Mellus Hospital Holds Rich History, Stories of Ghosts
The new home for the Brighton Chamber of Commerce has its fair share of ghost stories told by longtime residents.
The Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce recently completed its move to 218 E. Grand River, the site of the former Mellus Hospital. However, they may not be the only ones occupying the building.
For as many tenants that the building has had (see the table below), as well as the number of residents who can say they were born there, there could be just as many, if not more, ghost stories associated with the building.
"It's a former hospital, so whether people were born or whether they died, I'm sure some of the people are caught in between," Marianne McCreary said, who worked with Premiere Mortgage when the company bought the building. Premiere was one of the last businesses to occupy Mellus before the Chamber bought the building earlier this year.
The two-story Georgian-designed building perched on the hill north of town was constructed by Dr. Horace Mellus in 1931 as the first official hospital in Brighton. The hospital had its own morgue in the basement, which some believe is the source of spirits residing there.
"I think that's why you feel so much down in the basement," said Brighton resident and massage therapist Sandra Clapper. "My experience with it though, is when you walk down the steps to go down into the basement, it's almost like it's hard to walk down the steps because something is blocking you from moving and once you get down there, you definitely feel the presence of a spiritual being of some sort, meaning they brush up against you...you can feel them touch you."
Clapper considers herself somewhat of an expert with the paranormal. She often blesses people's homes and says she can feel spirits, so her experience at Mellus wasn't her first. However, people who haven't sensed the paranormal before have also been subject to strange happenings at Mellus, including former Mayor Kate Lawrence.
"I was getting a tour from (Chamber President) Pam McConeghy right after they purchased the building, and I went into the morgue, and I felt this eerie feeling and this pressure on my chest," she said. "And when I stepped back out of the morgue, the feeling was gone."
Many people who have worked in the building have reported odd happenings over the years. Tales of lights turning on randomly, files un-filing themselves from cabinets and mysterious, unexplained figures patrolling the grounds are just a few. McCreary has heard a few of these -- and experienced them -- when she worked at the building with Premiere Mortgage.
"I was there one time upstairs by myself, and I could just feel the presence of something around me, and I just didn't know how to describe it other than it felt like someone was following me when in fact I knew nobody was," McCreary said.
Even after she left the building in her car, McCreary said she still felt something sitting right behind her as she was driving. However, she and Clapper didn't feel threatened by these spirits, and said they weren't malicious in their ways.
"It's not like it's bad spirits though, it's not like they're out to hurt you," Clapper said. "I think it's just spirits who decided to come live there."
|Mellus Hospital Through the Years: A Timeline|
|1931-circa 1959||Mellus Hospital opened in 1931 as the first official hospital in Brighton. After Dr. Mellus died in 1939, Dr. Archibald McGregor took over ownership, and sold it to Dr. Anne Vann in 1958.|
|Circa 1965||After a few years of vacancy, the First Presbyterian Church next door purchased the hospital and used it for church offices and educational facilities|
|1977-1979||The building was known as the Brighton Back Door Drop-In, which was a teen center that included Ping-Pong and Foosball tables. Marieanna Bair of the Brighton Area Historical Society said she believes the First Presbyterian Church still owned the building when it was converted into a teen center.|
|1979-1989||The building served as a branch of the now-defunct Michigan National Bank.|
|1994-1997||Scott Griffith sold the vacant building to Aarn Rosen of Leah Gold Confectioners, who turned it into a working chocolate factory for people to come watch chocolate being made.|
|1997-2009||Premiere Mortgage Company bought the building in 1997, which McCreary said later became Envoy Mortgage. The company she works for currently, Partners Real Estate, moved into the building in 2008.|
|2011-||The Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce, looking for an expansion from their offices on Hyne St., bought the hospital and moved in near the end of July 2011.|
McConeghy said she's not worried about spirits haunting her and the rest of the Chamber. She said she'll believe it when she sees it. In fact, she seems to really embrace the building's history.
She recently gave Patch a tour of the white-bricked facility, proudly showing off her second floor office. The room boasts an impressive view of Main Street, as well as a glimpse of Mt. Brighton. She said it used to be the operating room, the same room many residents were born in -- and died in.
A handle on the wall by the door opens up into a chute, which McConeghy said was used to dump body parts from the operations into the incinerator in the basement, which is still there. Tammy Sexton, a director on the board for the Historical Society, backs this up, saying she saw the words "body parts" on the door of the chute before it was painted over.
The hospital closed for the first time around 1959. A Brighton Argus article dated April 8, 1959 provided by the Historical Society reported that the hospital was denied a contract with Blue Cross, although it didn't specify why. Marieanna Bair, the vice president of the Historical Society, said it could be related to unethical practices there.
From there, the building shuttled in different businesses over the next 50 years, serving time as a teen center, bank and the Leah Gold company, the latter transforming the building into a chocolate factory for people to watch chocolate being made.
Clapper said that the turnover rate for the hospital could be related to the paranormal experiences there. Scott Griffith, of Griffith Realty, owned the building between the times it was a bank and a chocolate factory, from 1991 to 1993. He didn't get any interest from businesses to rent out the space, but he didn't have any strange encounters there.
"I didn't have anything like that, so we never experienced anything out of the normal," he said.
Despite its spooky events, a lot of community members are happy to see the building in use again, since it's been vacant since 2009.
"I think it's a fabulous place for the chamber, it's going to be a great move for them," McCreary said.
As long as nothing scares them away.