Have You Visited All Of America’s Most Haunted Asylums?

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#1 Danvers Insane Asylum

It was built in 1874 and opened in 1878, on an isolated site in rural Massachusetts. It was a multi-acre, self-contained psychiatric hospital designed and built according to the Kirkbride Plan. It is rumored to have been the birthplace of the pre-frontal lobotomy.The hospital have served some 600 mental patients under its imposing gothic spires. While it was built with a surprisingly caring and modern attitude toward the mentally ill, by the 1930s the site was crowded, falling into disrepair, and was using shock therapies and lobotomies on a regular basis. The addition of criminals, alcoholics, and the mentally retarded to the overcrowded hospital made it very difficult for the hospital to help cure any of its mental patients. The hospital was shut down in 1992.

Danvers has never been a ghost hunting hotbed because the site is closed to the public. Many paranormal investigators have tried to sneak into the compound, but they got arrested before entering. The State of Massachusetts and the community police routinely patrolled the grounds. Over 120 ghost hunters have tried and failed to get access to the site. However, a few of them did succeed during the day. Only one team, The Rhode Island Paranormal Research Group, has investigated at night in the last 25 years.

A former security guard shot this video during his patrol. This is probably the most complete look inside the hospital compound.

#2 Rolling Hills Asylum

Originally, a carriage house and tavern servicing stage coaches stood there from 1790 until December 1826, when it was sold to Genesee County. The carriage house still stands on the property today. The tavern serviced travelers from Batavia, NY to Warsaw, NY traveling along what is now known as US Route 20. At that point, the facility took in paupers, unwed mothers, the insane, and orphans. Widows and orphans mingled with the mentally ill and the unclaimed dead were buried on the property.
By the early 1950s, the facility served only as a nursing home, where it was then closed by 1972; stepping aside for a new facility in Batavia, NY. After which, the building stood empty until 1992, when it was re-opened as Carriage Village, a mall of unique shops. Since then it has transformed into a paranormal investigation hot spot and has been operating public and private ghost hunting tours, paranormal investigations, historical tours and even special events. With over 1,700 documented deaths and hundreds not recorded, it’s no wonder Haunted North America rated it as the second most haunted site in the United States.

#3 Richardson Olmsted Complex

The site was designed by the American architect, Henry Hobson Richardson, in concert with the famed landscape team of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the late 1800s, incorporating a system of enlightened treatment for people with mental illness developed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. Over the years, as mental health treatment changed and resources were diverted, the buildings and grounds began a slow deterioration. In 2006, the Richardson Center Corporation was formed with a mandate to save the buildings and bring the Complex back to life through a State appropriation for this architectural treasure.

Today, the Richardson Olmsted Complex is being transformed into a cultural amenity for the city, beginning with Hotel Henry Urban Resort and Conference Center and the Buffalo Architecture Center in the iconic Towers Building and two flanking buildings (about one third of the Complex).

According to urban legend, the Henry Hobson Richardson twin tower complex is a haunted hot spot and reported to be the site of ghostly white ladies and other apparitions. “It is probably one of the best-known sites in Erie County,” said Mason Winfield, a paranormal investigator and author. “It is probably right up there with the Roycroft Inn and Old Fort Niagara in terms of ghost stories.” Construction crews working on the $57 million makeover of the circa 1870 complex tell of hearing people crying for help or equipment mysteriously being moved. Hotel Henry developer Dennis Murphy is aware of the ghost stories and has spent countless hours there day and night but has heard and seen nothing.

The remaining buildings have been stabilized pending future opportunities.

#4 Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

The hospital was authorized by the Virginia General Assembly in the early 1850s as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Following consultations with Thomas Story Kirkbride, then-superintendent of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane. Originally designed to house 250 patients in solitude, the hospital held 717 patients by 1880; 1,661 in 1938; over 1,800 in 1949; and, at its peak, 2,600 in the 1950s in overcrowded conditions. A 1938 report by a survey committee organized by a group of North American medical organizations found that the hospital housed “epileptics, alcoholics, drug addicts and non-educable mental defectives” among its population. A series of reports by The Charleston Gazette in 1949 found poor sanitation and insufficient furniture, lighting, and heating in much of the complex, while one wing, which had been rebuilt using Works Progress Administration funds following a 1935 fire started by a patient, was comparatively luxurious. 

The Trans-Allegheny was the subject of an investigation by one of the most high-profile ghost hunting teams in the U.S. – TAPS – The Atlantic Paranormal Society of the popular TV show “Ghost Hunters”. The TAPS crew came armed with a bristling array of modern technological ghost-hunting equipment, including infrared cameras, EVP devices, subsonic audio recording devices and more. They were able to capture at least one anomalous video of an apparition that has defied scientific explanation. One of the most haunted areas of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is known as the Civil War wing. Here many people have seen the ghost of a soldier who has come to be known as Jacob. Another “hot spot” is the Fourth Floor, where only the truly brave dare to spend a night or time alone. This is an area of thumping and banging noises, rustling sounds, whispering voices, eerie cackles, crashing sounds and ghost sightings.

