While in Athen, Ohio, the home of Ohio University, for our sons' rehearsals and concert for District Concert Band, my friends and I visited the old Athens Lunatic Asylum. More recently known as The Ridges, the main asylum building now houses an art gallery, The Kennedy Museum of Art, classrooms, an auditorium and other offices. While the wings where patients would have been housed are closed to the public and reportedly in disrepair, the main area was beautiful and brightly lit. According to online sources, the Athens Lunatic Asylum was a mental hospital from 1874 to 1993. Patients cared for at the facility included children, Civil War veterans, those with mental disabilities, and violent criminals with mental disabilities, as well as those who, today, had "mental illnesses" that medicine would now consider absurd reasons for institutionalization. Lobotomies were performed at the facility, as well as other now-discredited treatment procedures, and famous inmates included Billy Mulligan, the subject of the famous book, "The Minds of Billy Mulligan," by Daniel Keyes. Online sources state that the site was overcrowded with more inmates than were intended for the space, as well as being known for supposed paranormal sitings and activity.
Men and women were housed in separate wings that spanned out from the main center building. Built in 1868, the structure's architecture was based on the Kirkbride Plan; the main center structure held the offices, rooms and common areas, while the extensive wings held the male wards on the left, and the right, the female wards. Many inmate-patients were buried in an on-site cemetery on the property, each stone marked with numbers rather than names, although there are many military markers as well as personal markers that accompany their corresponding numbered stone. There were also burials throughout the wooded areas on the site, and those are being moved to the main cemetery as they are found. The cemeteries at the Ridges hold at least 1,975 souls and are well-maintained on a beautiful hill. Records exist to match the stone number with a loved-one.
As seen below, the structure is overwhelming and beautiful, as well as intimidating. A beautiful early spring day, I was grateful for the opportunity to visit and take some pictures of this amazingly historically rich site. For more information, as this is a very brief synopsis, please search, "The Ridges of Athens, Ohio," or visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athens_Lunatic_Asylum, or other sites. Thank you to my great friends, The Gilberts, who took me and did not leave me there.