Our First Anniversary: Day Hiking + Touring Eloise Psychiatric Hospital

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I crawled out of bed two hours before I actually wanted to, shuffled into the kitchen, and brewed myself a cup of coffee.  By nature, I am a far cry from anything that could even close to resemble a morning person.  It was the morning of our first wedding anniversary, and Luke and I were prepared to celebrate by setting out on yet another adventure.

After the hike I did at Maybury State Park with Patronus and my brother, Luke decided he was interested in checking out the trails there.  Luke likes to hike, but if our ascent up Sulphur Mountain is any indication, he doesn’t feel quite as rewarded by big challenges as I do.  Since Maybury has multiple different trails with things to find on them, plus just enough exposed roots, rocks, and small hills to keep it interesting, I knew it would be a good choice for a day hike.

After groggily putting on my workout pants, a tank top, a fleece, some wool socks, and my hiking boots, I was finally ready to hit the road.

We pulled up to the trailhead with plenty of time to hike and explore before the second activity we had planned for that day, a tour of an abandoned (and supposedly haunted!) psychiatric hospital.

It was the perfect day for a fall hike.  The temperature hovered just over 50 degrees, there was still a bit of fall color, and Luke was actually in the mood to explore a new trail.

Thanks to the breeze, leaves rained from the trees like crazy.  One of them tumbled down and landed on Luke’s beard.  I didn’t tell him until after I took this picture.

Since we had plans for later and had to be conscious of the time, we decided to take a short hiking trail over to a pond where we could snap a few photos, have a snack, and then make our way back to the trailhead area.

As we were making our way along the trail, a woman stopped to ask us some of the usual questions about Patronus.  We answered them, and she told us that he was the third Great Pyrenees she had seen in the park that day!  (Pyrs aren’t a very popular breed of dog where we live, so finding someone else who has one is always exciting.)

The three of us continued on our way, unsure if we would end up seeing any other Pyrs or not, until a little bit further down the trail, where crossed paths with a small group of people walking two Pyrs.  We all decided to let our dogs say hello.

Patronus and the other dogs were pretty excited to see each other.  The dogs sniffed, drooled, asked for pets, and befriended one another while the group of us chatted a bit.  Passersby gave us strange looks, so I kept telling everyone we were having an impromptu Pyr party.

Since I see Patronus every day and am used to him, I never really think of him as that big of a dog until I see him in relation to something else for scale.  He’s still only one, and as you can kind of tell in this picture, he’s already taller than a three year old Pyr.

The group of us joked around and compared notes on the quirky things our dogs like to do as well as all of the usual questions we get asked while hiking or walking around the city with a Great Pyrenees:

  • “That looks like a polar bear!”
  • “My kid could ride that thing!”
  • “I see you brought your horse.”
  • “Is that a white Newfie / St. Bernard?”

When all was said and done, the three of us made our way deeper into the woods until reaching a pond.

I hiked ahead a bit so I could get a picture of Luke and Patronus, and managed to also capture a single orange leaf falling from the trees above.

Patronus was really excited to get back out on the trails again.  This was his third time hiking in a week, and you can tell by the smile on his face that he was digging it.

Eventually we reached the pond and hiked along the edge of it until we made our way to a small wooden dock.

None of us had eaten anything before we left for the trailhead, so by this point we were all getting pretty hungry.  We decided to hang out on the dock for a while.  Luke and I snacked on some sweet and salty cashew bars and water I had packed, while Patronus had some of his favorite peanut butter treats.

The trees were still popping their beautiful shades of yellow, red, and green, but so many leaves had fallen over the past week.

After our snack break, we gave Patronus a few extra hugs and pets before hitting the trail once again.  I think all three of us would have been up for a couple extra miles of hiking, but Luke was a little concerned about getting back in enough time to eat dinner and get to our next activity, so we decided to hike back to the car.

On the hike back, Luke noticed a big, mossy hunk of concrete with a pipe sticking out of it nested into the leafy forest floor.  We’re not sure if it was a fragment of the sanitarium that once stood on the grounds there, or if it was from something else, but we decided to go investigate it.

This regal pose was all Patronus’ idea.  He likes to be majestic in photos.

The hike back was pleasant, but relatively uneventful.  Well, except for the part where I tripped and fell, but that just initiates me into the “real hikers” club, right?  We’re just going to go with that.

We took it kind of easy for the rest of the hike back to the car.  It seemed like so many more leaves had fallen while we were at the pond, to the point that it was actually noticeable.

All in all it wasn’t a super long hike, but it was fun to get outside and explore together for a little bit on a cool, overcast November day.  In total we did a little over three miles.

After the hike, Patronus went to his friend Fezzik’s house to play while Luke and I went out to dinner and our next activity, touring the Eloise Asylum with Detroit Paranormal Expeditions, a group who, according to their website, researches and investigates allegedly haunted places and tries to capture evidence of ghosts using audiovisual equipment.

Eloise opened in 1839 as a poorhouse, but later expanded to include a farm, sanitarium, and psychiatric hospital.  While the institution closed a few decades ago, it has a reputation among Michiganders for being one of the most haunted places in Michigan.  Naturally, because of its rich history and the creepy stories we’ve been told over the years, exploring the now abandoned building has been on our bucket list for years.

