(Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum Mass Grave)

2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS

(601) 984-1000

Status: Former Lunatic Asylum; Mass Grave; University Hospital



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In 1848 one hundred and forty acres of land was purchased – in what was then - 2 miles north of Jackson off of the Canton Road. With the help of Dorothy Dix – a Nationally recognized reformer and advocate for the rights of the mentally ill - the government set about constructing a modern lunatic asylum.

In 1851 the first buildings were constructed and the corner stone of the massive central complex with 2 wings had been laid. In 1855 the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum opened and began to take in patients.

As early as 1856 the asylum began to admit African-American – both slaves and free men – as patients. By 1870 the asylum’s administration began to demand equal lodging for “lunatics of color” – as they were called – as the white patients. The wards were, of course, segregated by both race and sex.

As with all asylums in the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries overcrowding quickly became an issue. The Eastern Mississippi Lunatic Asylum was opened in Meridian to help with this.

During the Civil War Union troops ransacked the facility slaughtering all their livestock and luring 7 patients to join their forces; obviously not to picky about fought for them.

In 1880’s multiple patients died due to the asylum’s water supply becoming contaminated.

In 1900 the name was changed to Mississippi State Insane Hospital.

By 1926 the patient population had soared to 2,000 with only 1,350 beds and the State earmarked $2.5 million to buy 3,333 acres in Rankin County and build a new state of art facility (known as Mississippi State Hospital which is still operational). Due to the depression and political infighting the new hospital didn’t open until 1935 at a total cost of $5 million.

It is unclear when the old asylum was demolished but by 1955 the University of Mississippi Medical Center had opened up on the site. University Hospital is on the exact parcel of land where the asylum once sat.

The University of Mississippi continued to grow around the Medical Center without anyone being any of the wiser what was waiting under the ground. In 2014 (some websites say 2012) a construction crew – while building a new parking lot – unearthed what turned out to be a massive grave dating back to the days of the asylum.

If you died at the asylum but were never claimed you were buried on site; mass graves were a common practice at the time. Despite the stories there is nothing odd or nefarious in what the asylum did.

Realizing the tremendous cost of having the third-party construction remove the remains and rebury – estimated at over $21 million – the University halted all construction. The remains are now waiting for a university project to move and rebury them; the University also has plans to build a memorial center over the mass grave once the bodies are moved.

The school will also work on identifying the remains and hoping to name at least some of them.

The Medical Center is the only academic medical center in the State and a Level 1 trauma center.


Paranormal Activity

Apparitions of what is thought to be former patients have been seen on the land where the mass grave exists; many of which are only partially clothed or fully nude. They are described as looking lost and – perhaps somewhat fancifully – as seeming to being suffering from mental illness.

Many people report a feeling of unease being anywhere near the site. Of course, thinking of 7,000 bodies under your feet will do that to most people.

Other Reported Activity: disembodied voices; phantom footsteps; light anomalies; unexplained mists – some have even been reported to be emerging from the ground itself and feelings of being watched.