“…And over there is the Felt Mansion,” My dad said as we turned onto the main road in Saugatuck. “I took a ghost tour of the grounds while they were renovating the place. Pretty spooooky.”
“What! And you didn’t bring me? I exclaimed. He knew that I thought haunted houses were cool.
“Well, I wasn’t planning on going, I just happened to remember that it was here. Maybe we can check it out later,” he added.
I think dad felt pity for me. My sisters and some family friends were going on a canoe trip today, but I wasn’t able to go because I had a summer class that morning and it was an all-day trip. My dad suggested that he and I drive down to Saugatuck for the day and ride the dune buggies and hang out on the beach. I thought it was a nice gesture because I never hang out solely with my dad.
“What do you want to do first?” My dad asked, changing the subject.
“I need to eat something, and then I think we should go on a dune buggy ride. Maybe walk around downtown, too?” I suggested. Saugatuck was a beach town, and there were a handful of tourist shops (the best you could get was a vintage store with weird stuff a poor soul donated so long ago that it’s been an antique two times over) among a large amount of uncreative, boring “painted seashell” shops (the kind that always seems to have white seashells as part of their décor. They exclusively sell beach-themed soap or ugly towels).
We found a Marilyn Monroe-themed diner and talked about when Dad went to the Felt Mansion over sandwiches.
“The tour guide said that the jail and slave quarters next to the mansion was where most of the hauntings occurred, but there had been sightings of ghosts upstairs in the bedroom area, too,” dad described. “The jail that was on site is now torn down, but mysterious reasons for doing so,” he raised his hands, imitating a ghost trying to frighten someone.
“I once watched a presentation by some ghost hunters who spent a night at the Felt Mansion,” I chimed in. “And they showed a video of doors opening and closings and this big, open ballroom on the top floor had strange sounds coming from it all night.
“Another man at the presentation talked of a moment when he was standing in the doorway to the mansion, looking out onto the garden. He watched one of the other ghost hunters standing, presumably talking, to the gardener. Later on, when the guy asked him what the gardener had to say about the mansion, all he responded was ‘what gardener? I was by myself.’ HE WAS BY HIMSELF BUT A GHOST WAS JUST CHILLIN’ NEXT TO HIM, DAD!” I exclaimed.
I looked around at the diner, a Marilyn Monroe cut-out listening too intently to our conversation. We finished our sandwiches and drove to the dune buggy shop.
“Do you know about the melon heads, dad?” I said as we drove in the car.
My dad tilted his head. “A little bit,” he said, unsure of what he remembered.
“It’s an urban legend about the mansion. Apparently these ‘feral mutants’ with disfigured heads used to live in the mansion, or somewhere nearby, at an insane asylum, but when funding stopped coming in, they were released out into the world. Stories exist of people camping in the woods around the mansion who’ve gotten killed by the melon heads—said they’re so crazy and hungry that they’ll cut right through the tent and kill whatever they please.”
Since my dad first mentioned the Felt Mansion, I really wanted to visit. The tales left me shaking on more than one occurrence when driving around at night in these backwoods with my friends.
After the planned activities of the day were done, we made our way down the quiet road towards the mansion.
“I can’t imagine that they give the ghost tours too late in the day, so I hope we can still make it,” I said. It got to be around dinner time, and nothing in this area stayed open too late.
We passed a sign: “FELT MANSION—TWO MILES WEST.” We turned left and continued down the empty road. I got a nervous feeling in my stomach, the kind you get when you can’t stop watching a scary movie.
After the road turned into what seemed like a driveway, we came upon another sign: “FELT MANSION: CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC.” Under that were pink balloons and a homemade sign that read: “HARMONY/BLECKER WEDDING.”
“Dad! It’s closed. I said, disappointed.
“Let me at least show you one thing,” he responded.
We turned the corner around some trees and came face to face with the mansion. It stood atop a hill, several of its ominous windows facing us. From our view, it looked to have three floors and a basement. I imagined the ballroom I saw from the ghost hunter videos through the tall top windows, and the bedrooms on the middle floor. It was a dull red brick building, with a large porch that spanned almost the entire length of the mansion. As we drove closer, we saw a patio & garden area that lead to the other side of the building. Dad parked on the side of the hill.
From our view, I saw a DJ unpacking his equipment for, what I assume was, the reception to the wedding. Outside people set up wine glasses at tables, and large color lights and a disco ball were placed over the cement patio next to a plastic square dance floor. It seemed out of place for me after hearing so much about the horrible things that happened in this place. How inappropriate to have a wedding where so much suffering occurred.
