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If you’re looking to explore abandoned places in Michigan, I got you covered. Below are my 23 favorite abandoned locations all across the state.
Abandoned Places In Michigan
1. Saint Lukes Hospital
Kicking off our list of abandoned places in Michigan is the notorious St Lukes Hospital in Highland Park. The hospital was first opened during the late-1800s where patients could receive crude but helpful healthcare. The church was funded and largely operated by Detriot’s Episcopal church.
During the early 1900s St. Lukes rebranded as more than just a hospital, but an orphanage and church home for the community. During peak operation, the facility could accommodate 50 men and 60 women. As the facility transitioned to just providing refuge for the homeless, this number would dramatically increase.
By 1990, the facility supplied nearly 500 beds for the area’s homeless population. After a hefty grant of 22 million dollars, St. Luke’s would also provide mental health services. Unfortunately, corruption and the declining neighborhood would force the organization to close its doors around 2006.
Today, the entire block where St Lukes once operated lies in decay and has been preyed on by scrappers and vandals.
2. Lee Plaza
Lee Plaza was once an opulent upscale 15 story apartment building in the 1930s, but it would quickly lose its grandeur. Named after the Detroit developer Ralph Lee, the apartments were ornate and decorated with sculptures and art tile that drew in wealthy residents seeking both convenience and luxury.
Lee sold off the hotel just a few short years after opening to a Detroit investment company. Unfortunately, this sale was in the midst of the great depression, and by 1935 both Lee and the hotel were bankrupt. With tough times on the horizon, many residents opted to sublet their rooms to others to help provide shelter and pay their half of the rent.
Today, Lee Plaza is a ghostly shell of its former self, but still extremely fun to explore. When I visited there were some areas that were heavily fire damaged but places like the main lobby offer a glimpse into what the Lee Plaza was, and could still be.
3. St. Agnes Church
Less than two miles from the form Western State Hospital is the ghostly DeJarnette Sanitarium. Founded by Dr. Joseph DeJarnette director of Western State Hospital, the DeJarneete center was supposed to be a more upscale facility for wealthier families.
Unfortunately for his patients, DeJarnette was an outspoken advocate for the eugenics movement. He was largely responsible for many of the forced sterilizations at both locations. The doctor was even quoted stating that Nazi Germany was “beating us at our own game.”
Conditions inside were unimaginable, as patients were seen as someone to make better, but something that was defective. DeJarnette’s horrific practices were justified by protecting the “greater good” by eliminating the reproduction of “inferiors”.
As the scale and brutality of the Holocaust came to light, the eugenics movement quickly lost public support. Soon, the theory was deemed inhumane and DeJarnette’s reputation was left in shambles. Surprisingly, forced sterilizations would be continue in Virginia until the 1970s.
Eventually, the state took control of the center in the mid-1970s, and much of the facility fell into disrepair. It was soon transformed into a children’s school, that eventually relocated to a new facility in the late 90s. The building has sat empty ever since.
The DeJarnette Sanitarium serves as one of the darkest abandoned places in Virginia’s history.
4. St. Stanislaus
Detroit is known for its bustling downtown, beautiful architecture, and “never say die” attitude. Even in the wake of financial hardship and corruption, the city has still managed to preserve much a lot of its historic architecture that makes Detroit truly unique.
St. Stanislaus however is an endangered church located in Detroit despite being on the National Register of Historic Places. Construction began on the Catholic church around 1911 and was finished in 1913. A few short years later a school was built that would use the church as well.
As World War II came to an end much of the catholic population moved away from the city and more towards the suburbs. This change in demographics would be responsible for the decline of the structure. As the congregation dwindled, the Archdiocese of Detroit closed the parish and sold the building to the University of Michigan.
After changing hands a few times, the church remains on the market albeit in a quite sad and crumbling state.
5. Fisher Body Plant 21
Fisher Body Plant 21 played an instrumental role in customization and passenger experience during the early years of automotive manufacturing. Fisher Body worked closely with General Motors and other companies to design modular chassis that fit the look and feel of different vehicle models.
Plant 21 was built in 1919 and was just one of 40 different plants scattered across the American Midwest and Canada. GM eventually merged with Fisher Body around 1926, but this wasn’t without backlash. In 1930, works would strike for better working conditions and increased wages.
