Eaton Rapids — When Pam and Chris Sturgill first noticed the red brick mansion at the corner of South Main and West Plain streets, they fell in love with the structure. Not the fact that it’s said to be haunted by the ghost of Dr. Francis Blanchard, who plunged to his death down the building’s elevator shaft in 1919.
Though they don’t mind that either.
The Springport couple drove past the former hospital for years, admired its imposing presence countless times. This spring they bought it for $143,000.
They plan to spend the next several years restoring the century-and-a-half-old structure.
Eventually, they intend to open the house as a historical bed and breakfast.
As well as any ghosts that may live there.
“I like old things,” Pam Sturgill said. “History interests me, and this place deserves better.”
Known to most as “the old Stimson Hospital,” the roughly 5,000-square-foot Victorian-style house was a 20-bed hospital for nearly 40 years, under more than one name.
More than 3,000 people were born there from 1918 to 1957, and thousands more were treated and healed, the Lansing State Journal reported.
It’s also the place where, in 1919, Blanchard stepped from the third floor into an open elevator shaft and plunged to his death after finishing a surgery.
The hospital closed in the 1950s due to disrepair, leading to the formation of what is now Eaton Rapids Medical Center.
If you Google the Eaton Rapids’ landmark, you’ll read more about the strange noises, voices and happenings at the property than you will about its legacy as the community’s first local hospital.
Its new owners, the Sturgills, are equally interested in both.
Very little scares Pam and Chris Sturgill.
When they first noticed Eaton Rapids historic hospital, they didn’t know anything about strange happenings. They fell in love with the building.
The building stands out as you pass by on South Main Street on your way to downtown Eaton Rapids, said Chris Sturgill.
“You can tell it’s from a different era,” he said.
“It was actually for sale when we first saw it,” Pam Sturgill said. “But we were in no position to actually consider purchasing a second property.”
The Sturgills had a long-term plan, though. Pam Sturgill didn’t want to stay in her job with a local manufacturer until retirement, and the couple was saving money in the hopes of doing something they loved.
They didn’t research the building’s history, or its paranormal reputation, until last year. The stories they found, of noises that come from the basement at all hours of the day and night, and electronic equipment that malfunctioned for no reason, didn’t dissuade them.
It intrigued them.But when the Sturgills got their first look inside the massive, three-story house they didn’t sense any negative energy. They eventually plan to conduct their own investigation, but, for now, they see a structurally sound building that still contains features more than a century old, including decorative tin trim on the outside and portions of the Italian Villa-style porch that used to wrap around most of the house.
The couple wants to see any photos residents have of the landmark’s exterior or interior. They also would like to hear their ghost stories.