The Athens L*natic Asylum

The Athens L*natic Asylum is, without a doubt, the creepiest shut down mental health institute in the United States. Opening in 1874, the facility was originally very pleasant. It hosted two wings (one for males and one for females) with 572 rooms. Patients were able to receive personalized care from the nurses. It even had farms and its own power plant, which patients could work on to help sustain the facility.

However, by the 1950s, the institute was drastically overpopulated–holding three times the recommended amount of patients with no increase in staff. They kept the same number of staff members as they had when the population of patients was much smaller in 1874. Patients were restrained in bunks in rooms that were only ever supposed to sustain one person. Nurses would be in charge of over 50 patients and more inhuman practices, such as lobotomies and shock therapy, began to be implemented.

It wasn’t until the 1960s when psychotropic drugs (while not a perfect solution, these were more humane than previous procedures used) were administered to patients. Geriatric and drug rehabilitation programs were brought into the facility and specialized care was made available to those with congenital mental handicaps.

By the 1980s, the facility housed less than 300 patients and shut its doors officially in 1993. Staff and patients were moved to a newer facility and ownership of the buildings and cemeteries was transferred to Ohio University.

The subject of much conversation, however, is a stain on the floor of Ward N. 20. On December 1, 1979, a patient named Margaret Schilling allegedly locked herself in the unused ward. She took her clothes off and folded them neatly near her, laid down on the cement floor, and died of heart failure that could have been caused by the ward’s lack of heating. She was discovered on January 12, 1980, nearly a month and a half later. Apparently, her body decomposed in the sunlight, which left an eerie stain in her shape behind. To this day no one has managed to scrub the stain off.

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