TRAVERSE CITY — Lori Taylor-Blitz doesn't have any ghost stories to show for her time at the Beaver Island Historical Society museum, but that could change in a few weeks.
Taylor-Blitz, the museum's director, will welcome Detroit Paranormal Expeditions to Beaver Island for an evening stint inside the historical society. The Detroit-based group will head north on May 13 equipped with voice recorders, infrared cameras and other tools to investigate potential hauntings.
"They’ll be here from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.," Taylor-Blitz said. "Who knows what they’ll find?"
Co-founder Jeff Adkins said the investigation will be the group's first in northern Michigan since he and Todd Bonner launched Detroit Paranormal Expeditions a year ago. Adkins said they look for places that haven't been investigated and were drawn to Beaver Island's rich history.
"It has a really colorful history, and places like that tend to have energy sticking around," he said. "If no one’s been there trying to interact with spirits, it could be more active."
Adkins plans to ask questions tied to the island's logging and fishing history and see what provokes a reaction. He'll also touch on James Strang, a prominent Mormon leader with a cult-like following on Beaver Island. The group will later comb through video and audio recordings taken throughout the night for answers.
"You pick up voices you don’t hear in the moment," Adkins said. "We capture audio much more frequently than video."
He admitted the group can disprove many recordings they capture but said videos — though rare — are more convincing.
"It would be incredible if we could get some video of shadow activity," he said.
The group will present their findings July 21 at Beaver Island Historical Society's Museum Week. Taylor-Blitz said the presentation is not meant to interpret the island's history.
"It’s just a way to have fun," Taylor-Blitz said. "Whether you believe or you don’t believe, it’s still something you’re curious about just to see what happens."
The paranormal investigation is far from the first of its kind in northern Michigan. Recordings and photographs from a similar investigation of Kalkaska's Sieting Hotel turned Jeff Sieting into a firm believer of ghosts.
"I know now from personal experience that something genuinely exists," Sieting said. "I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is something else there."
His great-great-uncle, John, erected the two-story Sieting Hotel in 1912, replacing the former Manning House Hotel destroyed in a fire two years prior. He sold the hotel in 1914, and it remained outside the family until Jeff Sieting bought it in 2011. He was a year into remodeling the hotel when a paranormal investigations team approached them.
"They asked if it was haunted and wanted to take some pictures and recordings," Sieting said. "I didn't expect to hear anything back."
He was shocked to receive photos a few days later of full-bodied figures in the hotel, including one in the basement of a man staring into the camera.
"It made the hair stand up on the back of your neck," Sieting said.
A followup audio session revealed several voice recordings, including one of what sounded like an argument in the hotel's saloon that lasted around 45 seconds, he said. The voices bickered in thick accents Sieting deemed Italian or French.
Sieting followed up with sporadic recordings of his own in the hotel, which has since garnered attention from other ghost enthusiasts in the region hoping to explore it.
"A lot of people want to go in there to ghost hunt, but I try to keep it somewhat limited," he said. "I don't have much interest in having people come do that."
He did allow the Michigan Area Paranormal Investigations Team into the hotel twice for video and audio sessions. The Traverse City-based group investigates spooky spaces in the region for mysterious activity and unexplained phenomena — including stints in the City Opera House, Carnegie Library and Blue Pelican Inn.
Sieting said he otherwise is more concerned with renovating the building than the ghosts inside it. He plans to turn the hotel into a mall of boutiques, gift shops and maybe a cafe in a longstanding project he expects to take at least another few years. But he is intrigued by what paranormal investigations have taught him about the building's history.
"I look at it from a historical perspective," Sieting said. "It’s interesting to think that there really could be something there."