#5 Pennhurst Asylum

Pennhurst State School and Hospital, originally known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic was an institution for mentally and physically disabled individuals of Southeastern Pennsylvania located in East Vincent, Pennsylvania.[4] After a century of controversy, it closed on December 9, 1987.

Originally called the Eastern State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic, and founded on principles of eugenics and segregation of the mentally disabled from the general population, the Spring City hospital admitted its first patient in 1908. Though it was intended to care for mentally disabled people whose family couldn’t care for them, the institution also admitted immigrants, orphans, and criminals. Many patients at the asylum had no preexisting mental or emotional conditions whatsoever, yet found themselves trapped in the institution for the rest of their lives. Upon entry, patients were sorted into categories based on imbecile or insane; epileptic or healthy; and dental categories of good, poor, or treated. These qualifications would dictate their lodgings and care. Within four years, the hospital was crowded far past its capacity.

Overcrowding is one thing, but clear-cut and systematic abuse of patients is another matter entirely. The Pennhurst Project curates first-hand accounts of the hospital, from patients and staff members, with the aim of presenting an unbiased account of what happened there.

It began when a patient visited her family and was found to have unexplained bruises on her body— it resulted in the court’s conclusion that Pennhurst’s conditions were unsanitary, inhumane, and dangerous. Staff members routinely violated the 14th amendment and the 8th amendment with their use of cruel and unusual punishment. The hospital was shut down in 1987.

At the time of its release, conditions at Pennhurst were unknown to the public. This NBC10 expose horrified its audience and shocked the public into outcry.

#6 Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital

Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital (also known as Greystone Psychiatric Park, Greystone Psychiatric Hospital, Built in 1876, the facility was built to alleviate overcrowding at the state’s only other “lunatic asylum” located in Trenton, New Jersey. Originally built to accommodate 350 people, the facility, having been expanded several times, reached a high of over 7700 patients resulting in unprecedented overcrowding conditions.[2] In 2008, the facility was ordered to be closed as a result for deteriorating conditions, overcrowding, and a new facility was built on the large Greystone campus nearby and bears the same name as the aging facility.

Paranormal investigators have reported seeing dark shadows in the tunnels below the buildings, along with a sense of being watched. The hospital was the inspiration of the 2009 movie Greystone Park, filmed by Sean Stone, son of legendary filmmaker Oliver Stone, based on their terrifying experiences while filming there.

#7 Hudson River State Hospital

The Hudson River State Hospital, is a former New York state psychiatric hospital which operated from 1873 until its closure in the early 2000s. The campus was closed and abandoned in 2003 and since then has fallen into a state of disrepair. Authorities struggle with the risk of arson and vandals after suspicion of an intentionally set fire. The male bedding ward, south of the main building, was critically damaged in a 2007 fire caused by lightning. The property was sold to an unnamed buyer in November 2013.

During its 132 year history, the property included a Tuberculosis Hospital, a number of rehabilitation buildings, housing for the criminally insane, a power house, a church, as well as a morgue with refrigerated chambers.After several fires, one in 2007 and another in 2010, the buildings were abandoned and the area was fenced off to the public.

Curiosity seekers report hearing whispered voices that seem to come from everywhere and doors slamming in empty rooms. One person who snuck in heard a disembodied voice tell him to “Get Out!” which he promptly complied with.

#8 Willard Asylum for the Chronically Insane

Willard Asylum for the Insane was opened in 1869, and soon grew to house the largest population of patients in the United States (at that time). Those admitted into its care arrived with a suitcase of their possessions, and few left once admitted. Upon their deaths, they were buried in unnamed graves across the street. In 1995 four-hundred unopened suitcases were found in the attic, most containing personal items dating from 1910 to 1960. The patients would arrive with a suitcase packed with all of the possessions they thought they needed for their time inside. Then, they would remain there indefinitely. Most never left – literally. The mental hospital had an average stay of nearly 30 years. Judging by the contents, many of the interred were considered well-to-do, possessing luxury items such as hand-blown glass perfume bottles and silver napkin rings, along with personal effects, such as photographs and letters. It was clear by the contents that the patients once led normal lives.

However, many claim that some of the patients remain even to this day in the form of spirits. Screams still echo through the empty hallways, a woman with long red hair appears and disappears, and grown men leave the building in the middle of the night in terror of what lies within. A video on the haunting’s can be found here.