“Abandoned lunatic asylum at Ohio University”
This place is on private property. Listing for informational purposes only. Please do not visit without express permission from the land owner. The Ridges Lunatic Asylum was a mental hospital operated 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. It is 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. It began operation on January 9, 1874. Within two years of its opening, the hospital was renamed The Athens Hospital for the Insane. Later, the hospital would be called the Athens Asylum for the Insane, the Athens State Hospital, the Southeastern Ohio Mental Health Center, the Athens Mental Health Center, the Athens Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center, the Athens Mental Health and Developmental Center, and then (again) the Athens Mental Health Center. The facility also included divisions such as the Dairy Barn, Beacon School, Athens Receiving Hospital, Center Hospital and the Tubercular Ward (Cottage “B”). The land where the hospital was built belonged to Arthur Coates and Eliakim H. Moore farms. The area originally was only made up of 141 acres and over the years, quickly grew to 1,000 plus acres of land. The idea to build an asylum came up shortly after the Civil War. The history of the hospital documents some of the now-discredited theories of the causes of mental illness, as well as the practice of harmful treatments, such as lobotomy. The Ohio University archives collection contains records unfolding information regarding employees’ background training. Some were fully trained and some, not trained at all. Some lived on the grounds and some did not. The most shocking information within the employee records are the evidence and documentation of hydrotherapy, electroshock, lobotomy, and psychotropic drugs, some of which have been discredited today as extremely inhumane ways of treating a patient. The leading cause of insanity among the male patients was masturbation, according to the annual report of 1876. The second-most common cause of insanity, as recorded in the first annual report, was intemperance and dissipation. In the hospital's first three years of operation, eighty-one men and one woman were diagnosed as having their insanity caused by masturbation. Fifty-six men and one woman were diagnosed as having their insanity caused by intemperance and dissipation during this same period of time. For the female patients hospitalized during these first three years of the asylum's operation, the three leading causes of insanity are recorded as "puerperal condition" (51 women), "change of life" (32 women), and "menstrual derangements" (29 women). Epilepsy was also considered a major cause of insanity and reason for admission to the hospital in the early years. The first annual report lists thirty-one men and nineteen women as having their insanity caused by epilepsy. General "ill health" accounted for the admission of thirty-nine men and forty-four women in the first three years of the hospital's operation. Overall, common ailments faced today such as epilepsy, menopause, alcohol addiction and tuberculosis were cause for enrollment in the hospital. The hospital closed in 1993. However, the institution of the state hospital continued to function in Athens, with patients and staff relocating to a newly constructed facility which, at the time of the transition in 1993, was called the Southeast Psychiatric Hospital. The psychiatric hospital in Athens is now named Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare.
The history of this place is cool, and it's very neat to see from the outside, but aside from the little deli and the art exhibits there isn't much going on here. Not a real destination in my opinion. Worth reading the history and snapping a couple pictures then moving on.
I can't believe what I saw there, every evening about an hour and a half before dark, flocks and flocks of turkey vultures, and I mean over 200 fly in to perch upon the asylum and in the surrounding trees, like something right out of a horror film. I read up on turkey vultures and they are like geese, wherever they nest and lay eggs, the hatchlings when older will come back to nest where they were born. So this has been going on for years and years since early 1900. Also in the information on turkey vultures, I discovered that they are drawn in by the scent of blood and death. The experience is enough to make chills run up your spine.
The lovely, nicely mowed field between the buildings and the Hocking River was a popular place for Ohio University students to take a blanket and spend a lazy afternoon doing what randy college students do!
So, is this place technically abandoned or not? It looks like it's still in use... In parts of the building at least.
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The Ridges Lunatic Asylum
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