Posts Tagged ‘asylum’

It is also known as the Essex County Hospital, the area is heavily guarded for the sake of preventing further vandalism and general criminal activity. I for one salute this, preservation of these buildings seems to be scarce in my country so I am always glad to hear when action is taken anywhere.

In 1986 the land was designated for the new location of the insane asylum and was located in Verona, now Cedar Grove, it was selected as a remote location, high altitude and peaceful for rehabilitation.

Like many it was soon victim to being at full capacity, it was so large it had its own train stop, grew its own food and the farming was considered to be helpful towards the rehabilitation of the patients. It was its own little town and even had a semi-professional baseball team.

The 1960’s and 70’s brought the further introduction of new treatments, medication and brought a decline in admitted patients. It still operated into the 1990’s and slowly parts were abandoned, which meant urban explorers and then local legends started. In 2007 Essex Court announced a smaller, modern place would be built. Overbrook would become a 90 acre country park.

For New Jersey teens exploring this was a rite of passage, “the asylum”, “the bin” and “the hilltop” tested their mettle. It is a sad fact that the buildings have been demolished. Now the site will hopefully be used for local benefit.

The site for the asylum is not that of the sanatorium, the Essex County Mountain Sanatorium stood elsewhere but was left entirely without preservation and nothing remains. The once lovely building for aiding tuberculosis sufferers is no longer standing. Nearby the penitentiary from 1872 will eventually follow suit no doubt.

In 2008 Choke was filmed at the Overbrook Asylum and so has been preserved in the form of video/film at least.

21st December, 1917, an article appeared in The New York Times about a terrible tragedy at Overbrook. A set of boilers failed during a cold wave, 24 patients died within 20 days. There were 1,800 patients at the time in the asylum and it gave rise to 32 cases of frostbite. The conditions were bad enough that the director sent a letter to relatives, he encouraged them to take their relatives away until the situation could be resolved.

Ghost Adventures visited the site but they did not give the official location during the filming, but Ghost Hunters and their sister show, GH Academy also visited. The TV shows go with the idea that forgotten patients still wander the halls. Much like Danver’s and others of a similar build the idea of the underground tunnels draws a good deal of attention too.

Building II was the location for the morgue and criminally insane, apparently, I do wonder why these two always feature together on plans… and it is said that there is a nurse there walking the halls. Alongside this are reports of screaming, bangs and direct threats on a vocal level for people to leave the property.

I could find nothing outside of the TV shows about hauntings, I am more than aware about the claims from these shows about false evidence too. Many locals seem quick to dispute the cases and tales as well, so have you anything to add?

Overbrook Station.JPG
By J. E. Bailey – Images of America: Cedar Grove, Public Domain, Link

 

It was originally known as the Eastern State Institution for the feeble-minded and epileptic, it closed 9th December 1987 after a decade of controversy. From 1903- 1908 the original buildings were constructed, there were further additions to the site in 1919, 1921 and 1929. It didn’t stop there either, more were contributed in the 1960’s and again in 1971.

23rd November, 1908, they admitted patient 1 and within four years it was overcrowded and pressured. The patients would be classified, and the status of admitted children would be seen as abhorrent these days. They ranged from the mute, blind, epileptic to deformity, offensive habits and more. Yet somehow they also for the patients into making mattresses, shoes, farming, laundry and other trades.

There were other assumptions, one of them was the Chief Physician (and eugenicist) thought that all of those of feeble mind were potential criminals.

In 1968 a CBS10 correspondent Bill Baldini anchored a five part exposé about the poor conditions. In 1983 there were nine employees on charges of patient abuse and finally the Halderman Case details the wide-spread abuse and finally resulted in its closure.

Halderman was a resident who upon her release filed suit in the federal district court. It had started when she visited her parents and had unexplained bruises, it led to the courts finding that Pennhurst was unsanitary, inhumane, dangerous and violating the fourteenth amendment (an easy summary being an Equal Protection Clause), and essentially the patients rights had been abused.

It has since been through various attempts at reincarnation for use. Now the administration building has been partially renovated and opened as the Pennhurst Asylum haunted house. It attracts quite an interest but those formerly affiliated with the place seem to find this disrespectful and controversy about it remains. Former patients, I presume from some feedback, find the tourism and sensational way it is handled as somewhat akin to a slap in the face.

Pennhurst has attracted its fair share of TV coverage, with shows like Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters (TAPS) and Haunted History in the name.

Reports on the paranormal side involve partial and full-bodied apparitions, the noises of screaming and piano playing. Along with various reports of this, those interested in the exposure of the place will find Suffer the Little Children both interesting but at the same time it can be a quite disturbing watch.

Admin-current-pennhurst.jpg
By Smccphotog (talk) (Uploads) – Own work, Public Domain, Link

 

Like many asylums this Australian institute is reportedly haunted and as of 1999 its closure has brought paranormal adventurers to the sight. It was part of a larger complex known as Mont Park, it had 750 patients at its peak and has housed some of the most mentally ill criminals in Australia.

