Hospitals. Asylums. Lunatic Asylums for the Insane. Insane Asylums. Mental Hospitals.
Honestly, how many different ways over the years can they name a typically enormous brick building, with numerous floors, and generally some very questionable history? I suppose your guess is as good as mine.
Continuing on with my ever fascinated “creepy” vibe articles, I have been on an internet search for these exact facilities that hold definite interest. What’s even more crazy to me is that normally this is the stuff of nightmares, however, it’s almost like a train wreck that I simply cannot look away from. Often times when I research these, my mind wanders to very dark places; as such, I rapidly become a part of #TeamNoSleep.
Whether it be the locale, the history, the pictures taken or the back story, most everyone enjoys a good scare, right? Technically, I prefer to watch or read anything that could potentially freak me out with a group of friends, but you win some, you lose some; and that’s just good sense.
Nightmare fuel. That is what today’s article is about. So, my suggestion to you is to grab some popcorn and a drink, maybe surrounded by a group of friends, and enjoy the eeriness that you are about to embark upon.
16. St. John’s Hospital, (England)
Also known as “Pauper Lunatic Asylum” but originally known as “Lincolnshire Lunatic Asylum,” this facility was built in 1952. From these other aliases, I am sure you have surmised that they treated mental illnesses.
This gargantuan building was built with an Italian style in mind. Upon opening, it housed 250 patients; by 1889 upwards of 680 patients; by 1902 the site spanned over 120 acres; and by 1926 over 160 acres. At its height, the asylum housed a whopping 944 beds. They did the normal “mental hospital” things like electro-shock therapy; brain surgeries to “cure” mental illness…well you get the picture I’m sure. Surprisingly, it remained open until 1990. It has since become privately developed into housing.
15. Beelitz-Heilstätten Sanatorium, (Germany)
In case you weren’t in the know, Beelitz is where the infamous douchebag Adolf Hitler was treated for injuries garnered from World War II. In 1945 it became home to the Red Army forces, and stood a Soviet military hospital until 1995. As of 2007 none of the buildings or the area surrounding have been secured.
However, a couple of movies were filmed at Beelitz: The Pianist (2002) and Valkyrie (2008). As I have never seen these movies, I can’t speak to the creepiness of this hospital in either film, nor can I speak to how often this hospital was in the film. With that said, there is no record of it being haunted. I’m not saying that I wanted it to be haunted, but I wanted it to be haunted.
14. Pripyat Hospital (Ukraine)
Thirty years ago, the Chernobyl disaster struck. If you are unfamiliar with the disaster, it was an explosion that released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. Also known as one of the worse nuclear power plant accidents in history.
Human nature and its curiosities have made Pripyat a tourist hotspot and since attracted 7,500 visitors as of 2009. Tourists will pay £100 a day to visit the site, where radiation levels are obviously high, maybe somewhere around 35 times higher than normal. Visitors sign a form agreeing to anti-contamination rules such as not eating and smoking within the site; visitors are then ferried by buses to the entrance of the zone. The entrance is only open to those on these tours or with special permission.
13. Cane Hill Hospital (England)
Located in Coulsdon, England, Cane Hill has had some famous residents in its care. Let’s talk about that, shall we?
Michael Caine’s half-brother, Michael Parkinson (whose mother had kept a secret from the family for over 50 years). Michael Caine has stated: “My mother was dead by the time I found this out, she was gone for two or three years. I asked the matron at the hospital, ‘how did this all keep quiet?’ The matron said ‘your mother used to bring a Bible and every new nurse had to swear on the Bible that this [boy] was not [your] brother.’ She’d given him a picture of me from [the film] Zulu so he knew who I was when [he saw me] on the television. [My brother’s] girlfriend told the reporter that he was [my] brother.”
Other noteworthy people in care: Hannah Chaplin (the great Charlie Chaplin’s mother) and Terry Burns (David Bowie’s half-brother).
Cane Hill opened in 1883 and closed its door in 1992. Since its closure the normal wear and tear and of course, vandalism have been a part of Cane Hill’s history. A popular ghost hunting spot, claims have been made to the supernatural being witnessed. Spooky.
12. Severalls Mental Hospital (England)
This psychiatric hospital was built in 1910 and held up to 2,000 patients at a time. Severalls had an interesting acceptance criteria in its earlier days; if you had illegitimate children, or perhaps were raped, you would be confined. With intake like this, I suppose it comes as no surprise that this institution also held experiments dealing with mental health treatments. You know things like lobotomies and electroconvulsive therapy. This was all the rage in the 1940s and 1950s, right?
Anyway, after steadily declining numbers in housing patients, Severalls closed its doors for good in 1997. Like any good asylum/psychiatric hospital, it too succumbed to vandalism. Even so, buildings still remain intact; and for any good explorer/ghost hunter, a place to rock some EMF (Electro Magnetic Field, in case you didn’t know) meters would be all the rage in Colchester, Essex, United Kingdom (site of Severalls)!
