Posts Tagged ‘Kirkbride’

The Ridges is located in Athens, Odio and was also know as the Athens Mental Health Center. It was there for the criminally insane and opened it’s doors 9th January 1874. It was brought by the State and Federal Government from the Coates family; it was over 1000 acres of farmland.

The main structure was built to resemble a home which was unusual when most of the asylums were effectively a house of abuse and torture with their given conditions. It was built on the familiar plans of the Kirkbride design. According to Wikipedia one of the leading causes of male insanity in 1876 was masturbation! Concerned yet? During the first three years of the hospital being open fifty six men and one women were diagnosed with this problem.

The Ridges was one that did not use bleeding, freezing and head kicks to try and shock their illness away, the more violent patients were kept away from others and until the 1900’s did not suffer too much from overcrowding. The decline of treatment however went alongside the overcrowding and without this came the fall back into the old ways.

The Ridges reverted back to a place that used shock therapy, lobotomy and physical abuse to control its patients. By 1993 the Ridges had becoming a place to shut it’s doors for good and all the patients left, well apart from one of them.

Margaret Schilling went missing 1st December 1978 and 12th January 1979 her body was found in the abandoned top floor ward N 20. The ward had been closed down for some time and despite a check of the hospital they had not thought to go into that area.

The official cause of death was heart failure, she was found by a maintenance man who found her cold, lifeless and unclothed several weeks later. Apparently you can still see a stain in the shape of a human figure, on the spot she died. It is also said that she is seen peering from the room and that voices have been heard, lights are seen and shadows, and more eerily the noise of squeaking gurneys.

A note on the body mark, I found some information whilst surfing to say that there was indeed some thought placed into the strange body shaped mark that is most definitely present. So they decided to try and work out what the mark was by determining if there were any traces of old fat deposits, owing to the lack of anything else on the site.

The site is now owned and used for OU, however the portion where the mark is has not been opened for use or to the public. It had not been chemically tested or explained, perhaps better left to myth rather than fact however they decided that this could be of forensic use to try.

The Body Farm in Tennessee has been a useful earmark in the continuous investigations about how the body deteriorates after death and the conditions under which these things change speed. Most bodies are found at the scene and have some evidence about their origin; this was a chance to try another study about remains and their effects.

Samples were collected from the light stain area, the dark area around it and the concrete in the room as a control test. They collected samples from soap, a small piece of skin from a volunteer and a cleaner called Franklin Blu-Lite which had been used on the stain.

So what did the tests show? The samples from the light area showed the human stain was produced by a degradation of a skin or fatty tissue and chemicals from the cleaner. So what they can establish is there was a body on the floor, so most likely Schilling’s retrieved corpse.

What it can’t seem to explain however is the shape it is in, if a mop or scrub has been used to clean up after the body was moved it’s been cleaned in a strange manner of following just the body shape itself, as a more general clean of the area would have left an irregular set of marks. So that’s the mystery I took from this one, less so than the rumoured haunting.

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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.