Archive for January, 2013

The School and Hospital was a facility for, the outdated term, “mentally retarded” people located in Mansfield, Connecticut and ran by the state. It was open from 1860-1993 and its former campus is now a historical district. The caretakers’ residence was also listed on the program Paranormal Witness in 2011. (FYI you can hate me for this but I personally find that show awful and yet I watch Ghost Adventures… go figure, each to their own as they say.)

The hospital opened in Lakeville as the Connecticut School for Imbeciles and later changed its name to the Connecticut Training School for the Feebleminded at Lakeville, in 1915. Two years later it merged with the Connecticut Colony for Epileptics and became the presently named school and hospital. When it opened in its merged state in 1917 there were 402 students in residence, by 1932 it was 1,070. During the Depression and World War II demand decreased for students so they faced overcrowding and long waiting lists. It increased again in the 1960’s as the attitudes changed and by 1969 there were 1609 residents along with 875 full-time staff. By 1991 with all the changes it was down to 141 people remaining as residents.

1993 saw the closure of the hospital after numerous lawsuits about the conditions of the hospital and patients were transferred. Some of the dilapidated buildings were demolished but others were saved in some form or other, and the area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. As with many of these older asylums the  anguish and torment of the patients at the hands of barbaric treatments have led to many investigations about the area being haunted. Lobotomy and Electro-shock therapy conjure up strong images from various horrors and documentaries about the way in which “barbaric” treatments were employed. The ghosts of the past if they are not intelligent could well be residual and I am sure our imaginations can certainly fill in plenty of gaps if not.

Rhode Island, USA seems to be host to a strange tale originating between Mapleville and Burrilville and is based on a true story that has now received the supernatural ghost treatment.   Katherine Donahue was a woman in love, she was a tall dirty-blond haired lady from the 1810’s who was going to marry her lover, Jonathan Cuttle in the September. Katherine had a great life bar one problem, a man that lived alone nearby and was obsessed with her; David Jones was the obsessed next door neighbour.

 One day Katherine and her younger brother went to the nearby swamp, she went to get water for the family and Charles went off to hunt pheasant. It was a seemingly nice day until David suddenly snapped, in his own house he had come to the conclusion that he would not have her and she would never love him so he charged out of the door with a knife. He stopped at Jonathan’s farm first and spotted him out picking hay, he put it down and turned to be faced by David who jacked the pitchfork he’d been using and jabbed it into Jonathan’s back.

Katherine was by the water and David saw her, he threw the knife at her which went through her neck and she screamed in pain as she died on the ground. It is said that the rocking chairs of the property now rock themselves, along with other ghostly voices or noises around the halls. Unfortunately for this one I found relatively little on the case to help with its validity.

Eyam is down the road from me, about 50 minute’s drive I’d estimate. So in all honesty I should make an effort to go there but as I write this there’s plenty of snow on the ground and my car’s not built for the country. However I’ll put it on the list and hopefully get there at some point.

Eyam is a village in Derbyshire, England and is famous for being the “plague village”, not to say everyone has it now of course. Back in August 1665 when the plague was found there the residents isolated the village so that the plague could not spread.

The plague was brought in by a flea-infected bundle of cloth, delivered to the tailor George Vicars, from London. Within a week Vicars was dead, he was buried 7th September 1665. After the start of the deaths the people turned to their rector, Reverend William Mompesson and they decided to begin their own precautions.

It was decided that families would bury their own dead, they would also relocate services from the Parish Church of St Lawrence to Cucklett Delph so that villagers would separate themselves more. It was designed to stop the spread, but the more drastic and well-known measure was to quarantine the village entirely to prevent it going elsewhere.

The plague raged on for over a year and around 260 villagers died, 83 survived and the church has a record of 273 individuals at the time that were victims. When the outsiders first started to visit a year or more after they found less than a quarter of it’s former size… Some however seemed to have survive by random chance as there was direct contact to the plague with them.

A rather sorry story is Elizabeth Hancock who never did get sick but buried six of her children and her husband within eight days of one another, these graves are known as the Riley Graves. It is also recorded that Marshall Howe was the unofficial gravedigger who survived and yet had handled many of the infected bodies, an immunity that may have been brought about as he had survived it earlier on.

If I should get there I shall look around for some nice pictures, the village and hall looked rather nice from what I could find online. I’ll be sure to feedback if I do!

The Sanatorium was a rest home for tubercular African American’s in Burkeville, Virginia from 1917 to 1965. The Sanatorium was later to become the site of  Piedmont Geriatric Hospital. You’re probably spotted my Newstead Sanatorium and may well be familiar with the USA Waverly Hills (another fascinating place) and aware of the killer TB, at it’s height it was accounting for around one in every ten deaths and the self-contained hospitals were pretty much known as “waiting rooms for death”.

