Dansville’s Octagon House: Haunted or Not?
I was asked by a few people about Dansville's Octagon House, that lies on M-36 in the downtown area. The exact address is 1397 Mason Street.
Built as a residence in 1863 by Dr. D.J. Watson, the house became a stop on the Underground Railroad. This was a huge factor in the decision to make Dansville the capitol of Michigan. However, throughout Dansville's history, many fires have occurred, and rebuilding every so often was having its toll on the town and its residents. With most of the town's money depleted, Dansville was unable to rebuild to its former self, and any hopes of becoming the capitol city were dashed. The downtown intersection, however, was rebuilt and from then on, Dansville remained a small town, never to become the big city it almost was.
As for the Octagon House, it's reputation and legend kept growing. Tales began to spread about slaves who had passed away as they waited to escape to freedom. Rumors say that many dead slaves were buried in the basement and their spirits haunt the house to this day. The house has many features that perfectly fit an Underground Railroad stop: the basement has a fake bottom, the cupola was used as a lookout tower, trap doors, and extensive tunnels. Since the telephone or intercom hadn't been invented yet, the house was equipped with long, hollow tubes that ran from room-to-room; these were used to speak with others in different parts of the house.
In 1986, the Octagon House was utilized as a water supply station when droughts were plentiful that year, with the military lending a hand.
So...is it or isn't it haunted? Some say they see odd lights coming from the tower. Others claim to hear some loud noises, like banging, scuffling, and different types of thuds and crashes. Human shapes and shadows have been seen in the windows by curiosity-seekers and passersby. The stories about buried slaves in the basement definitely fuels the fire about any haunting that may or may not be here.
Adults who grew up in Dansville recollect their childhood fears about the house, with some of them admitting that they had sneaked into the house during their youth. Most residents, however, are enamored with the historical aspect of the Octagon House. It's still in good shape and sits quietly, alone, and unassuming near downtown Dansville.
Is it waiting for something?