Like most abandoned places in Michigan, Fish Body survived during World War II by adapting its manufacturing process to assist in military production. After the war, production slowly dwindled and the plant eventually closed its doors in 1984.
Even with millions of dollars worth of cleanup, the site is still considered contaminated by the EPA. Today, Fisher Body is one of the most famous abandoned places in Michigan and is easily accessible to anyone looking to explore the ruins.
6. Fayette Ghost Town
The Fayette Ghost Town is one of the few legal abandoned places in Michigan you can explore. Located right on the water in the Upper Peninsula, urban explorers can take a step back in time and explore some area’s original structures. Park ghost town, part state park, visitors can explore both nature and abandoned buildings. What a win-win.
The town of Fayette was first settled in the mid-1800s, where it played a key role in iron smelting and. Massive blast furnaces which are still well kept helped transform the raw iron ore mined in the south into usable products. In its lifetime, the town produced 229,288 tons of iron ore.
Like most towns that relied on a single resource, the town was hit hard when the iron market began to decline. When the work dried up, everyone left to find work elsewhere. While seasoned explorers who are out chasing grime might pass Fayette up, it’s still a great place for novices or simply those who love history.
7. Quincy Mine
In the furthest reaches of upper Michigan, the now-abandoned Quincy mine is a place for both urban explorers and curious history-loving tourists. Quincy was rich in copper, and quickly became one of the most successful copper mines of the mid-1800s.
In order to establish reliable and steady labor, the Quincy Mining Company built the town of Quincy to provide housing, entertainment, and amenities to the miners. Unlike most mining towns, some executives pushed to provide their miners with high-class dwellings with running water and power, which were usually only found in more wealthy homes during this time. This strategy paid off, and allowed the mine to operate close to maximum efficiency until the 1930s.
In 1931, the mine closed due to the price of copper dropping significantly. It would open again when copper demands rose during the height of World War II. After the war, the need for copper was practically gone. The mine closed almost immediately at the end of World War II.
8. Belle Isle Zoo
One of the most unique abandoned places in Michigan might just be the Belle Isle Zoo. The zoo was opened in the mid-80s primarily as a children’s zoo to teach the youngsters about wildlife and the animal kingdom.
Sadly, corruption ran rampant during the 80s in Detroit, and the zoo suffered a blow from the both underfunding and economic downturn. Numerous bears, monkeys, and other animals were relocated to other zoos in the area. The zoo attempted to reopen in 2002, but was ultimately closed perinatally due to lack of attendance.
Ironically, the wildlife the zoo tried to contain and display to visitors has now taken over the entire property. The zoo is considered off-limits, and is regularly patrolled by both local police as well as the border patrol agents who have an outpost just east of the zoo.
9. East Channel Lighthouse
Venturing away from the concrete jungle the East Channel Lighthouse on Grand Island is truly one of my favorite abandoned places in Michigan. Located on Grand Island, this ancient lighthouse first helped guide boats off Lake Superior in 1868.
Maintenance proved to be difficult in its location, and admittedly the light was hard to spot from its current location. Eventually, the Munising Range Lights took over and the Grand Island Lighthouse was decommissioned in the early 1900s.
The harsh midwestern winters would quickly erode the land and endanger the lighthouse. A group of locals formed a private fund to structurally secure the lighthouse, but keep its same rustic look. Volunteers even built a small break wall to slow additional erosion.
Photographing the lighthouse isn’t easy. Explorers can either access the lighthouse via boat or air. Kayaking is one of the most popular ways to view the lighthouse along with cruises. But that’s not very adventurous, is it? ?
10. Grande Ballroom
The Grande Ballroom was built in the late 1920s where it was frequented by the local Jewish community, and the infamous Purple Gang who ran bootleg liquor and other rackets in Detroit.
While there is much that’s grand at the old Grande Ballroom nowadays, this music venue was at the heart of Detroit’s music scene during the 1960s. Iconic bands like MC5, The Who, John Lee Hooker, Led Zepplin, and the Grateful Dead all played sets at the Grande.
The venue was eventually closed in 1972, and never really served a purpose after its closure. This left the building vulnerable to weather, as well as local vandals and scrappers.
If you’re looking to photography true grime and decay, The Grande Ballroom is a must-see if you’re in the Detroit area.
