THE GHOSTLY FOOTPRINTS OF ENGINE HOUSE NO. 9

Shadowy figures, strange noises, and mysteriously shifted objects have all been witnessed at the Mitten Brewing Company.

But it’s not unique to the brewhouse.

When owners Chris Andrus and Max Trierweiler first began work on historic Engine House No. 9 in February 2012, they met with a former tenant of the property. Half jokingly, they asked if the building was haunted.

The tenant stopped in his tracks. His face grew grim. After a short pause he replied cryptically: “Just know that’s it nothing bad.”

The baby footprints that were left in the lobby in the middle of the night. They lead to nowhere, and appeared as if from nothing.

The baby footprints that were left in the lobby in the middle of the night. They lead to nowhere, and appeared as if from nothing.

The owners soon realized there was something to this story. One night during the second week of operation, owner Chris Andrus was the last person to leave the Engine House, heading home at 2 a.m. after mopping the facility. He was also the first one to arrive early the next morning.

As he prepared the taproom for opening, he checked the front lobby and noticed a few footprints left from the wet mop water the night before. At first, Chris thought nothing of it. But after a few minutes of going about his business, he realized no one else had been in the building between his leaving and return, and that the prints were made by bare feet. He returned to the footprints and made a perplexing discovery:

They were the footprints of a child.

Stranger still was the arrangement of the prints. They started and ended in the middle of the room, and were pointed in all different directions. There was nothing to indicate a normal walking path. Judging from the tracks, no one had entered the room, and no one had left.

“I was the last one out and the first one in. There’s really no practical explanation to the footprints,” Chris said of the experience. “We had heard strange noises more than a few times, but nothing worth mentioning. This was the first real indication of something here, at least to us.”

In April 2014, owner Max Trierweiler and a restaurant manager were doing
demolition upstairs. While tearing down one of the original walls in order to reclaim the wood and repurpose it for the upstairs bar top, they made another startling discovery.

There, inside the wall on wood that had not been exposed to the light of day in 126 years, was a plainly-visible white footprint. Remembering the story and photo from Chris’ experience, they looked to match the footprints.

The footprint board that is now apart of the upstairs bar.

The footprint board that is now apart of the upstairs bar.

Sure enough, the footprints were the exact same size.

The footprint board was carefully removed, and placed in the center of the upstairs bartop to further showcase the history of the building, and its possible permanent tenant. Sealed under an epoxy coat, the footprint is still visible to patrons today.

Since opening, The Mitten staff has witnessed other strange phenomena including shadows and silhouettes of figures who weren’t really there, and odd noises from different rooms and floors.

On one occasion, a bartender was meeting with a manager in the upstairs office. She asked if there supposed to be somebody in the front room.

“I just saw something walk across the doorway, in between the bar and the door,” she said.

Immediately, the manager rushed to check the front room. Sure enough, no one was in the room. There simply wasn’t enough time for anyone to get from behind the newly- constructed bar and the stairs heading downstairs.

In the evening when employees shut down the bar, the motion lights from the bathroom area in the front lobby are regularly set off, even when the doors are locked.

Even customers have remarked that they’ve sensed a presence. One Mitten Clubhouse member, seated at the far end of the bar felt the presence of an entity standing behind her. “He’s right behind me, over my right shoulder,” she remarked.

Who, or what, the presence may be, we are not sure. But there are several possibilities, including a former firefighter from Engine House No. 9 who died in the line of duty.

 
 

The audio files below were recorded during an overnight at the firehouse with Grand Rapids Ghost Hunters.