Bower's Harbour Inn
Jutting out into Traverse Bay at Traverse City is a finger of land known as Old Mission Peninsula. Almost 18 miles long and a mile and a half wide, it is unusually beautiful.
It is no wonder that J.W. Stickney, who arrived on Old Mission Peninsula from Chicago in the late 1800s with his wife, Genevive, chose the spot to be their home.
As time went by, the Stickneys prospered and before long they replaced their farmhouse with a home befitting a lumber baron in that grand era. It was a mansion that still stands today on Mission Peninsula, surrounded by majestic oaks and stately pines overlooking Grand Traverse Bay.
Furnishing their new home, Genevive had a special gilt-edged mirror custom-made. She was a plump woman, and the mirror was designed in a special way to make her appear thinner. Approaching the looking glass, her reflection lost pounds with every step.
The historic old building changed hands several times after the Stickneys passed way. In 1959 Jim and Fern Bryant bought it and converted it into a commercial dining establishment still known today as Bower's Harbor Inn. They sold it in 1964 to Toni Scharling and her close friends, Bruce and Sally Towner. Toni Scharling and the Towners believe that the Bryants were completely honest when they said they felt the house was haunted. The Bryants said there had been weird happenings such as lights turning on and off, glass breaking, and objects falling when no one was near.
One day, a patron of the restaurant came rushing out of the room where Genevive's unusual mirror was standing. Almost colliding with Toni Scharling, she was trembling with fright. She said she had been alone in the room playfully enjoying looking at herself in the mirror, when suddenly she saw the reflection of another woman standing behind her gazing over her shoulder into the looking glass. The woman was dressed in clothing from another era, her long hair pulled back into an upswept twist held in place by an ornate comb. When the guest turned to speak to her, there was no one there.
Since then others have reported catching glimpses of the spectral lady when looking in the mirror.
During the time the Scharlings and the Towners lived upstairs over the restaurant, objects were often tossed at them by an unseen pitcher. They might have blamed the children, but these incidents occurred when the children were not present. Objects would disappear and later reappear as if never moved. There was unexplained knocking in the walls and rapping on doors or inside closets.
These eerie activities continued long after Toni and her friends sold the restaurant.
Ernest Hall denied believing in ghosts, but he could offer no other explanation for some of the things that took place there in the late 1970s when he was acting manager.
The door leading into the upstairs ladies' room always caught on the carpeting, making it difficult to open and close. Yet, at night, after the restaurant was closed and Ernest Hall was alone in the building, the door would suddenly slam shut with a bang, although no one had been anywhere near it.
The story above was excerpted from "Michigan Haunts and Hauntings" by Marion Kuclo.
Odd things are indeed still occurring at Bower's Harbor Inn. Office Manager David Springer said that the restaurant's gardener was working on Sept. 11 near the same rest room door that slammed for no apparent reason years before, and she noticed that it was partially open. As the gardener wondered if she would have to fix the door - which had been equipped with automatic closure springs - she watched the door close by itself. Springer said he tested the door's ability to remain open on its own, but "there was no way that could have happened," he said. "Maybe it's just a freak of nature, because I don't want to believe in ghosts. I try to be agnostic about it, but it's just bizarre."
Springer added that the hands on the grandfather clock downstairs moved 25 minutes ahead while he took a 5-minute call. "All I know is that the pranks are always friendly," Springer said.
Kuclo wrote that she thought the occurrences sounded more like they were committed by a combination of shades and poltergeists.
"It's a ghost, I would say," said Greg Froelich, the general manager at Bower's Harbor Inn. "There's a possibility there might be a child. A lot of the things that have happened are very childish pranks." He said that Mrs. Stickney ran a summer program for children from Chicago, and one may have died during one year. Candles have been found lit in the morning after the restaurant had been closed up all night and clipboards that are set down in one place somehow creep to different locations.
"When you're here by yourself it can be freaky," Froelich said. "I never believed the candle story until it happened to me. It made the hair on the back of my head stand up."
This update was written by Melanie Feliciano, Michigan Live Writer/Producer.
Directions to Bower's Harbor Inn: Take Highway 37 north to Peninsula Drive and make a left on Bower's Harbor Road. 2600 Bower's Harbor Rd. Old Mission, MI 49673