11. Central State Hospital (Georgia)
In December 1842, a hospital was founded in Milledgeville, Georgia by the name of “Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum.” It was also known as the “Georgia State Sanitarium” and “Milledgeville State Hospital” over the course of its long history. In the 1950s, a scandal came about when it was discovered that there were only 48 doctors, in a 200 building facility, in which not one was a psychiatrist. Some of the “doctors” had been hired off the mental wards. In case you didn’t get that: some of the patients were helping run this asylum.
By the 1960s the facility had grown into the largest mental hospital in the world (competing with Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in New York). Its landmark Powell Building and the vast, abandoned 1929 Jones Building, are amongst some 200 buildings on two thousand acres that once housed nearly 12,000 patients.
10. Pennhurst Asylum (Philadelphia)
Also known as: “Pennhurst State School and Hospital” or “Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic” this was an institution for mentally and physically disabled individuals. Located in East Vincent, Pennsylvania and opened in November of 1908, Pennhurst had been the central hub for neglect and abuse. Opened for a century, it closed its doors in 1987.
As another little tidbit of information, in the 1970s, newspapers labeled Pennhurst “The Shame of Pennsylvania.” Here is a breakdown of some controversies surrounding said asylum:
In 1968, conditions at Pennhurst were exposed in a five-part television news report anchored by local NBC10 correspondent Bill Baldini.
In 1983, nine employees were indicted on charges ranging from slapping and beating patients (including some in wheelchairs) to arranging for patients to assault each other (what in the actual hell is wrong with people? Seriously).
The Halderman Case, which resulted in the closure of the institution, also detailed widespread patient abuse. I had to do a little digging on this, but here goes: Terry Lee Halderman visited her parent’s at home where unexplained bruises rose suspicion. Eventually the case reached new heights and the courts found that the conditions of Pennhurst were unsanitary, inhumane and dangerous, violating the Fourteenth Amendment. The courts also found that this hospital used cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The District Court decision was the first time that any federal court ruled that an institution must be closed based on a constitutional right to community services. Remember that whole shame thing? #Justified
9. Taunton State Hospital (Massachusetts)
Established in 1854, Taunton State Hospital is a psychiatric hospital located in where else, Taunton, Massachusetts. Originally known as the “State Lunatic Hospital at Taunton,” it was the second state asylum in Massachusetts. The main part of the hospital—known as “the Kirkbride Building”—closed in 1975, while other buildings fell into disrepair.
In 1994, the property was added to the “National Register of Historic Places” as a historic district.
In 1999, the main dome of the administration building collapsed.
In 2006, a large part of the historic complex was destroyed by fire.
In 2009, the remaining parts were demolished. However, many of the newer buildings on the campus remain.
Notable patients include: Thomas Hubbard Sumner, a sea captain known for developing the celestial navigation method known as the ‘Sumner line’ or line of position; Jane Toppan, a sociopathic serial killer; and most notable in my opinion, Lizzie Borden. Although often talked about being held in the asylum, she was never admitted and is only known as being held in the jail, which was on Hodges Ave near the hospital, during the trial.
8. Athens Lunatic Asylum (Ohio)
Can we take a pause and wonder aloud? The fact that naming anything with the word “lunatic” being so common is quite frightening, isn’t it? Okay now that that is out of the way…
This was a mental hospital that was based in Athens, Ohio from 1874 until 1993. During its operation, the hospital provided services to a variety of patients including Civil War veterans, children, and violent criminals suffering from various mental disabilities. Although, what they consider to be mental disabilities is questionable. It was not a self-sustaining facility, and for many years, the hospital had livestock, farm fields and gardens, an orchard, greenhouses, a dairy, a physical plant to generate steam heat, and even a carriage shop in the earlier years.
Today, the Ridges are a part of Ohio University and house the Kennedy Museum of Art—an auditorium and many offices, classrooms, and storage facilities. The former hospital is perhaps best known as a site of the infamous lobotomy procedure, as well as various supposed paranormal sightings. After the hospital’s original structure closed, the state of Ohio acquired the property and renamed the complex and its surrounding grounds The Ridges. According to The Guide of Repository Holdings, the term “The Ridges” was derived from a naming contest in 1984 to re-describe the area and its purpose.
7. Rolling Hills Asylum (New York)
If Jason and Grant of TAPS from Ghosthunters say there is paranormal activity… there is paranormal activity. Are there any GH fans out there? Did you see this episode by chance?
Rolling Hills Asylum, originally called the “Genesee County Poor Farm,” was established in 1826. This location was formerly a stage coach tavern before the Genesee county board of supervisors bought the property and established the poor farm on December 4, 1826. A poor farm, or poor house, was an institution built by a government or charitable organization to house and maintain orphans, widowed women and their children, the disabled, the mentally ill, and minor criminals.
If it didn’t feel like enough of a prison for you, here is something else; the residents were called inmates. The poor farm was self-sufficient, and residents tended the farm and animals as part of their chores. There was a shop on location were jams and pastries were made; even a shop where coffins were made to sell for the individuals’ own profit.
Over 1,700 bodies are supposedly buried on the grounds in unmarked graves that have been lost to time.
6. Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital (New Jersey)
A “hospital” with many names seems to be a common theme…
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, also known as:
Greystone Psychiatric Park
Greystone Psychiatric Hospital
The State Asylum for the Insane at Morristown
New Jersey State Hospital
Morris Plains State Hospital
Built in 1876, this facility was built to alleviate overcrowding at the state’s only other “lunatic asylum” (I love how these words are so loosely used by the way) located in Trenton, New Jersey.
Originally built to accommodate 350 people, the facility having been expanded several times, reached a high of over 7,700 patients. This is turn resulted in unprecedented overcrowding conditions.
In 2008, the facility was ordered to be closed as a result for deteriorating conditions, overcrowding, and a new facility was built on the large Greystone campus nearby bearing the same name as the aging facility. Despite considerable public opposition and media attention, demolition of the main Kirkbride building began in April 2014 and was completed by October 2015.
5. Willard Asylum (New York)
The “Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane,” is a building complex in Willard, New York, near Seneca Lake. It was once listed on the National Register of Historic Places back in 1975. The property once included farmland that was farmed by the residents.
Some of that property is now a part of the Bonavista State Park Golf Course.
In 1995, around 400 suitcases that were once brought in by the patients were discovered in the asylum attic. The Willard drug treatment center was opened in 1995 on the campus of the former Willard Psychiatric State Hospital, a facility for mental patients.
The site of Willard Psychiatric State Hospital was going to be the start of Cornell University but the civil war started which later ended up preventing the college from ever opening in Ovid, New York. Built in 1869, it is now a tourist spot, however, as of 2016, New York State officials have decided to shut it down to the public. They intend to revisit a reopen in 2017.
4. Renwick Smallpox Hospital (New York)
The “Smallpox Hospital,” sometimes referred to as—The “Renwick Smallpox Hospital” and later on, the “Maternity and Charity Hospital Training School”—is an abandoned hospital located on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, New York City.
Originally designed by architect James Renwick Jr., the 100-bed hospital opened in 1856, when the area was known as Blackwell’s Island. A century after it opened, the hospital was closed, and the building eventually fell into disarray.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and designated a New York City Landmark four years later—the only ruin in the city with that designation. After the completion of an ongoing $4.5 million stabilization project, the Smallpox Hospital ruins will be open to the public. No word on whether there will be a form of ghost tours or not, though.
3. Linda Vista Community Hospital (California)
Linda Vista Community Hospital, originally called (as literally every hospital has had another name) the “Santa Fe Railroad Hospital” or “Santa Fe Coast Lines Hospital,” is a former hospital on South St. Louis Street in Los Angeles, California.
The hospital was initially built for railroad employees, and was one of four employee hospitals run by the railroad Santa Fe Employees Hospital Association.
In the decades since its closure, it has become the center of several paranormal investigations; the most notable investigation was initiated by Ghost Adventures, where the crew stayed a full night in the hospital.
After its closure, the hospital became a popular filming location for horror-themed productions, including films, TV shows, and music videos. Some notables are listed below.
Films: Outbreak (1995); Pearl Harbor (2001); Insidious Chapter 2 (2013); Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015
TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Moonlight; Charmed (Season 1) in the episode “Dream Sorcerer”; True Blood (Season 5) in the episode “Let’s Boot and Rally”; Criminal Minds (Season 7) in the episode “Heathridge Manor”
2. Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital (New York)
A place without so many other names would be just as sweet… Or something like that. The Brooklyn Navy Yard, also known as “The United States Navy Yard, and/or the New York Naval Shipyard (NYNS), was a shipyard located in Brooklyn, New York, east of the Battery on the East River in Wallabout Basin—a semicircular bend of the river across from Corlear’s Hook in Manhattan.
The tremendous efforts of its 70,000 workers during World War II (1939-1945) earned the yard the nickname “The Can-Do Shipyard”.
Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital closed in 1987. Currently, the NYNS has become a place of commercial activity and private manufacturing. More than 200 businesses operate at the yard and employ about 5,000 people.
1. Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Kentucky)
And coming in at number one: Waverly Hills Sanatorium. A closed sanatorium located in southwestern Louisville, Kentucky, Waverly Hills opened in 1910 as a two-story hospital. It was meant to accommodate 40 to 50 tuberculosis patients. It continually expanded over the years.
In the early 1900s, Jefferson County (where Waverly Hills stood) was ravaged by an outbreak of tuberculosis (the “White Plague”) which prompted the construction of a new hospital. However, the hospital closed in 1961 due to the antibiotic drug “streptomycin” that lowered the need for such a hospital.
Waverly Hills has since been popularized on the television show Ghost Hunters (remember when we talked about how legit they are?) as being one of the “most haunted” hospitals in the eastern United States. The sanatorium was also featured on ABC/FOX Family Channel’s Scariest Places On Earth; VH1’s Celebrity Paranormal Project; Syfy’s Ghost Hunters (which we established); Zone Reality’s Creepy; the British show Most Haunted, Paranormal Challenge; and Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel.
Not to be outdone, Waverly Hills also had a film inspired by it called Spooked: The Ghosts of Waverly Hills Sanatorium (2006), which professes to document paranormal sightings on site.
Plans have been developed to convert the sanatorium into a hotel and conference center.
That plan has definite customer hauntings written all over it.
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