Battle Creek’s Haunted Hotspots
Chances are you’ve driven by some of Battle Creek’s hotspots of long ago, and didn’t notice. The old buildings are like that important memo tacked up on the bulletin board at work ---they become invisible after a while. Some of these old “haunts” are just vacant lots now. Some of the old places are still standing, just waiting to be brought back to life, or given a merciful death. In the meantime, we hear stories of ghosts still lingering in some of the old places.
#1 The El Grotto Lounge. 84 Kendall Street. Most recently known as “Colors on the Corner”, the El Grotto was a legendary hot spot in Battle Creek, where such artists as Junior Walker, Earth Wind and Fire’s Wade Flemons, Jackie Beavers and even Al Green all played. It was “Motown West”.
#2 Vonna’s Lounge. 460 West Michigan Avenue. An old-style Jazz Nightclub that
featured the likes of Battle Creek’s Bill Dowdy of the legendary “Three Sounds”, pianist Eddie Russ, singer Betty Joplin and nationally known acts such as Brother Jack McDuff. If you stop by and listen closely, you might still hear the ornery McDuff barking commands at the band from behind his Hammond B3 organ.
#3 Del Rae’s. 1399 East Michigan. Ok, maybe not a “Hotspot” in the traditional Nightclub sense. But it was right next to Emilio’s Restaurant, and they say if you stop and smell the air, your nose will twitch from the hot chili pepper dust still present after all these years.
#4 The Sports Page, 225 West Michigan. This was definitely a “Hot Spot” five years ago when the building caught fire. It’s just a vacant lot now, but it could well be haunted. They say if you listen closely, you can hear the moaning of the many creditors of the former owners.
#5 The Hunt Club, 544 West Michigan. Most recently Moonraker West, the Hunt Club started as a small “hole-in-the-wall” place, located just west of the current building. It recently closed, but rumors are that it will re-open soon under new ownership. But if you listen closely in that parking lot, they say you can hear the high-pitched whine of the gnarly stuffed fox, presiding over the patrons of the Hunt Club for many decades.
#6 The Ball Joint, 4720 Beckley Road. Maybe it was just bad timing, but this
giant sports bar and pizza joint never really caught on. But there is definitely a “spirit” floating around in there, the Holy Spirit. The building is now the First Pentecostal Family Worship Center.
#7 Don Pablo’s, 5805 Beckley Road. The Mexican restaurant where you could still get a grape Nehi soda has been closed for a while, but if you stop and listen to the wind whistling through the many trees----oh wait, that’s right, they cut them all down, along with a whole bunch that weren’t even on their property. Ok…maybe it’s not haunted, but there’s definitely some bad karma there.
#8 The Mar-Creek Bar. Michigan Avenue at 12 Mile Road, Ceresco. There’s nothing
left now, except a little pavement and the shell of an old payphone. But this old watering hole went back a long way, and was a welcome rest stop, back when there was no I-94. It was a great place for local bands to score a weekend gig, and a nice central location for meet-ups between Battle Creek and Marshall. If you needed an out-of-the way place, the Mar-Creek was it. Oh, if those walls could talk…..except there aren’t any walls anymore.
#9 Bobby’s, 117 Main Street. Bobby Parker passed away in 2004, after operating “Bobby’s” for nearly 40 years. It was a great meeting place and a great place to hear jazz music. It’s a Metro PCS store now, but you can still hear Bobby walking away on his old stand-up acoustic bass.
#10 The Attic Lounge, 165 Capital Avenue SW It’s still there, and empty as far as we
can tell. It’s a unique structure, and never really seemed to catch on. Over the years, a lot of people have tried different things there. We don’t know if there are any ghosts up there, but there could very well be haunting smell of maple syrup and pancakes wafting over from the Pancake House next door.