It was the first treatment centre for Peter Dupras, a serial killer with rape and false imprisonment included in his history. It is also the birthplace of Lithium, used in the treatment of the manic episode of those suffering bi-oplar.

The asylums construction started in 1938 but WWII disrupted it, it formerly opened it’s doors in 1953. The asylum grounds now have 550 residential dwellings and the last remaining wards are due to be redeveloped.

As for ghostly goings on? Expect the usual of banging, children’s laughter and crying. One rumour of a child on the third floor of a building playing a music box kept turning up in my searches. The creepy sounds and music may well be from the local university who intend its use to scare away trespassers. As with all of these glorious old places I can see why, vandalism and graffiti disturb me more than ghosts, because ghosts down show a blatant disregard for property and history.

Atlas Obscura Entry

Wikipedia Entry 

Mont Park.jpg
By MelburnianOwn work (Digital photograph by author), CC BY 2.5, Link

Outlast and it’s DLC were developed by Red Barrels and for survival horror fans like me, this is on the top of the list. It is a first person game and in both the main game and DLC you play unfortunate chaps trying to escape a bizarre psychiatric horror. Available on PC, via Steam if you should so choose, or Xbox and Playstation. 

I’m going to attempt to review this without spoilers, except to say that if you thought the first one had crazy scenes you won’t be surprised to find out there are more in the DLC and some pretty gross moments. Neither protagonist uses combat, you’re weapon is a camera used I that sort of found footage Blair Witch-type and you get to occasionally shove someone or orchestrate movements so they end up deceased or fatally injured as you run the hell away.

In the first, main part, you play Miles Upsher, he’s the guy that heads inside to expose the atrocities. He’s been tipped off and ends up trapped inside. The DLC is Waylon Parker’s story and he risks it all to send out the e-mail that ultimately leads to Miles into the asylum.

The game has plenty of places you can explore, lots of grizzly sights and in sections some fast paces gameplay. You use your camera as a light source and so you have to watch out that you don’t blow your chances by running low on batteries.

The ‘patients’ are often unhelpful, talk gibberish are are down right psychotic/violent. It’s a best guess scenario when you meet them but that just adds to the fun factor. Put the headphones on and turn off the lights, then have a great time immersing yourself in a game to keep your heart racing.

It seems on my part to be slow on the uptake to have blogged this, given it’s fame, but here we go! And in time for Halloween 2014!

Waverly Hills Sanatorium is now closed unless you pay for a private tour group, opportunities. It resides in the State of Kentucky, USA and opened in 1910 as a two-storey hospital and closed in 1962 when the drug Streptomycin made the TB Sanatorium redundant. The plan for the building is now to turn it into a luxury hotel and funds for its renovation, preservation and conversion are raised via tours, mostly of the paranormal type.

I won’t go into details regards the TV shows that have filmed there but they include Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, Most Haunted, Worlds Scariest Places, MTV’s Fear and there is a film called Death Tunnel that was filmed on that location. Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters have both done live broadcasts for Halloween specials and the location is popular with those who watch the shows.

The land was purchased originally by Major Thomas H Hays in 1883, he opened a small private school there and hired Lizzie Lee Harris as the teacher. She loved Walter Scott’s Waverley novels and called the school Waverley. The name was liked well enough for Hays as he in turn called the property Waverley hills. The name has been changed between Waverly and Waverley Hills throughout its history but the current and likely final variation is the one of Waverly.

In the early 20th century Jefferson County (and Louisville) was stricken by the TB outbreak, the response was a two-storey wooden sanatorium that was opened on the land. It wasn’t enough to cope with the high levels of patients and so the building slowly began to take form into the large brick and concrete structure present on the site today. Thousands of people young and old made the place their home for some time and when it finally closed in 1962 the building was already a marked part of the Kentucky history.

It soon gained another use, it reopened that year as Woodhaven Geriatric Centre, for the care of those with dementia and mobility limits. It also catered for the mentally ill and unfortunately it closed in 1982 due to the discovery of patient neglect. It was understaffed and overcrowded like so many at this period in time. Due to the inaccuracy of it being labelled a mental asylum there are plenty of urban legends that took form and so it can be summarily advised that caution be given to those seeking information about the paranormal reports.

At some point in history there was a situation where the owner wanted the building destroyed but as it was listed (National Historic Register), he would need to ensure that the building was condemned. He actively encouraged vandalism and other acts of destruction on the property. When this failed he eventually gave up and sold the property in 1982.

In 1983 it was brought with the idea of changing it into a maximum security prison. It was dropped because of protests from the neighbours and then plans to adapt the place into apartments also fell through from lack of investors.

In 1996 the ownership changed to Robert Alberhasky, he wanted to construct the largest status of Jesus in the world along with an arts centre and a worship centre. Plans for this also fell through, to be honest to me this hardly seems surprising, but of over 12 millions dollars required Alberhasky only raised $3000.

