at her, as he slowly moved across the ceiling before finally disappearing.
* On another night, she was again awakened by a bright and blinding light, like a giant floodlight had been turned on. She became terrified, and ran to get her roommate. The light was gone when they both returned to the room.
* Miss Schwander and her roommate stubbornly stayed in the mansion, until 1973, when Miss Schwander had the following experience, that sent her and her room mate packing, informing the public of her experiences. Early one morning, Miss Schwander awoke to feel a strong presence near her. She turned her head, and lying next to her on the bed was a wrinkled, very thin, old woman, who looked like she had been sick for quite awhile. The apparition looked like a real person, but was deadly white. She was breathing noisily from her mouth, and obviously was in horrible pain, as her face was contorted in agony. Screaming, poor Miss Schwander ran to get her roommate. When they returned, only the old woman's head impression was still seen on the pillow. Someone who lived in the nursing home must have died in the mansion, or it could have been someone in the Phillips family.
2) Because of the publicity about the hauntings, the mansion was sold to two men who weren't bothered by the idea of sharing the mansion with the ghosts. Throughout the years of living there, they have found them amusing, as they mostly tease, and so far aren't sinister. Ward and Chuck started to renovate the mansion by tearing out the apartment partitions, and eventually restored the mansion, so it has its original, old-fashioned ambiance.
* Shortly after moving in, Chuck was in one of the upstairs bedrooms, almost asleep. He woke up real fast, after hearing footsteps on the staircase, which goes from the first floor up to the second floor hall, becoming louder and louder as they came closer and closer to his bedroom door, where they stopped abruptly, just on the other side of the door. When he bravely opened the door, nothing was there or in the house that could've been responsible for the footsteps.
* Ward felt something jerk his big toe, while he was lying in bed, reading.
* After the mansion had been redecorated, disturbances started in earnest. Thumpings, vibrations, and moving objects & furniture seemed to be the norm, with no rational explanation to explain these occurrences.
* Guests who stayed overnight were kept awake by bangings, heavy male footsteps, and the sound of furniture being dragged across the attic floor. They just wrongly assumed that Ward and Chuck were working on the mansion, and didn't worry about it.
* Guests over the years have also seen brightly glowing images floating around the bedrooms. However, each bedroom comes equipped with a large whistle and a huge glass of water, which supposedly will keep ghosts at bay. Ghosts are said to be afraid of water.
* Vibrations shook pictures off the walls, and contents of waste baskets would be thrown all over the room.
* One night, when the furnace failed, Ward and Chuck brought their sleeping bags down to the living room, but didn't get much sleep, because unseen presences walked around them all night.
* While having a dinner party one evening, sounds of a "shattering explosion" brought everyone quickly up the stairs, only to find nothing amiss. Everyone did see, however, a misty apparition float up the stairs after them, disappearing near the top of the staircase.
* Three years after moving in, Ward and Chuck were in their living room, when an older gentleman with an open, friendly, gracious demeanor appeared to them, standing next to the fireplace. He was dressed smartly in an Edwardian-style brown tweed coat, and was solid and detailed in form. He melted into the air when Ward went toward him.
* A few evenings after this apparition's first appearance, Ward saw him again, while standing on the second floor landing. Ward happened to glance down toward the entry hall, and he saw this same gentleman, dressed in his brown tweed suit, with his cane under his arm, and a bowler hat on his head. This friendly semi- transparent entity looked up at Ward, tipped his hat and smiled pleasantly, before walking right through the front door, seemingly at peace. Ward and Chuck have identified this apparition as being James T. Phillips, who had loved the mansion, and had died there in 1912. He seemed to be very pleased with their restoration work, and hasn't made another visible appearance. Ward and Chuck hope he comes back, because they would like to have such a "nice old guy" around.
3) Because the up-keep of the mansion wasn't cheap, Ward and Chuck rented a large second floor room to a friend, Rick, an art student, who used it as both his bedroom and art studio, where he painted. Some presence resented him staying in this room at first, but eventually accepted Rick as a source of entertainment, that could be teased on occasion. Rick learned to think of the presences as sometimes annoying roommates, that could be tolerated with patience.
* One night, after Rick had turned off the light, and had gotten in bed, something slammed his door shut. When he had gotten up to examine the door, it was once again opened, about 3 inches. There was no draft that could've reopened the door.
* While working on his art projects, he sometimes was distracted by loud noises coming from the attic. Once, he lost his patience, and rudely yelled, "Shut-up!" Just a few seconds later, Rick watched in amazement, as his red paint cup rose quickly in the air and dumped its contents on his head. While he wiped paint from his hair, his painting board arose by itself and whacked him on the back. Some unseen presence was admonishing him for his behavior that was considered an exhibition of poor manners and a lack of respect for the unseen residents who were obviously working hard in the attic, on their own unfinished perceived projects. Rick learned not to become angry, just to focus harder on his work.
* One early morning incident happened around 3:00 AM. Rick awoke from a sound sleep by a tapping noise coming from inside his chest of drawers. After turning on the light and investigating, and finding nothing, he popped back into bed, after turning off the lights. When the tapping started again, he didn't want to continue with this game, so he left the drawer open and the light on, a practice he did every night from that moment on.
* One breezeless, hot, still summer night, Rick was reading in bed, with his three Siamese cats sleeping on his feet. Suddenly, he felt a cold chill from nowhere flow refreshingly on top of him, engulfing him for a moment. His cats abruptly awoke. They all simultaneously looked at the same spot above his door, calmly turning their heads in unison as they watched something not seen move across the ceiling of the room. This presence wasn't menacing, just letting Rick know that he wasn't alone.
A big YES is in order.
The presences are accepted residents with quirky idiosyncrasies, who like to tease the living, but expect the living to be well-mannered and respectful.
All Ages - Family Fun Event
It can be found on a hill in the Heritage Hill section of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is currently a private residence.