In this post, we will take a walk through the Athens Lunatic Asylum. Abandoned asylums must be the spookiest type of buildings to visit. In the past, I have spent time visiting within the walls of an asylum that was still operating and that was unsettling enough.
The unsettling and spooky feeling likely comes from the combination of the asylum architecture and the mental illnesses that the patients experience.
I admire the professionals that work with and help the patients and I admire the strength of those that suffer from mental illness and have to deal with not only the symptoms but the societal stigma and judgement that comes with their illness.
Insane Asylum Horror-Athens Lunatic Asylum also is known as The Ridges- Athens, Ohio
The Athens Lunatic Asylum was originally built in 1874 to treat those afflicted with tuberculosis. The hospital was built to accommodate 550 patients and was overcrowded almost immediately. By the 1950s the institute housed almost 2,000 patients. These conditions caused abuse to occur between the staff and the patients and among the patients themselves.
The Athens Lunatic Asylum is one of the hospitals where Dr Walter Jackson Freeman II, known as the Father of the Lobotomy, performed over 200 Transorbital Lobotomies on patients suffering from mental illness. In 1936, Dr Walter Freeman and neurologist James Watts developed the prefrontal lobotomy. Watts eventually parted company with Freeman when the latter began to only perform the transorbital lobotomy. Dr Walter Freeman became known as a showboat and performer who once killed a patient in Iowa when he was distracted by the press that he had invited to witness his work. Dr Freeman once conducted 228 transorbital lobotomies during a two-week period in West Virginia in 1952. He charged $25 per lobotomy at the time.
A strange occurrence happened in the Athens Lunatic Asylum when patient Margaret Schilling went missing. Ms Schilling’s disappearance was not noticed immediately, likely due to the overcrowding of the facility. Margaret was reported missing on December 2, 1978, and was not found until January 12, 1979. Ms Schilling’s dead body was found on the floor of a locked room in the abandoned TB ward on the top floor of the hospital. She was naked at the time of death as she had removed her clothing and folded them in a neat pile. Ms Schilling’s decomposing body has left a permanent stain on the concrete floor. It has been reported that the ghost of Margaret Schilling has been seen in the window of the room she died in. (historicmysteries.com)
Many believe that Margaret Schilling died of a heart attack after accidentally locking herself in the unheated room of the attic/top floor of the asylum. She was not discovered for more than a month but likely had been dead for a few weeks. It is believed that she left the stain because of decomposition that may have been accelerated by the direct sunlight that would have hit her body. People have tried to remove the stain but it has proven to be permanent.
Would you be brave enough to wander through an abandoned asylum? Have you done it before?
The Other Half