11. George Ferris Middle School
A majority of abandoned places in Michigan are in fact schoolhouses. This is largely due to the dramatic rise and fall in population when the automotive industry rose and fell.
The school was built in 1911 to accommodate the sharp rise in new students coming to the city to hopefully work the Model T plant. This was seen as a huge opportunity for parents and their children.
Like hundreds of schools in the area, student attendance plummeted in the 80s leaving the school shuttered by the late 90s. Today the school is a popular place for photographers, urban explorers, scrappers, and occasionally the homeless.
12. Packard Automotive Plant
The Packard Automotive Plan is by far one of the most popular abandoned places in Michigan. The plant is both historically significant and truly massive, spanning over 40 acres across two city blocks.
The plant opened in 1903 and was considered the most advanced automobile manufacturing facility in the world. During peak production, the Packard Plant employed more than 40,000 staff to assemble automobiles.
During WWII the plant shifted its focus to manufacturing aircraft engines that powered the P-51 Mustang fighter. The factory ceased production in 1958, with it being completely abandoned in the 90s.
During the 1990s it was home to illegal raves and parties. Since then, the Packard has been a playground for urban explorers, vandals, artists, and criminals. Scrappers regularly remove support beams causing collapse, making the building extremely dangerous.
Local gangs and criminals have been known to rob out-of-town explorers for their camera gear, and have even used the Packard as a dumping ground for bodies. Packard shouldn’t be explored alone and is considered one of the more dangerous areas in Detroit.
13. Book Tower
Towering nearly 500 feet above Detriot is the beautiful and ornate Book Tower building. Built in 1916, architects chose an Italian Renaissance style when designing the look of the building, making it stand out from everything else around it.
The building was a prestigious place of business until it fell victim to hard times during the late 80s. When the mortgage defaulted, the building was sold to a local developer who renovated the famous Cadillac Tower.
Unfortunately, he met untimely death which left the fate of Book Tower undetermined. The tower sat vacant for years until renovation projects kept getting delayed. Current renovation plans are expected to be completed by 2022.
While more seasoned explorers were able to access the property, this may not be possible during current renovations.
14. CPA Building
The CPA building housed the offices for the Conductors Protective Association, a sort of union for locomotive employees. Built in 1924, it resembles a similar style as Central Station that’s close by. The structure had a drive-through teller and a bank on the bottom floor when it was in operation.
In 2016, the building was slated for demolition but narrowly escaped getting wrecked after a public outcry. Nowadays, not much is left inside, but its architecture and abundance of light make it fascinating to photograph.
15. Michigan Central Station
Arguably one of the most iconic abandoned places in Michigan is the Michigan Central Station (MCS). Towering over all other buildings around it, it’s tough to miss this architectural marvel stretching 13 stories above the city.
The train station first started operation in 1913, where more than 4000 passengers would come and go each day. Destinations included cities like Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton, and New York City.
During World War II, the rail line was primarily used by service members. After the war, many travelers preferred the automobile over public transit. This caused a sharp decline in riders, and ultimately revenue for the transit system.
The facility was put on the market during the 1950s but was ultimately never sold due to the high cost of maintenance and repairs needed. Slowly, parts of the station would close and lines would be decommissioned until being closed in 1988.
Michigan Central Station was almost demolished in 2009 until Stanley Christmas sued the city to stop the demolition siting the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
MCS was completely vacant for years, but very difficult to access due to motion sensors and regular patrols. Today, the property is in the midst of restoration which might open an opportunity for explorers to gain entry once again.
16. Southwest Detroit Hospital
The Southwest Detroit Hospital (SDH) was opened in 1974 and was known for being one of the first hospitals in Detroit to hire and accredit black doctors and nurses.
Due to an overwhelming lack of funding, the hospital only operated for over 16 years until closing its doors in 1991. The facility would open up again in the late 90s, but ultimately close in 2006 for a similar lack of funding.
Today the hospital is a hollow shell filled with trash, inundated with water, and riddled with bullet holes. Of all the abandoned places in Michigan, SDH’s decay is one of the most visible. Graffiti sprawled outside of top floors is visible from the nearby I-96 highway.
Even with all the decay, some urban explorers claim to find old remnants of the hospital records, and hospital beds throughout the ruins.
