Sunday, October 15, 2006

In Time For Halloween...Another Michigan Haunting

Another Michigan haunting to remind us that Halloween is just a scream away...

The house is gone now and the people in the nearby houses are grateful. They didn't like the overgrown grass, the broken windows, or the tortured look of the old brick and leaning foundation. They didn't like the cars that slowed down in front of the old brick mansion. They didn't like that teenagers trespassed on the property; that they broke into the house to vandalize and find a quick thrill.

The house is gone. The ghosts?

The house was built in the eighteen hundreds by Gilbert Hatheway, a smart New England businessman who came to New Baltimore to capitalize on shipping in the Great Lakes. According to accounts he was a stern man, with a strong sense of tradition. He was also a philanthropist; he shared his wealth with the community and became a welcome fixture in this growing town which was the halfway point between Port Huron and Detroit.

According to the legends, Gilbert had a daughter named Mabel who met a young man named Oren from Paw Paw, a town on the west side of the state, now famous for its grape harvest and wineries. Gilbert Hatheway disapproved and made his disapproval known. Still, headstrong Mabel went ahead and married in November of 1833. She was dead by March and some say the circumstances of her death were mysterious. One legend was that she fell down the stairs of the mansion and broke her neck.

Eventually the Hatheways left the old house and it passed through several hands, becoming in turn a bed and breakfast and a rest home or sanitorium. Through the years people began to hear things within the structure and to see shapes or forms. Whether it was the spirit of Mabel or perhaps the ghost of one of the unfortunates reputed to have died in the structure while it was a sanitorium, who can say? People believe what they want to believe.

One woman I spoke to, who considered herself a ghost hunter of sorts, related this story to me: "The former owner of the house let us explore. As soon as we entered we felt something wrong. Something cold touched me. Maybe it was her, Mabel, trying to communicate, to let us know the truth about her death. I looked up the stairs and knew that the heart of the house was its cuppola. Up there. Although I had been to the cuppola before, I couldn't go further. I was overcome by the fear. I couldn't go further. We had to turn around. We had to get out of the house."

At times other people have said they saw the figure of a child. Some have seen the apparations of a young woman and an older man, either on the front porch or moving about the grounds.

Legend has a way of feeding itself. The Hatheway mansion became the stereotypical haunted house and the legend made it impossible for any owner to renovate the old thing. Nearby residents wanted the house torn down. They got their wish. It's gone. The lot will be parcelled. New homes will be built.

But the ghosts?

If you want to see more pictures of the Hatheway House...go here:



Mone said...

I love the look of that old house. To bad nobody would fix it up... If someone believes in Ghosts... the land will be haunted also!

Miladysa said...

It looks a beautiful house, a pity it has been demolished.

Interesting story :]

gugon said...

Oh, man, that's about two miles from where I live. I remember that house - I never knew the history of it.

I wish I would have taken a closer look while it was there!

Anonymous said...

The Hatheway House, better known as "The Fir" was built by my great, great, great grandfather. My fathers name was Gilbert Hatheway also. My sister and I toured the house several years ago. I wanted to buy the house and fix it up when I found out it was for sale but unfortunately wasn't able to at that time. Tearing it down was sad and a great loss of history to my family.
Jan Hatheway Walker

Anonymous said...

Excuse me Jan Hatheway Walker,
my mother has always been extremely interested in the Hatheway house and always wanted to see pictures and hear the real story. If you really know the stories or know how to find the truth i would love to hear about it. Please just comment back on here. It is so interesting to the people of the area.

Sarabeth Samoray said...

As former curator of the local Historical Society I did extensive research on this home and family. This "story" is just that - a flawed piece of fiction! I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is waaaayyy off base here! The family was wealthy - loving and successful. Mabel died young but not by falling down the stairs! I think the story has gotten more and more off-base with the telling! The home became a girls school of sorts - not a sanitorium. A wealthy well-traveled woman from New England purchased the home from Evelyn Hatheway and re-named it "The Furs". Many a young lady rec'd a great education in the arts there. Get your facts correct please! It was successive owners - especially the last two- who ruined this house! That is the real tragedy. Their attempts at "restoration" -- well -just look at it! What a mess. Bit off more than they could chew. A HUGE slice of history is gone forever thanks to modern day greed and neglect. What a tragedy that is. There are ever so many stories connected to this place that are worth telling -- no need to make up this stuff. Why didn't you tell about the glass casket - the cupola - the marble bed in the cemetery -- seek the truth. It is far more interesting than this fiction.

Anonymous said...

ive been in there before it was probly about 4 years ago so i was about 16, i dont believe in ghosts but i cant deny it was creppy, the stairs were in too poor of condition to go up but it was weird cuz when u walk in theres a finished bathroom on your right then the rest o the house is old and rotten, i know kids who have partied there its not that bad just spooky