When DPX announced they would be running tours in the fall of 2018, Luke and I were not the only people who were excited about it; tickets sold out almost immediately.  I almost gave up hope that we would be able to go, but fortunately they added a few more tour dates and I was able to surprise Luke by snagging the last two tickets available…which just so happened to be on our one year anniversary!

Upon first arriving at Eloise, we checked in with the staff and then were sent to a room where visitors were able to sign their names to a painted brick wall.

Our tour began with a brief introduction as to how our time for the duration of the event would be structured, as well as an overview of the history of the Eloise complex.  While many of the structures on the property have been demolished in the time since the facility closed, our tour would allow us to explore four floors of a building once used to treat psychiatric patients as it still stands today.

Our group was offered a quick guided tour, followed by some time to wander around and explore on our own, on each floor of the building.  He also made sure to share some stories of anything creepy DPX had encountered inside the building.

The floor plan was similar on each level of the building, shaped like the capital letter “I”.

The first floor of the building had been converted into office space in the time since Eloise closed for good.  While many of the rooms still looked like run-down versions of their former selves, most contained desks and office chairs.  On one end of the building, random binders, pieces of paper, and office supplies lay strewn about most of the rooms.  On the other end were larger rooms, many of which had things written on the walls or were roped off with caution tape due to broken glass on the floor.  Peeling paint fell like leaves from the walls and collected in huge piles on the floor.

The second floor of the building was where things started to get a little more interesting.

On the upper floors, one end of the building contained hallway lined with smaller brick rooms, apparently where the more violent patients were held.  Across the from the tiny rooms were storage closets, restrooms, and custodial closets.

The opposite end of the “I” contained living quarters for the employees and a chaplain.  These rooms had large windows, closets, sinks, and space, as well as shared bathrooms with tubs and showers.

The center hallways each contained showers, storage, restrooms, a ward for sleeping, a shared living area where patients once congregated to watch TV, hang out, and smoke (there were cigarette lighters built into the walls), and a tiled surgical-style room where procedures and treatments once took place.

The man leading our tour told us that the privacy panels in the main wards (shown below) were not actually added until around the 1970s.  Before that, these rooms had an open floor plan with rows of beds.

Most of the wards where the majority of patients were housed were in large, cavernous rooms.  On the right side of the room was a doorway leading to a restroom, while on the left hand side was a shower area and racks with hangers.  The temperature and water controls for the tiny individual shower stalls were housed in a cabinet on one wall of the room so they would be controlled by the nurses as opposed to the patients.  A few larger shower stalls did exist with valves inside of them, likely for patients who were in need of assistance in the shower.

Some of the restrooms and showers throughout the building still contained old, discolored bars of soap, paper towels, and liquid hand soap.

The top floor ward was set up a little differently.  There was a hydrotherapy tub located in a large room that was connected off to the side of one of the wards.  The only thing inside the hydrotherapy room was the tub and a nozzle used to control the temperature of the water.

On the opposite wall from where I entered the room was another door, which led to a storage room.  There were many storage areas throughout the building that once housed records on the patients.  They were all pretty much empty, or contained random papers and books that had been thrown into the room when the facility was being used as an office building.

Luke found an Animorphs book inside one of the rooms.  Any other 80s and 90s kids out there who remember the Animorphs?

As the group of us stood in the room pictured below, our tour guide told us about an artifact they had found during their initial exploration of the building.  Apparently, left behind was a vial of medicine dating back to the 1920s that was then used to treat schizophrenia.

Many of the other people on the tour complained of a suspicious odor present in only a few of the rooms.  While I did know exactly which smell they were referring to (I definitely noticed it too), I don’t think I was as creeped out as they were by it.

Here’s a look inside another one of the rooms in which individual patients were housed.

Our tour was conducted completely in the dark, as the building was completely cut off from power, heat, or water.  We were guided only by the light of our headlamps, flashlights, or cell phones.

Luke decided to be creepy.  At one point during the tour, he was recording a video off in a dark corridor alone and decided to make some ghost noises as a joke.  A couple of college age girls overheard him doing it but couldn’t see where he was, and as I was walking down the hall to go explore another room, I could hear them talking to one another trying to figure out what it was.  Being the horrible person that I am, I just walked away and let them be scared.

The building itself had no power or running water, and the upper floors had not been utilized for anything aside from random storage for years.

The only area of the building we weren’t able to explore was the basement.  I’m not sure why the tour didn’t bring us down there, but from the rumors that I’ve heard over the years, it’s pretty creeptastic.

Overall, the Eloise tour was definitely a couple of hours well spent.  We learned a bit about the building’s history, we able to look at photos of how some of the different rooms looked at the time they were being used, and had a chance to wander around in the dark exploring the various rooms.

Did either of us find anything particularly ominous?  Nah, not really, but it was still a really cool place to explore.

I will say that while we were in there though, I did experience multiple maulfunctions with my camera equipment.  On the third floor, my video camera refused to continue taking video, our regular camera refused to take any still photos at all in several of the rooms or outside of the building, and my phone froze and refused to turn on until we got back into the car.  Was it the weather, a strange coincidence, or ghosts?  I’ll let you be the judge.

Do you have any Eloise stories to share?  Let us know in the comments! 


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