In some cases the stories are grossly over exaggerated or at seem so but the fear of this killer was immense and now worryingly in the more recent news it seems the cases of this killer are once again on the rise. I was (I admit) a little surprised to think of a rest home specifically for black people, everyone to me deserves health  are on some level regardless of who they are. At the time of it’s opening the only treatment facilities for the care of black people were the Central State Hospital for Mental Diseases and the State Penitentiary.

For the black people in the 1910’s the urbanisation meant that Virginia Health Officials worked on evidence that pointed to the worsening situation, the “Negro  Health Problem”. It pointed to the high levels of disease, the maternal and infant mortality rates and the terrible conditions of sanitation mixed with poor diets and very hard physical labour. After lobbying for the new care home it was originally considered a good spot for the place would be Ivor but the local white population protested this fiercely and is recorded as such in August 1916. Lynchburg was considered to be the next site but they had an even worse response, it seems so sad that in a time of health crisis these people thought so little of the needs of others, yet again however I shall try to keep my thoughts to myself, this isn’t a political blog!

By the time they reached Burkeville the State Board of Health had lost its patients and despite protests they ignored the opposition and began construction. It was an organised routine for activities, meals and relaxation. Some patients learnt skills that would hep them when they left. Patients were also required to attend weekly lectures on tuberculosis to learn how to deal with sputum and other aspects of the illness. It was hoped that learning about it there would mean they took the lessons into their community.

It was the end of the era for the segregation of black and white patients around 1965. Piedmont Sanatorium closed and black patients were admitted into Blue Ridge Sanatorium, by 1967 the Burkeville establishment was converted to Piedmont Geriatric Hospital.

Pictures can be found at this website

 

Okay here goes! This one is pretty famous to those of us that like to watch horror at the very least. As the setting for the Session 9 Film (the cast of CSI in a horror?) it has a very interesting history let alone the ghost stories… so hold on to your coffee/tea and get ready for a blog that could be rather lengthy. The State Lunatic Hospital was a psychiatric hospital located in Danvers, Massachusetts. Built in 1874 and opened in 1878 it was a self-contained hospital built according to the Kirkbride Plan. One of the rumours boasts it as a birthplace of pre-frontal lobotomy (lush!).

It was originally two main centre buildings which had the administration and had four radiating wings. There were kitchens, laundry, a chapel, dormitories, boiler  house and other detailed rooms from the plans and records that exist. The water came from Middleton Pond. Over the years they added other buildings and most of the buildings on the campus were connected by a series of confusing underground tunnels. Part of this underground myriad of tunnels was a hub for maintenance; this was nicknamed “The Wagon Wheel”. The older tunnels were used in the Session 9 film. With the original plan being to house 500 patients it’s no surprise that with over 2000 by the late 40’s overcrowding was a major issue. People were held in the basements of the Kirkbride and of course this will add to the stories of  ghosts, tales of horror and anguish.

The asylum was established for residential treatment and care for the mentally ill, in the 1890’s Dr Charles Page, superintendent, declared the use of mechanical  restraint as unnecessary and harmful in some cases. There was more then one account of the way in which people that been treat, the idea of inhumane shock therapies, lobotomies, drugs to control the patients and the time honoured tradition of the straight-jackets. June 24th 1992 the hospital closed, the buildings were left to rot and it was not until many years later it was demolished.

The property was sold to Avalon Bay Development in December 2005 and they demolished most of the buildings, despite an outcry about the matter. June 2006  spelt  the last of the demolition, including the Kirkbride, only the Danvers Reservoir and original block shell remain, buildings are worked around it, Avalon Bay predicted they would have properties ready by Fall 2007.

A spanner in the works came up April 7th, 2007 when four of the complex buildings and four of their construction trailers burnt down. The fire was visible 17 miles away in Boston and investigation began. Avalon Bay provided a live webcam of the construction at the old hospital site however they cut out around 2:03am; it could be due to the damage from the fire. The underground tunnel to the power plant still exists though it is blocked off, and now the only thing left of the asylum are the cemeteries, blocked off tunnels and the brick shell of the Admin, D and G Wings.

So what of the ghosts? Now converted into apartments there have been reports of flickering lights, of full body apparitions, footsteps and audible sounds, and the doors that like to open and close seemingly of their own accord. Here goes:

2001 horror Session 9 is filmed around here, I thought it was a pretty good film.

In Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz teenagers break in to investigate the haunted asylum.

In Mage: The Awakening (Role play game) the hospital in the World of Darkness was administered by vampires who fed on the patients.

It is also believed to be a widely used source of inspiration for H P Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanatorium, alongside the Asylum that shares the name in Batman. It is referenced by name in H P Lovecraft’s Pickman’s Model.