Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Haunted Places

The Most Famous and Notorious Insane Asylums

Before 1844, the mentally ill were stashed away in prisons and the basements of public buildings. But in the middle of the 19th century, reformers like Dorothea Dix pushed to improve the standing of those with serious mental illness, an effort that led to the construction of sprawling psychiatric hospitals with names like the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers and the Athens Lunatic Asylum.

Many of these new facilities were built under the Kirkbride Plan, an architectural guideline which ensured the maximum amount of privacy and comfort for the patients. However the concept of "building as treatment" soon fell out of favor, and most American mental asylums became overcrowded Gothic palaces of abuse and neglect.

In the latter half of the 20th century, the invention of anti-psychotic drugs like Thorazine triggered a movement toward "deinstitutionalization" -- so much so that by the year 2000 almost all of the Kirkbride buildings had been abandoned or downsized. The shells of the grand structures, and tales of the horrors they housed, still remain. Read on to check them out.

Danvers State Hospital - Wiki Link
Built in 1878 to house 500, Danvers State Hospital (formally known the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers) had over 2,300 patients at its peak in the 1940s. Needless to say, conditions were hellish. Danvers is the rumored birthplace of the lobotomy, and doctors used that barbaric procedure, as well as electroshock therapy, to the keep the inmates in line.
The facility closed in 1992, but a plan to turn the building into condos stalled when it promptly burned down. The structure's cursed history shouldn't be that much of a surprise: It was built on plot of land once owned by John Hathorne, the most unforgiving of the Salem Witch Trial judges.

The Athens Lunatic Asylum - Wiki Link
The Athens Lunatic Asylum, or The Ridges, was a mental hospital operational in Athens, Ohio from 1874 until 1993 and has been considered one of the more haunted places on Earth ever since an incident in 1978, in which the lifeless, naked body of a missing female patient was found in an unheated room that was locked from the inside. Her corpse left a stain, and legend has it this darkened silhouette has remained ever since, despite numerous attempts to scrub it away.
It's also interesting to note that in 1876, two years after The Ridges opened, the number-one-listed cause of insanity among its male patients was masturbation, while menstrual issues were high up on the list of ills for committed females.

McLean Hospital - Wiki Link
With prominent former patients like John Nash, Ray Charles, Zelda Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath and David Foster Wallace, McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., has long had a reputation as the insane asylum for the rich and famous. The private facility was the setting for "The Bell Jar" and "Girl, Interrupted," and a teenage James Taylor wrote one of his first songs, "Knockin' 'Round the Zoo," about his stay at McLean.
In fact, the mellow-voiced singing legend credits the Thorazine-filled nine months he spent committed at McLean as a "life saver." Today, McLean Hospital is one of the most well-regarded psychiatric facilities in the world.

Pilgrim Psychiatric Center - Wiki Link
This Long Island asylum is most famous for its sheer size -- housing about 14,000 patients during its peak in the 1950s. The massive facility also featured a firehouse, a power plant, a bakery and a working farm.
Originally conceived with a "rest and relaxation" philosophy, Pilgram's treatment techniques become more aggressive with an increasing population. In addition to lobotomies and electroshock therapy, doctors at Pilgrim violently induced patients into comas using large doses of insulin and metrozol. A small part of the campus is still in use today, with its abandoned acreage now fodder for photographs and urban explorers.

Topeka State Hospital - Wiki Link
In 1913, the Kansas legislature deemed that habitual criminals, idiots, epileptics, imbeciles and the insane could be subject to castration. From then until 1961, when the inhumane procedure was banned, about 3,000 Kansans were medically rendered infertile, with majority of those castrations taking place at the Topeka State Hospital.
Even before the facility became a hotbed of eugenics, it had a notorious reputation. In the early 1900s there were reports of patients being strapped down for so long their skin had grown over their bounds. Thankfully, the Topeka State Hospital was shut down in 1997.

Bethlem Royal Hospital - Wiki Link
The  Hospital in Bromley London, is the world's oldest institution specializing in the mentally ill, and started admitting unbalanced patients in 1357. Throughout most of its history the conditions in the asylum were atrocious. For example, in the 18th century the public could pay a penny for the privilege of watching the "freaks"; they were even permitted to poke the caged patients with a long stick.
As an indication of what a house of horrors Bethlem Royal Hospital was, the word bedlam is derived from its name.

More haunts around the world

Alkimos (ship) - Wiki Link
The Alkimos was a merchant shipping vessel which was wrecked on the coast north of Perth, Western Australia, in 1963. The wreck still exists and is the subject of many mysterious rumours and stories. It is listed as a diving venue, but is also the subject of cautionary advice by diving experts. Many who have worked or otherwise ventured on board the wreck in the past now report that they would be reluctant to visit it again. It has thus become of interest to ghost hunters as well as scientific study or historical scholarship.

Joelma Building - Wiki Link
Joelma Building in São Paulo is allegedly haunted by victims of the fire that started on February 1, 1974, after an air conditioning unit on the twelfth floor of the 25 floor skyscraper overheated. Due to the fact that flammable materials had been used to make interior furniture, the entire building was engulfed in flames within 20 minutes. By the time the fire was extinguished at 1:30pm, of the 756 people in the building, 179 had been killed and 300 more were left injured. The building is famous for the "mystery of the 13 souls", i.e., people who died inside an elevator, when they were trying to escape the fire, and who would still be haunting the building.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - Wiki Link
Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh, a former high school, converted to a prison camp during the Khmer Rouge era. The museum is perhaps best known for having housed the "skull map", a huge map of Cambodia composed of 300 skulls and other bones found by the Vietnamese during their occupation of Cambodia, to serve as a reminder of what happened at the prison. The map was dismantled in 2002, but the skulls of some victims are still on display in shelves in the museum.

