The hunt for the Melonheads

Jr. Owen Foster paralyzed in fear after hearing something from behind

Jr. Owen Foster paralyzed in fear after hearing something from behind

My car lights flicker off. Carefully, I open my car door and step out. The gravel below me crunches with every step I take. In the distance, a poorly lit mansion sits. The wind is cold and sharp, almost forbidding. I reach down into my pockets, pulling out my flashlight. With a deep breath, I turn it towards the trail surrounding the mansion. Before me, the gravel path dips down into the depths of the dark forest. Something didn’t feel right. What is it?  

   Between the rolling dunes of Saugatuck and Holland, Felt Mansion stands. Built in 1928, The Felt Estate boasts 25 rooms, three floors, and a grand ballroom. Self-made millionaire Dorr Felt built the mansion for his wife, Agnes. Unfortunately, Agnes would soon pass alongside Dorr only years later. The Felt Family maintained the estate up until 1949, when the estate was sold to Shore Acres Farm.

   Since then, the mansion has been used as housing for a Catholic prep school, a prison, and offices for state police. Not until the 1990s would Laketown Township purchase the land for one dollar. Since then, the estate has been open to the public, with the venue often used for weddings. Despite the history on the website, local folklore suggests a much more gruesome backstory. 

   Nearby to Felt Mansion was supposedly the Junction Insane Asylum. The asylum was said to have housed children with a disease called hydrocephalus. Experiments were performed on the children, inflicting deep pain. Legend has it that the children were released into the woods after becoming feral, and have resided there ever since. 

   The Melonheads.

   Various stories can be heard about the Melonheads’ origins, from them actually living in the mansion, to them now living in caves nearby. There are even stories depicting the Melonheads with murderous intentions for the doctor that supposedly abused them. 

   In addition to the Melonhead folklore, visitors claim the mansion is haunted by the spirit of Agnes Felt. Reports claim to see a woman walk along the hallway and then disappear into the walls. Restoration workers also report hearing doors open and shut at will on the second floor. Shadowy figures have been seen on the ballroom floor. The flickering of bathroom lights upstairs has also been recorded, despite electricians confirming the room wasn’t even wired. 

   The entire estate and surrounding areas are brimming with unexplained happenings. Something isn’t right. 

   However, Laketown Township Public Information Officer Jim Hayden discounts folklore as fantasy. “There was never a mental asylum in the township. The Felt Mansion was never used for such purposes. No scientific experiments were ever conducted on children at the estate,” he said. 

   He points to a WWMT TV 3 report that claimed the myth originated from students at the St. Augustine seminary. Hayden believes the students supported their folklore using details of the surrounding area. “The legend also mentions the Melonheads living in caves or tunnels. That myth could stem in part from the large water pipes Felt constructed on the property to fill his reservoir and distribute the water over the property for uses including watering crops,” Hayden said.

   After seeing an artist’s Melonhead comic book collection at a Grand Rapids comic con, Hayden sums it up as a silly urban legend. However, several questions remain unanswered. 

   As avid investigators for the West Ottawan, Owen Foster and Ben Sanders decided to set out to find the truth. On a late Friday night, we packed into a Volkswagen Jetta and drove through the ferocious wind and rain. Upon arrival at the Felt Mansion, we packed our bags and headed towards the dimly lit mansion. Suddenly, shadowy figures emerged from the side of the building. Our panic soon dissipated once we realized a wedding was being held there that night. We were relieved–for now.

   We began to commence our real search. As we stumbled down the steep descent into the woods surrounding Felt Mansion, fear sat in. With a deep breath, and a rush of anxiety, we descended into the brush. 

The trail leading deeper into the forest

   The rain continued to pour down on us. The forest was calm, almost too calm. One couldn’t tell if the leaves rustling was the rain or something more sinister. We dove deeper into the woods. The trail ahead began to fade. The darkness began to develop around us. 

   Up ahead, we came upon a worn-down road. As we approached, we realized the road went straight up a nearby hill. With each step we took up the hill, our unease grew. Halfway up, we caught movement out of our peripheral vision. 

   Before anything could be identified, the woods grew quiet once more. The only sound that remained was the rain pelting our coats. We stood, the two of us confused in the wet unknown. We trudged deeper into the woods. 

   Various spots in the woods looked tampered with, as though something was using them or was there recently. It could’ve just been animals, but we thought otherwise. The atmosphere felt ominous. 

   A little farther down the hill, we reached a gated off trail. To our surprise, a yellow strip of police tape wrapped around the gate. Real fear began to sit in. What happened here? We were petrified. 

   We inspected the gated off trail. After seeing the tampered parts of the woods, blurred movement, and police tape, we felt as if someone, or something, was telling us to leave. Amid the fear and confusion, something caught our attention. Leaves rustled behind us. 

   That was it. We had to leave. Together, we ran back down the hill, rain and wind whipping our faces. “We have to go!” I screamed. In the now dark woods, who knew if anything was chasing us. We left zero chances as we ran back to the car. Quickly, I started the car and slammed on the gas pedal. 

   We left Felt Mansion that night with our clothes drenched and our hearts racing. Questions swarmed our minds. Everything became uncertain. One thing was for sure, we wouldn’t be coming back.

The forest becomes quiet once again