17. Historic Fort Wayne
Unlike most abandoned places in Michigan, Fort Wayne can be explored legally and is open to the public. Despite being legal, the fort is massive and is a nice change of pace from the blown-out grime you’ll find in the inner city.
The fort was built in 1848 out of hardy limestone bricks that have clearly passed the test of time. Located right on the mouth of the Detroit River, the fort was in charge of watching over the border and the waterways.
The history of the land dates all the way back to 1000 A.D, where natives settled the area and constructed burial mounds of their dead. The fort played a key role in the War of 1812, operated during the Civil War, and even served as a final stop to Canada on the Underground Railroad.
While the fort fell into numerous states of decay over the years, the property is now under the care of the National Park Service. If you love history, and want to get your feet wet into urban exploration, For Wayne is a great place to start.
18. Stagecoach Stop USA
Stagecoach Stop is an old mock-western town that was more or less of a tourist trap for travelers along US-12 in the 60s. During the 70s and 80s more stores brought in additional travelers to shop the antique stores, eat at restaurants, and buy souvenirs.
Traffic dwindled over the years, and by the early 2000s nearly all the storefronts were abandoned. Today, many of the stores are still vacant but plans to breathe life back into the strip might be in the works soon.
19. Prehistoric Forest
What’s sadder than an abandoned dinosaur? That’s right, nothing. One of the most prehistoric abandoned places in Michigan is hands down the famous Prehistoric Forest off of US-12.
Built-in 1963, the park attracted travelers to view massive life-sized replicas of the largest creatures to ever walk the earth. Visitors could ride water slides, see the dinosaurs, and venture on their own jungle safari.
Unfortunately, as the interstate traffic dwindled, so did the number of visitors to the park. Business suffered throughout the 80s and the park eventually shut down in 2002. Plans are evidently in the works to restore the park, however, the timeline has been pushed back numerous times.
Ironically I find that the overgrowth sells the prehistoric vibe in ways that the park couldn’t achieve when it was open.
20. Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital
Built in the early 1950s, the Northville Psychiatric Hospital was considered one of the most advanced facilities of its time, despite the numerous reports of abuse and unsafe conditions for staff and patients.
Rumors state that doctors would carry out experimental procedures on the patients and leave them to live in deplorable conditions. During peak operation, there were over 20 buildings across nearly 500 acres of land that housed the state’s mentally ill and destitute.
This dark past has attracted paranormal investigators along with urban explorers that scour the ruins for haunting photography and even evidence of life after death,
21. Flint, Michigan
Just like Detroit, Flint was hit hard when the automotive industry closed throughout Michigan. However, unlike Detroit, Flint lacks the funds to maintain a vibrant downtown to bring in tourists. As opportunities dried up in Flint, its population fled to safer cities with more opportunities.
Lack of funding and opportunity led to thousands of homes, businesses, and public service buildings being abandoned across the city. Of all the abandoned places in Michigan, Flint is the mecca for exploration due to its sprawling ruins.
With little funding, many of the buildings simply crumble or fall victim to arsonists. In recent years Flint has made a push to demolish as many buildings as it can. Explorers who haven’t been to Flint should definitely put this location high on their list, before it’s gone for good.
22. Port Austin Air Force Station
If you love abandoned military bases, Port Austin AFS will be a real treat for you.
Port Austin was part of a network of different monitoring stations that scanned the skies for threats during the 1950s and 60s. These radar stations were finely tuned to identify incoming aircraft, their speed, direction, and intent.
Over the years the station would receive numerous upgrades to its detection equipment keeping it in pace with new and evolving aerial threats. Finally, the facility was closed in 1988 when its technology simply needed to be replaced in order to remain effective.
23. Wreck of the Francisco Morazan
Just off the coast of Manitou Island, the fateful remains of the Francisco Morazan rest partially submerged in Lake Michigan. The wreck is just one of many abandoned ships you can visit around the world.
Constructed in 1922 the freighter would set off to travel half a world away from Chicago to the Netherlands, but would never make it out of Lake Michigan. The deceptively deadly midwest weather would force the Francisco Morazan to run around in a shallow section of rocks just off the coast.
Today, adventures paddle out to the ship to see it up close or dive below the clear shallow waters to explore the rusted remains.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in Michigan, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.