Feature of the Month: Haunted in The D

October is upon us!

And while some make a hasty exit to warmer climates, others pull out their favorite sweaters and celebrate the brisk wind, Fall colors, and of course – Halloween. It’s something about this time of year that makes us appreciate a riveting tale that we might otherwise go to great lengths to avoid. So, if you’re in search of captivation, disturbing backstories, or “haunted” dwellings, Detroit has you covered.

W. R. Hamilton Funeral Home
W. R. Hamilton Funeral Home

Long before Criss Angel and David Copperfield, there was Harry Houdini, the world-renowned escape artist and illusionist. A frequent visitor to Detroit, Houdini held his last performance in 1926 at the Garrick Theater on Griswold St. After falling ill during the show following a freak occurrence, he was then hospitalized only to die a week later, on Halloween, no less. His remains would be embalmed and stored at W.R. Hamilton Funeral Home on Cass Ave., a structure that still stands today. Take a fascinating tour

The Whitney
The Whitney

Built in 1894, The Whitney, now an upscale restaurant on Woodward Ave., was once the abode to the lumber baron David Whitney Jr. His first wife, Flora, died before the mansion’s construction was completed. Whitney Jr. then married Flora’s sister, Sara. Both would then perish inside the mansion. In the past, the residence has triggered purported sightings of apparitions, and an elevator that seemingly operates on its own… despite having no passengers. But don’t let these claims stop you from enjoying a savory Martini in their lounge appropriately named Ghostbar or experiencing the estate via the Paranormal Dinner Tour.

Haunted in The D
Detroit’s Eastern Market

Detroit’s Eastern Market is where folks from all over come to buy and sell fresh food, flowers, art, and more. Since 1891, the market has been a gathering place for friends and families. However, it was once a gathering place for the dead. Turns out, Eastern Market was built on what used to be Russell Street Cemetery. Between 1834-1882, the cemetery was intended to be the final resting place for roughly 4,500. However, the prime land would initiate the decision to make it a market instead. The deceased were removed and reinterred at various cemeteries including the historic Elmwood Cemetery. Get an up-close look at Detroit’s most storied cemeteries here.

Since 1919, the famed Orchestra Hall has been a pillar on the corner of Woodward and Parsons St. For that, we can thank Detroit Symphony Orchestra conductor Ossip Gabrilowitsch, who once threatened to quit unless his musicians had a suitable place to perform. The Russian-born pianist, who was also Mark Twain’s son-in-law, held free concerts for students as he was passionate about young people having access to classical music. Gabby, as many Detroiters called him, died of cancer in 1936. However, an encore would soon follow as footsteps and voices have allegedly been heard by guests and past employees. A “cold” presence and an apparition that likes to hobnob backstage have also been reported. Most believe it to be the former conductor. As a result, the “ghost” has become part of the hall’s attraction. And rather than pounding minor chords on a Steinway to frighten visitors, this spirit is believed to be good-natured – so much so that recently, the hall held a presentation called “The Ghost of Orchestra Hall,” a kid-friendly event chronicling the venue’s history. No one knows for certain, but perhaps Gabrilowitsch still roams the hall to ensure that young people receive the gift of classical music… or could it be for a more sinister reason altogether? Join the DSO for a family-friendly extravaganza at Halloween at Hogwarts.

Halloween is a time-honored celebration of the haunted, the paranormal and things just simply spooky, but our Hispanic community continues this celebration into November. Día de Muertos, The Day of the Dead, honors deceased family members with a two-day celebration. Experience Mexican culture with a trip into Mexicantown or visit The DIA for their annual Ofrendas: Celebrating El Día de Muertos exhibit.

The October party of all parties, whether tickets have been gotten or not, is Theater Bizarre, A Masquerade Spectacular, at the Masonic Temple. What an extraordinary venue of 4 nights that Revelers will experience. Friday nights are the exclusive Formal Masquerade Gala while Saturday nights hold the main event, Theatre Bizarre. Expect performers from all over the world, more bands than you can keep track of, circus sideshow acts, burlesque, peep shows and so much more all in one of Detroit’s greatest treasures… The Masonic Temple.

For more tours, events and amazing hidden gems in Detroit, check out our Arts and Entertainment page and our Food and Drink page!

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