It's something I have been trying to do for years and cross off my photography bucket list- to tour the historic Eloise Asylum. As I headed east on Michigan Avenue, just past Merriman Road the 5 floor brick structure graced me with its presence. Eloise Psychiatric Hospital has been an icon of Wayne County for over 100 years. During its heyday, Eloise was its own miniature city, including a fire station, post office, cemetery and many other buildings that make up this huge 902 acre plot of land. Today, all of these buildings are vacant.
Eloise has been closed to the public for years, but thanks to the amazing crew at Detroit Paranormal Expeditions, on October 8, 2018, my wish came true as I was given a private tour of the hallways and rooms of this amazing piece of history. Come with me as I take you on this very photo-heavy tour of the Eloise Psychiatric Hospital.
Humidity is high, temperatures nearing 80 degrees, and the sun shines brightly on the bricks of the building before me. While waiting for my tour guides to arrive, I take a walk around the grounds- even the outside is amazing. To the left of the hospital stands an old fire house, which had previously served as Eloise's laundry building. Today, the roof is caved in and the entrance boarded up with metal plates to keep people out.
As I head behind the main building, I come to the old power-plant and bakery that was destroyed by arson in 2016, now just a pile of steel and wood reflected in the partially flooded sidewalk directly in front of it. A chain link fence barricades off the area but it certainly does not obstruct any of the details for my photographs.
As I approach the building on the other side of the chain fence, the atmosphere turns eerie. Stopping and listening, I swear I can almost hear the sounds of the workers inside, and the huge machines moving back and forth along the tracks.
I head back to the side entrance where I am greeted by Todd and Jeff from the Detroit Paranormal Expeditions. I have been following their work for quite a while, so to say I am excited to meet them and be able to actually explore with them is an understatement. With the temperature still close to 80 degrees and humid outside, I stand by as they open one of the side entrance doors and tell me to go on in, while they wait for another person to show up. As I step inside and down the main staircase, a massive chill comes over me. The temperature must have dropped 20 degrees as I make my way to the basement- I can see my own breath as I enter the main hallway. With my #LumeCube in one hand, #NikonD750 in the other and my #GoProHero5 mounted to my head brace, I turn right to see a broken down gurney sitting at the end of the hall, with the words "I See You" written on the wall above it. Behind me at the other end of the hall is a break room and elevator, still filled with files, cups, couches, personal belongings, magazines and a whole lot of dirt and grime. It is as if time has stood still since the day the building closed, reminding me of "The Walking Dead," where the people just pick up and leave, abandoning everything exactly as it is, or like I have walked into a time machine and gone back to the years when this place was operational.
Inside the door shown at the back of the kitchen is the furnace room. Massive overhead fixtures and vents take up the entire space. Cleaning supplies still line the shelves, pans hang from the wall, all as if they are just waiting to be used the next day. As I make my way back out of the break room and down the dark hallway I pas graffiti on the wall reading "Last Days." I meet up with Jeff and he leads me to the kitchen; the entrance greets us with pealing paint all around, cabinets, stoves and grills covered in piles of junk, and a view to the back wall with an industrial dishwasher. The next few rooms after the kitchen are more storage and work areas, housing tools, file cabinets holding hundreds of index cards, medical records, and pictures.
As we make our way back up the staircase to the first floor, Jeff tells me about the bathrooms. The toilets and showers for the patients did not have any handles. Rather, the toilets had built in flushers that would activate after the patient stood up, and the showers were actually controlled by the staff members behind a metal plate from the other side of the wall, where the temperature and pressure would be adjusted. The first and second floor consist mainly of offices and other storage rooms except for an old surgery room of to the left hand side. DPE (Detroit Paranormal Expeditions) has an old photo of what the room used to look like, and you can see the comparison of the two below- the same stool appears to have barely moved from 1925 to today.
One of my favorite shots comes from right outside of the room to the right, where an old wheelchair rests against the paint peeling wall. Nothing says creepy like an old wheelchair!
