America’s Most Haunted Hospitals and Asylums
3 Aviles Street, St. Augustine, Florida
The Spanish Military Hospital served as a medical facility from 1784 to 1821, and is now a haunted museum dedicated to freaking out any who dare enter. Though the museum isn’t the original labyrinthine structure that sheltered the injured, it is located atop the same scared Indian burial site—meaning there are plenty of restless souls still wandering the grounds. Guests have reported odd encounters like seeing apparitions, objects moving by themselves, and, scariest of all, something grabbing at their ankles as they walk through the site.
Built in 1908 as a school/hospital for the physically handicapped and the mentally insane, Pennhurst Asylum was a small city in and of itself. With a population of more than 10,000 patients at any given time, the asylum is also the location of abuse, torture, and even murder at the hands of its staff. In 1968, NBC released a feature, “Suffer the Little Children,” showcasing the dehumanization patients underwent at the asylum. That broadcast and repeated allegations of the staff’s abuse of their patients finally led to Pennhurst’s closing in 1986, though its innards, equipment, and patients’ belongings were just left abandoned. Today, it’s the site of a haunted attraction where you should go if hearing disembodied voices brings you comfort and joy.
ATHENS LUNATIC ASYLUM, OHIO
From 1874 to 1993, Athens Mental Hospital, now known as The Ridges, earned a dark reputation for its frequent lobotomies, housing of violent criminals, and how its grounds served as the final resting place for more than 1,900 of its patients – their headstones marked with not a name, but a number. Creepier still, a woman named Margaret Schilling reportedly disappeared in 1978 inside the hospital’s maze of wards. Her naked body was found a year later in an abandoned wing of the hospital—her clothes folded neatly by her side. Today, you can still see the stain left behind by her decaying body, and possibly her ghost on the top floor in ward No. 20.
Shut down and left to its not-so-merry ghosts in 1975, Taunton State Hospital was a product of the Kirkbride Plan, a massive 154-acre architectural approach that masked the deteriorating patients housed within its walls. While most of Taunton has since been demolished, its history is just too creepy to leave off the list. The hospital opened its door to some dangerous patients—including Jane Toppan, a serial-killing nurse with at least 31 souls on her list—though it’s stories about the staff that truly chill the spine. Legend has it doctors would shuffle patients down to the basement for a bit of satanic ritual. Later, reports of a “shadow man,” a ghost who crawls along the walls and watches patients, swirled.
Rolling Hills Asylum
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Waverly Hills Sanatorium started out as Waverly School in the late 1800s and evolved into a hospital in 1908, designed to safely accommodate between 40 and 50 tuberculosis patients. As the disease developed into an epidemic, the hospital was expanded to support at least 400 patients and was considered to be one of the best facilities at the time. In 1961, the hospital was closed down, following the discovery of a tuberculosis-curing antibiotic.
Today, Waverly Hills Sanatorium is known by many as “the most spiritually active place in the world”, with paranormal reports every single day. Some of the most terrifying reports surround the story of a nurse who hanged herself by a light bulb wire when she discovered she had become pregnant out of wedlock by the owner of the sanatorium. Many unusual sightings have also been spotted in the area known as the Death Tunnel, where dead bodies were disposed of away from the eyes of the living.
Various paranormal TV shows have spent time recording at Waverly Hills Sanatorium, including the cast of Most Haunted – one of whom had scratches inflicted upon their body during their visit.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Constructed between 1858 and 1881, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is the second largest in the world, originally designed to house up to 250 patients before it reached its peak in the 1950s, when more than 2,400 people were crammed into the facility. As the result of bizarre experimental treatments and severe neglect, thousands of people died here over the years. The physical deterioration of the building coupled with changes in the treatment of mental illness resulted in the closure of the asylum in 1994.
The reasons for being committed to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum were almost never-ending and included trivial things, such as falling from a horse or laziness to ridiculous matters, such as “imaginary female trouble” or desertion by husband up to serious cases, including murders and PSTD. This broad spectrum resulted in all sorts of mismatched patients being cooped up together, all with disastrous consequences.
Two decades since the asylum closed, the staff who work there claim that ghosts continue to roam the halls. The manager states that she once saw 40 doors suddenly slam shut simultaneously, whilst other visitors have witnessed a ghost boy stood in the corner of a room. As well as sightings, whispers of forgotten patients have also been reported, on top of unusual smells, the sound of squeaking gurneys and screams coming from the electro-shock room.
Alton Mental Health Hospital is the only facility in this list which remains a functioning hospital to this day. Built in the early 1900s, this hospital is known for the harsh mistreatment of its patients, many of whom were subject to electrode shock therapy, lobotomies, and cold water treatments – all of which were standard everyday practice at this hospital.
Many people today – including staff, patients, and visitors – have reported hearing unusual noises, from doors randomly slamming shut to undecipherable whisperings. One of the creepiest reports comes from a nurse who was on duty and heard someone ask, “Who’s that?” She turned around to respond and discovered that there was no one there and no one had been in the building at the time. Later that day the exact same thing happened in the same place to a second nurse.
Since this facility is still a hospital today, tours are strictly forbidden, but people who have taken photos on site whilst visiting patients have reportedly caught images of orbs with the pained face of a human male on the front.
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