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12 Jun 2010


Is Otsego Lake Inn haunted by past residents?

Lorene Parshall
Staff Writer

The historic Otsego Lake Inn is sometimes rented out for occasions such as family reunions, but it is presently undergoing renovations and the addition of more antiques.

Do you believe in ghosts? The Mid-Michigan Paranormal Investigators do, but only if they can prove it scientifically.

Using “state-of-the-art” equipment such as split screen monitors, infrared cameras and high-tech audio recorders, the team works to capture the sights and sounds of apparitions at locations reported to be haunted.

According to Matt Moyer, lead investigator, if they can’t record it, it didn’t happen.“We probably have the most equipment of any investigators in the state,” said Moyer. “We don’t talk to each other during an investigation. If we hear or see something we write it down and discuss it after as a group. That’s to avoid the power of suggestion or mass hysteria. Sometimes we hear or see the same things but if we don’t capture it on the equipment, we don’t consider it proven.”

The most recent haunting they’ve investigated is at the old historic Otsego Lake Inn, 7441 1st Court St., one block off  Old 27 South. The inn was once the Otsego County Courthouse when the Village of Otsego Lake was the county seat. Research suggests the building also has been a community center, dance hall, restaurant, tavern, funeral home and brothel at different periods.

Rumors have circulated among neighbors for years about the ghosts at the old inn. One of the most prevalent is that an influenza epidemic swept the county when it was a brothel and some of the girls died. The speculation is that it is those young women who haunt the inn.

“I have a very good researcher and he could find no record of the epidemic,” said Moyer. “He did locate information that the Inn had been a brothel twice, during World War I and again during World War II.”

Moyer, and his wife, Melanie, co-founder and also a lead investigator for the team, have been in the paranormal business for seven years. Their interest in haunting was motivated by frightening phenomena they experienced in a home they’d bought downstate nine years ago.

“The lights and stereo kept coming on and going off by themselves,” Moyer said. “The motors on appliances kept exploding. I’m an electrician and I had new transformers installed outside and the entire house rewired because I thought it was an electrical problem. It still kept happening. A washer motor spun out and it was empty; we weren’t running it. Then the children started to be affected. Their sliding windows would shake and start to open and close. They saw shadows outside their windows that scared them. We loved that house, but we had to give it up.”

The team that investigated the Otsego Lake Inn were composed of Moyer, his wife; Steve Allen of Vanderbilt, investigator and cameraman; Lynn Hays, an investigator from Holly; and psychic Tammey Schuster of Traverse City. Herald Times photographer, Bill Serveny, was invited along to document the investigation.

“A few things happened in the upstairs that we can’t explain,” Moyer reported. “We heard the voices of two different women. One of them chuckled, like she was laughing at us, but in a calm, friendly way. Another said ‘Yeah,’ when I asked a question. But we didn’t capture it on our equipment so, as far as we’re concerned, it hasn’t been proven. I’d like to go back and try again to see if we can capture it.”

The voices were confirmed by one of the other investigators. Allen, a stained-glass artist and postal worker, was upstairs with Moyer at the time.

“We were on the second floor, which has multiple rooms,” Allen said. “Matt did a ‘call and response,’ where you call out a question to see if you get a response. Everybody in the hall heard the voices. We all said, ‘Did you hear that?’”

One mysterious occurrence which, no doubt, has a logical technical explanation, is a photograph taken by the Herald Times photographer that day. Serveny took three photos of Moyer sitting in the dark, recording something on his laptop. Two of the photos turned out fine, but one looked like a double exposure of Moyer with a strange swirl of light connecting the two images.

A professional photographer for 40 years, Serveny is adamant he did not take a double exposure, which can’t be done accidentally on a digital camera, but requires the changing of settings. Although he can’t explain what did happen, he insisted it wasn’t anything he’d done on purpose.

The Otsego Lake Inn is owned by Tracy and Charles Booth. They live downstate but spend extensive time at the inn with their extended family.

Tracy and her husband were outside the inn during the investigation. She found the idea of having the paranormal team there to be “fun,” but thinks many of the old rumors about the inn are exaggerated.

“Do I think the house is haunted?” Tracy asked, rhetorically. “No. But I certainly have had spiritual experiences there with loved ones who’ve passed; my mother, my father, my grandparents — the sort of things that happen to a lot of people — you’re thinking or praying about someone who is gone and suddenly a bulb burns out or something and you think it might be a sign from them.

“The psychic told me that she picked up a lot of happy feelings as she went through the inn,” Tracy continued. “My family has been connected to Otsego Lake for seven generations. My great-grandmother played piano everyday until she died, back when the inn was a community center. We’ve owned it for 21 years, and we’ve been very, very happy there.”

Although they’re not taking reservations now, as they are in the midst of extensive renovations, the Booths sometimes rent out the inn for events like family reunions. To learn more about the inn and view photos of the exterior and interior, visit www.otsegolakeinn.com.

According to Moyer, Mid-Michigan Paranormal Investigators do not charge for their services or accept donations, wanting only to help spare others from the activities they experienced in their haunted house.

To learn more about the investigators and to see and hear the sights and sounds that Moyer believes are of apparitions captured by the team at haunted locations in several states, visit www.midmipi.com.

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