THE RIDGES

(Athens Lunatic Asylum)(Athens Hospital for the Insane)

100 Ridges Circle, Athens, GA

(740) 592-1819

Status: Former Insane Asylum; University Building


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Both Photos Above Are Courtesy of BabyBreezeBrie


History

The asylum was first constructed between 1868-73 – in the Kirkbride style – on farmland. It was originally on a site of 141 acres (57 hectares) but would eventually fill of site of 1,000 acres (400 hectares) with 78 buildings.

The hospital cared for many vulnerable peoples including Civil War soldiers and many people declared mentally unfit for a variety of reasons and even children.

In the beginning epilepsy was the leading cause of being confined to the hospital although it was often – especially in the 19th Century - misdiagnosed as demonic possession. If demonic possession can even be called a diagnose.

Women had it the worst of it – at this and every other asylum worldwide – with such conditions as puerperal condition – a bacterial infection related to giving birth -, change of life “menopause”, menstrual derangement – thinking PMS – as well as post partum depression and just for being a woman.

Men didn’t have it much easier – of course they weren’t imprisoned just for being male - with the reasons such as intemperance and dissipation usually meaning uncontrolled excessive alcohol and/or drug use and, of course, the old favorite excessive masturbation – although a few women for locked up for that one too.

Again, much like all their contemporaries, there was a high use of treatments now considered questionable to downright malevolent including: lobotomies, insulin shock therapy, electroshock therapy, psychotropic drugs and hydrotherapy.

As the age of the large psychiatric institutions came to an end this site was transferred to the ownership of the nearby Ohio University in an attempt to keep the buildings safe from trespassing and from falling apart due to abandonment.

The University has now converted the buildings into classrooms and offices as well as a storage site for the Kennedy Museum of Arts and the campus police department.

The 3 graveyards on site have been cleaned up and repaired by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

 

Paranormal Activity

The most famous ghost is that of Margaret Schilling who tragically passed away in 1979 in an unused attic space. Unfortunately, her body was not discovered for a number of weeks which led to a permanent stain in the place where she fell.

This stain has been labeled as paranormal and its certainly possible but, most likely, its just due to the amount of time the poor lady’s remains were undiscovered which, if anything, is just very sad.

Margret’s ghost is seen staring down from the window of the room that her remains were found in. She is also seen wandering the entire complex – usually at night – which does make a certain amount of sense as when she was alive she had the run of the institution.

In the basement of the former asylum the ghosts of the institution’s darker days are reported. People have seen a number of former patients handcuffed to the walls.

Apparitions of former staff and patients have been seen both in the buildings and on the grounds. They are normally only seen from a distance and usually are very still.

Disembodied voices, crying, laughter and screams have all been reported as well as a number of other unexplained sounds and noises including the phantom squeaking of old hospital gurneys.

Strange lights also appear on the former campus.

Light anomalies and shadow figures are the most commonly reported activity in the old cemeteries.