As I make my way down to the other end of the long dark hallway, I come to the lobby area- where the guest registry book remains intact. The front of the building next to the lobby is home to some larger offices, which were more recently used by the county as office space, after the hospital had been shut down.
After visiting the front lobby we make our way upstairs to the second level. Up here there are more offices where the staff members worked. For some reason, this floor is not as damaged as the first. As we turn left off the stairs, there is an office where we find a picture of the person who sat in that office, in his office itself with him in the chair, and an award sitting on the table for his service. I wish I could include the photo here, but for confidentiality reasons, pictures including any people or medical records are prohibited.
Just outside of that office, there is an old walker in the hallway leading to the east side of the building. Jeff and Todd tell us a scary story about the walker. When they first got into the building and were cleaning out the hallways and offices, the walker was against the wall next to the elevator; a short time later, as they headed back that way, they found the walker in one of the offices. They were the only two people in the building at the time- how did it get moved?
We make our way down the main hall to the south end of the building and stop at a bathroom along the way-not to use it, of course! Jeff points out that he believes the second floor used to house patients. The reason: there is a bed pan cleaner attached to the wall in the bathroom, not something found in any of the staff living areas. As we end up on the south side we see more offices with the original wood work and the glass windows on the doors broken out. A few of the rooms look as if they had been staged for photoshoots, with red paint lining the doors and splatters dripping down over the walls, with the words "Broken Paradise" spelled out.
After that we make our way up to the 3rd floor, the housing quarters for the patients and some staff of Eloise. This floor gives off a different feeling, seeing these small rooms where only a bed a few other things would have been, and wondering what stories these walls could have told us. What was special about the person staying in that room we stood in, what was their history? In the center of the floor there is a general meeting/activity area which is known for paranormal activity. In the bathroom on the south end, there is still toilet paper hanging in the stalls, and soap in the dispensers.
As we make our way back toward the center of the floor we come to a common room, where the patients would gather and play games. In the middle of the room is a little chair desk with a single picture on it of a young girl. Standing next to that desk makes the hairs on the back of my neck go up. This is the area that a lot of paranormal activity has been reported. Next to this room is another open area holding many file cabinets and old chairs. Documents of patients and more pictures of loved ones and patients are scattered about. Showers with no handles are on the other side of the common area, where the doctors and staff would control the temperature. We then go up to the 5th floor, which features the same layout. The common areas are large and empty, the kitchenette still have pots and pans in the sink, and in the hallway posters against teen pregnancy hang on the wall. The bathrooms are piled up with a number of toilets sitting and rotting away. Just after standing in one of the large common areas, the battery on my light dies and the area goes pitch black, except for a small pinhole of light coming in through the window at the end of the long hall.
From here we make our way to the last stop of the tour, the roof! Before we get to the 3 stairs that will take us on top of Eloise, we see a room with a large motor and more storage in it. Around the corner, Christmas decorations are strewn all over the floor, including a tree with tinsel still wrapped around it. Outside, the roof gives us a view unlike anything I have ever seen. The north side of the building gives us an overview of the power plant and bakery. Just behind that, lights illuminate the current hospital that now houses psychiatric patients, and to the left, the street lights and buildings bring Michigan Avenue into view.
Eloise was home to over 10,000 patients and 2,000 staff member over the last 100 years. Just over 7,000 people spent their last days at this majestic building, despite all of the medical advances during its time. It was the first hospital to have a kidney dialysis machine and helped take the music therapy field to a whole new level. Many people still have stories to this day about working behind these walls or visiting a loved one that was housed here. If you are one of those people reading this, I would love to hear your story! This building has impacted so many people, and even for ones who never stayed or worked here. Help spread the word about this historic place and if you get the chance, contact Detroit Paranormal Expeditions and take your very own tour! The pictures do not do it justice. I would like to give a huge thank you to Jeff and Todd from Detroit Paranormal Expeditions for making this tour possible. Make sure you follow their page (listed below) for more information on Eloise and other great places in Michigan.
Detroit Paranormal Expeditions:
Link to tours of Elouise: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tour-the-eloise-asylum-tickets-50144629938
- Eloise Tour with DPE