Is Allegan Jail Haunted?

Allegan Jail

This jail-turned-museum is as haunted by its historic artifacts as it is by its criminal history

Paranormal Claims at
Allegan Jail

  • The ghost of a little girl has been seen throughout the building
  • A little girl’s voice has been captured on audio recordings
  • Sounds of phantom footsteps have been heard around the sheriff’s residence
  • Strange, unsettling feelings have been reported in a particular cell block
  • A shadow figure appears to be working in the kitchen at times
  • Visitors report being touched by unseen hands
  • Strange streaks of light have been seen at times

Allegan’s Historic Jail

On a slim stretch of Walnut Street in Allegan, Michigan, nestled between several churches, sits what appears to be an expansive Victorian-era home.

But, this sturdy red brick structure has been far more than just a house. For decades, it served as Allegan’s Jail, as well as the local sheriff’s home.

Countless vagrants and serious criminals passed through the Allegan Jail’s walls in the early 1900s. Though it’s a local history museum now, some say souls from the jail’s past still linger.

Whether it’s phantom footsteps or the ghosts of small children, this old jail museum has no shortage of ghost stories.

Timeline of Allegan Jail's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Allegan Jail through the years


In 1906, the growing community of Allegan needed a strong, sizable jail to support the town’s police force. With a two-story sheriff’s residence in front and three floors of cells in back, Allegan Jail was ready for whatever the town could throw at it.

From the start, the new jail was a technological marvel, including hot water and electric lighting throughout. Once complete, the sheriff moved right in…as did the inmates.


Allegan Jail served the community for over five decades, but it was rarely updated in that time. As a result, the old jail was showing its age by the early 1960s. Additionally, the law requiring a sheriff’s residence at the jail was revoked. In response, the town replaced Allegan Jail with a new, modern facility in 1963.

But, the building’s mostly original structure made it ideal for a museum. The building reopened as the Allegan County Historical Society in 1964.


Shortly after becoming a public museum, the Allegan Jail building had a run-in with Hollywood. In 1968, parts of the jail were used to film scenes for the movie ‘Ciao, Manhattan,’ released in 1972. This would prove to be one of many film appearances for the old jail.

Along with operating as a popular museum, Allegan Jail has been in almost a dozen film productions since its initial closure. For the rest of the 20th century and into the 21st, Allegan Jail stayed alive and thriving as a museum.


After decades of success on lease from the county, the Allegan Jail was formally purchased by the Historical Society in 2011. Since then, the steady success has continued for the historic old jail. And the brick building may hold more than history – it’s been known to hold a few specters as well.

In recent years, it has been called one of Michigan’s most haunted lock ups. But, the ghosts who haunt the jail may surprise you.

Little Girl Ghost of Allegan Jail

While an old jail being haunted might not be shocking, Allegan Jail’s ghosts aren’t what you might expect.

One of the building’s most famous ghost stories isn’t about a prisoner or guard, but a little girl. Believed to be attached to a lock of hair found in a donated Bible, no one knows the little girl’s name.

Though no one knows her name, it’s believed she died in 1892, before the jail was built. Now, her specter can often be seen and heard throughout the jail.

She is seen as a misty apparition at times and often speaks up on recordings in the museum. Her ghost is also said to follow people around.

Allegan Jail’s Creepy Kitchen

Along with the specter of a little girl, there’s also been reports of an apparition in the kitchen. While this figure has also been said to be small in stature, many figure it to be one of the sheriff wives.

Wives of sheriff’s did the cooking for prisoners and staff as well as their family, so they often spent long hours in the kitchen.

Spooky Sounds of Allegan Jail

Strange sounds are regularly reported around Allegan Jail. In addition to the little girl’s, other voices are said to be clear enough to be heard without microphones or recorders. Phantom footsteps are also common, most often heard around the second floor of the sheriff’s residence.

Many visiting ghost hunters reportedly captured these sounds and voices on recordings and have noted communication through ghost boxes in the building as well.

Allegan’s Many Unknown Entities

Though there are a few regular entities around Allegan Jail, no one is sure how many specters remain in the lock up. Hauntings remain with no known source as well. In some areas of the jail, people report ghostly hands reaching out and touching them. But, no one knows the identity of this grabby ghost.

Others sometimes report eerie, uneasy feelings in the cellblocks with no known cause. Additionally, unknown spirits have reportedly caused strange light streaks to appear in certain areas of the jail.

Allegan Jail: Popular Local Haunt

While the Allegan Jail is largely dedicated to historical preservation through the Historical Society, they remain open about their ghost stories.

Ghost hunters have gone through the building in the past and produced results that have only heightened some people’s belief that the jail is the most haunted place in Allegan.

So, if you’re looking to learn a little something about Michigan’s ghostly mysteries, the Allegan County Historical Society would be a great place to start.

And, if you encounter a busied apparition working in the kitchen, maybe lend them a hand…they have a whole jail’s worth of hauntings to cook for, after all.