(Capital Guardian Youth Challenge Academy)

3201 Oak Hill Drive, Laurel, MD

Status: Abandoned Psychiatric Hospital; Some Buildings have been Repurposed


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The address given above is for the Capital Guardian Youth Challenge Academy; a military based institution for troubled youth to learn discipline. That facility, as well as a raptor center, are located on the parts of the property once occupied by the asylum.

Neither of these facilities or the still abandoned parts of the asylum should be entered without an invitation.


Forest Haven opened in 1925 as a state-of-the-art facility for developmentally challenged patients in order to relieve the burden of their care from their families. In the beginning it did just that; allowing these challenged patients live together in a natural environment and no longer be viewed as just the broken and the dregs of society.

The main administration building was built between 1938 – 40 and its dedication ceremony was attended by no less than Eleanor Roosevelt; the first lady. This greatly increased space for helping the less fortunate and it really was a haven for those with special needs and those needing round the clock attention and care.

The patients were given ample time outside in the fresh air and even worked on the facility farm tending livestock and crops.

In the 1950’s things began to change as the funds available decreased and the population was on the increase.

By the 1960’s the asylum began to be a place where the unwanted and misdiagnosed were being locked up. The state-of-the-art facility was now outdated and there was no money to bring it up to date. Qualified staff began to be replaced with just warm bodies who knew nothing of caring for the disabled.

By the 1970’s abuse became the norm. The deaths on site were being counted in the hundreds and quickly buried in unmarked graves on the grounds. Patients were no longer treated – and barely controlled – and often left to wander the halls on their own.

In 1976 a class action law suit was brought against the hospital by the parents of some of the patients. In 1978 the lawsuit was won and treatment was to improve and, most importantly, Forest Haven was to close.

Unfortunately, that never happened. By the mid-1980’s the hospital was still open and now a large number of patients were dying from aspiration pneumonia; a condition caused by feeding patients while they are lying down allowing food to go into their lungs.

In 1989 police were called to the site to investigate the presence of a dead body on site. Another victim of abuse that was dressed only in a hospital gown and lying in the fetal position. An investigation concluded the patient died of aspiration pneumonia.

After the police incident the Justice Department finally starting counting the deaths of patients at Forest Haven – 10 more would die before it was mercifully closed in 1991.

Right before the closure, some of the families of the many deceased bought a granite headstone which now marks the mass grave on site.


Paranormal Activity

This hospital became a madhouse and torture chamber before finally closing. We can only hope that the tortured souls trapped here can find rest.

Apparitions of former patients and staff. Shadow figures. Feelings of being watched, not being wanted and not being alone. Empathic feelings of anger, fear, intense sadness, loneliness and a pervading sense of terror that has left some people nauseated and unable to approach the site.

Other activity: Light anomalies; unexplained mists; cold and warm spots; electrical disturbances; phantom noises and voices including bangs, heavy things being moved, laughter, crying, speaking and screams; poltergeist activity and touches of unseen presences.