In 2001 Tina and Charlie Mattingly took on ownership and now run tours to fund the restoration and conversion of the building to a luxury hotel whilst preserving as much of it’s history as possible. Naturally with the history of the place there are an abundance of ghostly tales to keep thrill seekers and ghost hunters attracted to the site.

Under the Sanatorium there is a tunnel that has been labelled the “death tunnel”, it was used to allow staff to move up and down into the hospital, the hill it resides on is very high and this was a safer method to get there. The walkways had lights and a later addition to the tunnel was to place air vents along the way. It was also used for the transport of goods, supplies and then removal of the dead.

The use of the tunnel for this purpose is why it has the paranormal reputation attached, the tunnel was used to safely transport the dead without the patients seeing them coming down the hill. The tunnel meant that the dead were taken away and it was hoped it would not deteriorate the morale of those in the sanatorium. It seems a practical use, and I have never found any stories about any tragic events down the tunnel to do with someone dying, patients reviving or other such things that might have led to the reason for a haunting. Instead it seems that the legend is purely attached to its use as a removal place for the dead.

The Death Tunnel has had reports of shadow figures, apparitions and EVP experiences. I am sure with a little digging around on the internet you are likely to find the same sort of video’s and ‘evidence’ that I have. I would understand the reputation but with it being designed for the idea of a little dignity I do find myself wondering…

However I did find that there are reports of people seeing a hearse pull up as if still collecting the dead. The hearse seems to make little sense to me, why would there be a phantom vehicle when there is no sign of this scenario being attributed to any tragic motion other than the natural movement and removal of the dead. Perhaps someone can enlighten me? Presumably either it is collecting or waiting for the next one to be shipped out.

Here are some that might be of interest:

Room 502 has a myth attached to it that a nurse died there, she was pregnant from the owner of the time and was unmarried. The tragedy continues in the tale in that she also contracted TB and so probably felt her options were utterly limited. Some say that she was murdered and others that she committed suicide hanging herself by the light-bulb wire outside the room, she now haunts this spot. The first date of this occurrence is listed as 1928 and then again four years later it is said that a nurse either fell of jumped to her death from the balcony of that room. (It is worth noting that so far no names or genuine documents for this have seemingly arrived on my investigations). What is said to be experienced, other than sightings, is a terrible feeling of despair upon entering the room.

The death tunnels reputation is also well recorded, you can find numerous accounts of peoples personal experiences along with EVP’s, Orbs and sightings of apparitions. You can find so many of these with an internet search that I haven’t felt a need to present them.

The death count is also often cited as around 63,000 with over 8,000 recorded in one single and very bad year. Presumably this high count would be attributed to the peak of the outbreak but either way it contributes to the haunted speculations. From research on the papers and data assembled many suggest that this number is widely exaggerated and that the real number is likely to be around only 10% of that. It is more likely that the total death toll would resemble more like the 8212 recorded on it’s worst year…

Whilst there is not a full list of the deaths, there is a lot of good indications that the lower figure is far more realistic. Death Certificates for the State of Kentucky were recorded and kept, they were maintained by the states and those for 1911-1953 have been made accessible. The rest are likely to be issued in the future and so going by that information and the information gathered by the press, other local sources. There is another claim that the real total (presumably suggesting much higher than 63-64k) had been covered up to keep state funding higher, in reality this would not do a thing, if anything they would exaggerate the numbers to get sympathy and more funding.

Another aspect to the speculation on the death count reality is that they say staff were dying so fast no records could be kept. This is not correct at all, for instance the Medical Director Dr Dunning S Wilson was there from 1911-1917 and did not die, he went on to carry on his career elsewhere. He is one of a few examples showing that the facts are not necessarily what go with the stories.

Another story is about the little boy who haunts corridors and likes to play by bouncing balls, this invariably leads to folks bringing them along to try and get an interaction. The ghost is said to be that of young Timmy, a six or seven-year-old boy who died there but has not yet moved on – another webister calls him Bobby. Critics say that the ball is not moved by little Timmy but instead a more mundane answer would be that the uneven floors and draughts contribute more to the movement.

Timmy is not the only young ghost there, the third floor is also said to be haunted by Mary. Again she is said to play with a ball but the stories are so similar it is entirely possible that like many the stories have simply taken on two entities (excuse the pun). With the children of the Sanatorium needing entertainment it is also said that the swing erected for them can be seem coming and that many have also heard the sounds of children singing ‘Ring a Ring a Roses’.

Perhaps a more pleasant experience for the hauntings is the smell of the cooked food that comes from the kitchens and canteen areas. Supposedly whilst there has been no food cooked there since 1982 there is a waft of food through the rooms. Slightly less exciting would be the idea of the gent that walks around in a white coat and pants…

Other reports that seem to be available include a guard seeing a floating head in a room late one night. Having passed out from fright he did not bother to return to the place. Lights have been seen despite there being no electricity and one security guard saw a television on from the third floor where he was outside, he went up to find that there was nothing out of the ordinary.

In summary there is a LOT to read and a lot to find out. I hope that you enjoyed the bits that I have put together.

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By Kris Arnold [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Waverlyhillssanatorium