Monday, March 11, 2013

Ghost Story #4: The Buchanan Street Spectre

The Detroit Free Press, June 1, 1922

I suppose that for every legitimate ghost sighting there are a hundred specious ones. This one seems to cross both realms in that it was seen by over a hundred people but was apparently as nefarious as a sock puppet, having been born in the vivid imaginations of moonshine imbibers and pranksters.

Today, only the empty husk of the Craig's Chapel Baptist Church remains along Buchanan street between 31st and 32nd. Where street cars and automobiles ran concurrently along the bustling tree-lined avenue now only a few straggler cars pass by every minute or so.

Road construction along Buchanan Street circa 1914
The block stone street of the early 20th century gave way to modern contrivances with much of the tedious labor of removing the moldy blocks from the road being accomplished by thrifty neighbors who filled their sheds with the useful bricks.

The alley behind the church is thick with underbrush and pockets of grass poking above the cracked and separating concrete pathway. Trash, weeds, broken tree branches and wildflowers fill the remaining landscape in the moribund area buttressed by W. Grand Blvd., Livernois, The Edsel Ford, Warren Avenue and Michigan Ave. a few miles southward.

But in the waning days of May, 1922 a spectre hung over the area. A ghost that is, which materialized, spooked and tantalized the residents along Buchanan street. It appeared only at evening hovering above the back fences in the alleyway as dusk fell into darkness. As word spread about the neighborhood, droves of curiosity seekers lined the street with only the brave daring to enter the mouth of the haunted passage.

Each evening the crowds grew for nearly a week. Being that it was dark and the hovering spectre moved quite rapidly it left merely a foisted shadow behind in the wake of each passing. Only the sober and the quick-sighted were able to spy the phantom in its fleeting flights.

Five days after the frenzy commenced it culminated in a whitewash of spectators clogging the street and stopping all traffic for half an hour. When the police finally broke up the party it was determined that a hoisted nightshirt controlled through clandestine means was as much to blame for the commotion as was the free flow of moonshine.

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The Owosso Argus-Press - May 31, 1922

The Detroit Free Press, August 24, 1904 (enlarge)

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