Pelabuhan Ratu - Wiki Link
Pelabuhan Ratu is an isolated fishing village at the south coast of West Java in the Sukabumi Regency. It is about four hours' drive from Indonesia's capital Jakarta. Legend says that Nyai Roro Kidul (Nyi is a Javanese old pronunciation of Madame), daughter of King Prabu Siliwangi, is the Queen of the South Sea. She is supposed to have committed suicide by jumping off the cliff and into the sea. Rumors say that if someone wears green when swimming (the Queen's favorite color), he or she will be pulled by her ghost into the sea. Room 308 at the Samudra Beach Hotel is set aside for the Queen.

Philippine Military Academy - Wiki Link
Baguio City - Philippine Military Academy is the training school for future officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It was established as the "Officers' School of the Philippine Constabulary" on February 17, 1905 at Intramuros, Manila, but was relocated on September 1, 1908 at Baguio City. Several ghosts haunt this place, and it considered as the most haunted place in the country. Sometimes late at night a platoon can be heard marching in the parade grounds. A ghost of a cadet dressed in parade uniform and left in one of the lockers still appears. A ghost of a priest who was beheaded during the Japanese occupation period appears here as well as the ghost of a white lady. Aside from the PMA, there are other different haunted places scattered throughout the city, such as in cemeteries, old hotels and sites where populated buildings and structures used to stand until the 1990 earthquake brought them down, injuring and killing the people inside.

The Old Changi Hospital - Wiki Link
The Old Changi Hospital in Singapore is reportedly one of the most haunted places in the country. Built in the 1930s together with an A/E opposite the road and several blocks of commando barracks cum Changi prison nearby, is located at Netherveron Road in Changi Village. The hospital survived the dreadful World War II, where the POW were held. The torture chambers in the hospital is one of the most haunted areas in the hospital itself where Prisoners of War were tortured to death. Spirits of different races and nationalities could be seen wandering around the compound.

Old Ford Motor Factory Singapore
- Wiki Link
When Ford Motor Works decided to build a new factory at Bukit Timah to replace their old premises on Anson Road, they were making history. The new Art Deco factory was the first car assembly plant in Southeast Asia. But History of a less salubrious kind was also made at the Ford Factory – on 15 February 1942, the Head of the Allied forces, Lt General A. E. Percival, surrendered to general Yamashita of the Japanese Forces there, who made Ford factory their HQ during WW2.Great battles were fought around the areas of the Ford Factory. Of the battles fought in Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Batok and Bukit Timah, the Ford factory remains the one place untouched by the advancement of Time & Civilization.There's also been lots of report about strange lights coming from the Old Ford Motor Factory.According to the stone-tape theory of ghost appearance ,it shows that once provoked, the fierce ghosts will kill, everything, like how they once killed themselves.

50 Berkeley Square - Wiki Link
50 Berkeley Square is a reportedly haunted townhouse at Berkeley Square in Mayfair, a district in the City of Westminster, on the West End of London. In the 1900s it became known as "The Most Haunted House in London." The four-storey brick town house was constructed in 1740. From 1770 to 1827 it was the home of British Prime Minister George Canning. During the subsequent Victorian Era, it was the location of reported apparitions, screams and noises. After the death of its ninety-year-old occupant in 1859, the house was unoccupied until 1880.

Airfields around England are said to have paranormal activity arising from the spirits of airmen who died in World War II.
Airfields include:
  • The former RAF Bircham Newton in Norfolk. 
  • The former RAF East Kirkby in east Lincolnshire. The control tower is haunted by a 'malign' presence.
  • The former RAF Elsham Wolds, near the A15 just north of Barnetby in North Lincolnshire. The control tower was reportedly haunted by a friendly ghost of an airman, reported in the 1950s. Phantom Lancasters have reportedly been seen taking off at night over the A15.
Alcatraz Island - Wiki Link
Alcatraz Island is an island located in the San Francisco Bay, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) offshore from San Francisco, California. Often referred to as The Rock, the small island early-on served as a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison, and a Federal Bureau of Prisons federal prison until 1963. Later, in 1972, Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received landmarking designations in 1976 and 1986. It is no longer used as a prison. Visitors and tour guides have made claims of hearing screams, slamming cell doors, and footsteps.

Aquia Church- Wiki Link
Aquia Church in Stafford, Virginia, is said to be one of the most haunted churches in Virginia. Legend says that the church and the church graveyard which has graves dating back to 1738 are both home to paranormal activity that has taken place for over 200 years.

Bobby Mackey's Music World - Wiki Link
Bobby Mackey's Music World is a nightclub and honky tonk that is currently owned by country singer Bobby Mackey and located in Wilder, Kentucky. It is self-proclaimed as "the most haunted nightclub in the USA." The site was originally used as a slaughterhouse in the early 1800s and later torn down for construction of a roadhouse that took on various names and ownership until Bobby Mackey purchased it in 1978. The headless corpse of Pearl Bryan was found at a slaughterhouse near the club. The club is reputed to be "a gateway to Hell

Civil War battlegrounds in various states
Including the Gettysburg Battlefield, the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Antietam and many others
Presumably owing to the magnitude of emotion, intensity of effort, and abruptness of the many, often gruesome and painful deaths, offer numerous anecdotes—with a growing number dating to the present day—including reported recordings, pictures and sightings of "ghostly apparitions," audible sensations (battle cries, cavalry, cannon fire) and other paranormal effects of every manner.

 There's just so many famous haunted places, too many for me to list.
Check out the links below if you are looking for more.

(And good reads)

Haunted Houses
Prarie Ghosts
Wiki Haunts
Real Haunts
Haunt World
Google Images

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