“Dad, I don’t think we should go over there, we’re interrupting the wedding,” I said hesitantly.
“The wedding hasn’t started yet, Karen.”
He climbed up the grass hill that the mansion stood on and walked over to the wedding area. Silently, we walked down the aisle, past the chairs the guests will sit, towards the pond where the happy couple, I assumed, would be married.
Still saying nothing, I followed my dad as he left the pond and walked towards the giant mansion. Ok, we’re probably just going to walk the perimeter of the house. That would be ok, right? Can any of these people tell that we’re not here for the wedding?
I looked up to see what my dad was wearing, but noticed that he had turned and was making his way towards the main door to the mansion. Oh no. We are not going in there.
He reached for the front door, turning the knob to test if it was open.
Inside was a fury of action. People walked every which way. Someone carried the wedding cake from one room to the next. A man in a tux fixed his bowtie as an older woman in an expensive looking outfit followed him, her hands flying in the air as she yelled at him. To my right was a room with a large, long dinner table in it, the table set, but clearly just for decoration. I could see the kitchen through that room with many people in catering uniforms who bustled about.
To my left was a large staircase that curved up onto the second floor. A flower girl in a yellow dress hopped down each step with her mother trying to brush her hair quickly behind her. Other rooms led to other places, each one with fancy people occupied with planning.
I caught snippets of conversations among everyone moving about, all presumably getting ready for the wedding. I looked at my dad as I saw him peer up the long staircase. I knew what he thought. Before I could advise against it, another man in a tuxedo answered his question.
The man in the tux walked towards the staircase, took a step up, and paused. He saw the flower girl and her mother come down the stairs.
“Oh, are we allowed to go up there?”
“Yeah, come on up. It’s really fancy and dated to the time period,” the mother responded.
We followed the man in the tux up the stairs, unnoticed. The second floor was only a long creepy hallway that led both ways with doors every twenty five feet. It was much quieter on this floor, like we were in a museum. Most of the commotion was on the first floor which echoed up to where we stood.
On each door in the hallway was a name.
“This one says ‘Elizabeth,’” I said to my dad.
“This one is “Agnes.”
“That’s … not creepy at all,” I said back sarcastically.
I opened the door and found a bedroom in pristine condition. It seemed as if it hadn’t been touched since the 1930’s, and someone had taken a lot of care in keeping it traditional. The wooden floor creaked as I walked towards the bed. The blankets were thinning from use, but weren’t tattered or smelly. I got a dark feeling being in the room, like the spirit of Elizabeth was watching me from the beyond.
“Hey Karen, come here,” my dad peeked his head in the room.
I followed directly behind him as we crept down the hall quietly. The further we went down the hall, the more eerie I felt. Old houses hold noise well and it felt strange knowing there were a lot of people in the house but not actually hearing them now. My dad deliberately crept along and stopped before an open door to a room at the end of the hall. He peeked his head into the room. I watched the back of his head as he leaned in, not knowing what he was seeing. Was this one of the most haunted rooms in the house? Was there some tidbit about this particular room that he wanted to tell me, but had to make sure the coast is clear of ghosts first?
Dad pulls his neck back and looks at me. I look back at him with a mixture of fear and curiosity on my face.
“This room,” he said in a normal speaking voice “is supposedly the room where the most ghost activity happens. This was the original owner’s bedroom back in the 1920’s, and some people claim to have seen a ghostly woman sitting in the rocking chair in the corner.” That piqued my interest. My dad walked passed me towards the way we came. I prepared myself to see something terrifying, or at least a little scary in that room. Would I be someone who saw the ghost? I tip-toed to the threshold of the room and slowly peaked in.
Inside were four bridesmaids in yellow dresses, already staring at me with angry looks on their faces. One has her hands on her hips, her lips pursed at what she just heard my dad say to me. They stood there in silence, all of them giving me the evil eye, but I could tell that they knew right away that our cover was blown and we were clearly trying to sneak into the house to find ghosts, not to attend the wedding.
“Uh, sorry,” I mutter. Before backing out of the room, I glanced behind the angry girls at a rocking chair in the corner near the window. Creepy, I thought.
Now that we had been discovered, we walked down the stairs at a faster pace, making sure to not be too noticeable, though. After exiting through the door we came in, we walked around the outside of the house. I saw the decrepit wooden building where they kept the servants, and on the other side of the mansion was a large dirt triangle where the jail used to stand, no doubt. After been given the shivers from the mansion itself, I was ready to leave.
For more information on the Felt Mansion: http://www.michigansotherside.com/index.php/paranormal/haunted-places-in-michigan/73-the-felt-mansion