MICHIGAN BELL TELEPHONE CO.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
This modern building, in downtown Grand Rapids, is said to be haunted by two very unhappy, and distinctly un-modern ghosts. These two spirit have wreaked havoc in this building for decades in a way that is strangely unique.... even for the spirit world.
The ghosts that haunt the building are said to be those of Warren and Virginia Randall, a once blissful couple who made their home in Grand Rapids shortly after the turn-of-the-century. In 1907, they moved from Detroit and settled into the Judd-White House, a once prestigious mansion that had lost it's luster and had become a slightly dilapidated boarding house. This was only temporary, of course, as Warren had a good job as a brakeman on the G.R. and Indiana Railroad.
In 1908, Warren met with a tragic accident and he lost his leg in a railway accident. It was replaced with an artificial, wooden one and this signaled the end of the Randall's previously happy marriage. Warren became strange and paranoid, often accusing his wife of having affairs with more desirable men than he. Their disagreements often became violent and local police became used to going to the Randall's house to break up their latest argument. Later that year, Warren was even arrested while chasing his wife down an alley with a straight razor. Virginia didn't press charges but later that summer, she finally left him.
One summer night in 1910, Warren coaxed Virginia into taking a buggy ride with him. Perhaps he hoped to convince her to come back to him, but no one really knows for sure. We do know that they ended up at the Judd-White House and had one last fight where in Warren took off his wooden leg and beat Virginia with it. He knocked her senseless and then proceeded to seal every opening and crevice in the room with towels. He ripped a gas fixture from the wall and let the lethal fumes fill the room. Finally, he took out the straight razor that he had threatened his wife with once before and slashed his throat with it.
The rooming house had been vacant at the time the couple had been living in it and no one seemed to be aware that they had gone into it that night, or were even missing. Next door to the house, however, was an office building and staff members there started to notice a horrible smell from the building about two weeks later. They eventually called the Board of Health to go and investigate.
Several Board members and an employee of the local gas company broke open the door of the house and were nearly overcome by the odor of gas, mixed with the even more noxious smell of decaying flesh. They traced the smell to the locked bedroom door. One of the men was lifted up to look inside through the transom above the door and was greeted with the sight of the Randall's rotting corpses.
The authorities were immediately summoned and they broke open the door to find two bodies that were so blackened with decay that they were only identified by Warren Randall's wooden leg.
The story of the Randall's murder and suicide became public knowledge and the Judd-White house was never occupied again.... at least not by the living. It was said that the house became haunted and people reported strange lights and sounds from the house. Those who dared to go inside claimed that they heard the sound of Warren's wooden leg thumping in the bedroom where the couple met their deaths. Others claimed to hear the screams and cries of Virginia as she begged her husband for mercy. Many who grew up in the area were told by their parents not to play near the abandoned house..... because it was haunted.
The house remained standing for another 10 years or so, when it was finally torn down and the land purchased by the telephone company. They built their offices here in 1924 and they still remain today.
Many claim that the spirits of the Randalls did not vanish with the removal of the Judd-White house. They say that the ghosts moved into the new building and remain there today, still plaguing the employees of the telephone company.... and the citizens of Grand Rapids. It seems that for many years, residents of the city have been harassed by strange, late night telephone calls.... which have been traced to coming from inside the phone company building itself!
Grand Rapids, Michigan is located in the west central region of the state. The Michigan Bell Telephone company building stands on the site of the Judd-White House and can be found at the corner of Fountain and Division Streets in the city.
Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor
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