Nazareth Hall

The building in Grand Rapids known as Nazareth Hall opened its doors in 1928 as a Catholic boarding school for boys. The nuns of the Ursuline Order of the Sacred Heart in Toledo operated it first as a regular school and then, after 1935, as a military-style academy. It was the kind of place parents sometimes threaten to send their kids. The bell from the Ursuline Convent on Cherry Street was installed in the belfry, and out back a replica of the famous Grotto at Lourdes was built. For fifty years boys came and went through this huge building. Then, in the 1970s, financial hardship forced the sisters to close the school down. For a while it stood abandoned.

At one time, Nazareth Hall was at the top of my list of places to investigate. It has everything: malevolent ghosts (said to be that of an evil nun and a boy who hung himself after he was molested by a priest), a dark history, some substantiation, and--most of all--a big, historic abandoned building in which to spend the night. After a fruitless search for the building I e-mailed the people at and learned that the formerly abandoned building (which I first heard about through Haunted Ohio) has been renovated and turned into an event and banquet house. You can visit its official site here.

Although I never got to go into the building, I did hear from a girl who was inside several times before it closed, and later visited when it was deserted. Here is her story:

After Nazareth Hall closed down, my aunt and uncle and their three young children moved up into the 3rd floor of the old school. They were caretakers there, trying to keep thrill seekers out. The nuns had lived on the 4th floor, where their belongings remained, but they no longer stayed there. My family spent alot of time visiting out there because Nazarene Hall sits on some of the most beautiful acerage! The school is massive, and looks like a haunted castle. It has a bell tower, and a chapel on the second floor. An oval dining room that is just huge, with a giant bay window which covers the entire left side of the first floor. It is very impressive.

My family threw a surprise 16th birthday party for one of my aunts who is now 33-34; that would put me at about ten years old at the time. The party was thrown in the dining room. Afterward, leftover guests moved up to the 3rd floor to continue visiting. Myself, my younger brother and cousins stayed in the huge dining room. It had marble floors and it was fun to take your shoes off and slide aroung in your socks! As I slid toward the open double doors that led in to a lond dark hallway lined with lockers, I saw something that still freaks me out.

At the time, I thought it was a clown, but now, I am not sure what it was. He was young, late teens early 20's. He had curly blond hair that touched his shoulders. He was wearing a suit that was white and puffy with red polka dots, and a matching hat with a white ball at the end. He was also wearing wooden shoes that curled up at the toe. He TIPTOED from one side of the door to the other! I didn't know what to do, so I just watched until he was gone. I remember thinking; He is tiptoeing because he is wearing wooden shoes! If I scream, will he come after me? Will the other side of his face be ugly and scary? I could only stare.

When he was gone, I called my brother and cousins over to me and told them what I saw. We decided to join the adults upstairs.

After I enetered high school, Nazareth Hall was completly abandoned. No more caretakers, and so local kids would party out there, and look for ghosts. My sophmore year, a girl told me a story about how her and her friends were out there one night and saw the grim reapper in the bell tower, complete with a hooded cloak! I never believed her. Then, two years later, while working at the library, I stumbled upon the Haunted Ohio book. As I read the story about Nazareth Hall, I started to cry. She had told me the truth!

So, that night, one of my friends drove out to Nazareth Hall with me. It was still abandoned at the time. When we got there, we saw that on the very top floor, the very middle light was on, just like something you would see on the cover of a scary novel. We stared at the window, wondering how a light could be on. Then all of a sudded, this "thing" turned into the window, as though it had been waiting for us. Since it was dark outside, all we could see was a strong, dark silloette. It was a figure in a hooded robe!

Never in a million years, did I think that we would actually see what we went out there to see! I started to scream, but my friend said nothing, she just stared. I started to shake her, and she began to hyperventilate! We drove away, and still I cannot believe what I saw.

I have seen three things in my life, and two of those things were at Nazareth Hall, almost 20yrs apart.

Sounds like it was a really good one, although I might have been too scared to go inside after hearing about that clown. I wonder if the people at the banquet house see the ghosts. My guess is yes.

Click here to visit the offical website of Nazareth Hall



Reese, Matt. "Country Crossroads." Ohio's Country Journal. October 2003.