Haunted Grand Rapids: The St. Cecilia Music Center
It's that time of year again, when ghost and goblin stories either freak you out, or give you the desire to explore and prove the stories wrong.
On our tour of Haunted Grand Rapids, our first stop is the St. Cecilia Music Center on Ransom St. NE. Is it haunted?
The St. Cecilia Music Center is tucked away on Ransom Avenude, just off of Fulton Avenue as you make your way into the historical Heritage Hill area just east of downtown Grand Rapids.
Rumors have circulated for years of strange occurences at the center. It is said the nine women who founded the Society so loved drinking tea and enjoying music there, they decided to stay, long after their deaths.
The building is currently on the 'Ghosts of Grand Rapids' tour which recently started their monthly walks through GR's creepier places. Those walks will increase as we edge closer to Halloween.
Eyewitness accounts of supernatural behavior at the Center go back all the way to the early 1900s and include missing items, an elevator moving on its own and female voices being heard in one of the rehearsal spaces.
I had a paranormal experience at the music center the in 2011. I was walking back through the hallway from looking at the tunnels that are underground, all of a sudden I felt as though I had a spider web brush my shoulder and arm. At first I didn’t think anything of it and kept walking then it happened again.
I think asked the people I was with if I had anything on me..turns out I didnt. I then talked with a the paranormal team that was with me and found out that sometimes when being touched it can feel like spider webs. I also found out that the hallway I was walking in had reports of common experiences.
Also the same night my friend and I went up to the ballroom. I was taking recordings as I asked questions. A few days laters I reviewed the recordings and heard a lady laughing. No one was in the room at the time other than my guy friend and me.
The facility does acknowledge it ghostly history on their web page, saying the problem was solved way back in the '20s.
Renovations in 1925 eliminated a troublesome auditory “ghost” by removing the skylight, closing off the balcony and taking down two massive pillars located in the middle of the auditorium.
Subsequent investigations have turned up little in the way of solid evidence. Investigators picked up voices on their equipment and some orbs in 2010 (they never said whether they were they were cold hearted orbs like in the Moody Blues poem), but the elevator and flickering lights were attributed to faulty wiring.
If there are ghosts at St. Cecelia they are considered friendly by the people who use the facility.
"I don't think they have any desire to harm anyone," Kent Philharmonic Orchestra president Tim Kernosky told WZZM 13 News last year. "If anything, I think they want to contribute to the beautiful music that is made here."
The 'Things That Go Bump' podcast begs to differ, offering up tales of
...haunting activities at St. Cecilia's include hair being tugged as well as jackets and sleeves, hair being stroked and disembodied whispers in the ear that include demands like, "Get out!" There are disembodied grunts, groans and growls. Shadow people are seen. Seat 106 is said to always be in the lowered position for no apparent reason.
That doesn't sound very friendly.
So is it haunted?
My visit to St. Celilia revealed a charming older building that has a personality that is quintessentially Heritage Hill in nature. Which means it's musty, dusty and has rooms and hallways that when not well lit can creep you out. Having grown up in an older home, I came to recognize the creaks and groans here as normal movements of older wood. Is it creepy? It could be. Is it haunted? I don't think so.
But then again, nobody told me to 'Get Out!'