• What to Know
  • What to Love
  • Best of Dayton
  • Event Photos
  • Newsletters

WORTH THE DRIVE: Tour the grounds of a haunted former asylum and cemetery in Athens

An early photograph of the former Athens insane asylum, The Ridges.

Credit: Southeast Ohio History Center

For a few select nights in October, guests will be able to tour one of the most haunted buildings in the state of Ohio.

The Southeast Ohio History Center, located in Athens, Ohio, will be offering historical tours of The Ridges, formerly known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, from now and throughout the end of October.

The Athens Lunatic Asylum was a mental hospital that operated in Athens from 1874 to 1993. Throughout its years, the asylum provided services to a variety of patients that included Civil War veterans, children and violent criminals — all suffering from various mental disabilities. Many inhumane and outdated mental health treatments, like lobotomies, hydrotherapy (water therapy in the form of baths, etc.), electroshock treatments and early psychotropic drugs were in practice at the asylum during its years of operation.

Surrounding the former asylum are three cemeteries that contain the graves of 1,930 former patients of The Ridges. Of those graves, 1,659 were only marked only with a number until the state of Ohio began putting names, births and deaths on each stone that was missing this information in 1943. Many of the oldest stones had not been replaced until recently.

Today, the Ridges exist as a part of Ohio University and house the Kennedy Museum of Art, an auditorium and many offices, classrooms and storage facilities.

As you might imagine, the asylum is a decidedly eerie sight, and now, for a few select dates throughout October, guests will be able to revel in the ghostly glory of The Ridges on intimate walking tours. The tours are hosted by George Eberts, a long-time Appalachian Behavioral Health employee and Athens Asylum advocate.

Guests will meet in front of the Kennedy Museum of Art and Eberts will then lead the group on an outdoor walking tour of the grounds, cemeteries and various buildings within the complex. While on the walking tour, guests will learn more about the history of mental health treatment, the asylum, the cemeteries and more as it pertains to the asylum.

Tours will be taking place on Friday, Oct. 23 at 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24 at 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30 at 10 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 for members, $18 for non-members, $10 for students and children 12 and under are free. The tour on Friday, Oct. 30, or All Hallow’s Eve, will be $25 for members, $30 for non-members, $20 for students and children 12 and under are free.

All guests are required to wear masks and the tour takes place outdoors in order to maintain proper social distancing practices.

To reserve your spot, call Dominique at 740-592-2280, ext. 100. Space will be limited, so be sure to reserve a spot as soon as possible. For more information about The Ridges, Kennedy Museum of Art, the Southeast Ohio History Center and tour offerings, pay a visit to athenshistory.org .

About the Author

Ashley Moor is a Dayton native and graduate of Kent State University. She is a multimedia journalist for Dayton.com, and strives to provide impactful stories about the community and its people.

Large Ouija Board Planchette - Pink, Black and White

The Ridges Asylum: A Chilling Walk Through Ohio’s Dark Past

Why should you visit the ridges.

Hey there, my fellow urban explorers & paranormal investigators! I know you’re probably thinking, “Why on earth would I want to visit the exterior of an old insane asylum?” But trust me, the Ridges is one of those places that will keep you coming back for more.

First of all, the history of this place is just mind-blowing. You can feel the energy of the past as soon as you drive up to the campus. And even though the treatments that went on inside these walls were pretty horrific, the asylum is now a beautiful place to visit with walking trails. There are also two cemeteries, a pond, and even a putt-putt course. While walking around the campus, for a moment, you may not realize how dark things once were.

I know seeing the inside is usually the best part, but it’s rare to get inside these buildings unless you’re a student here. However, I may have a little secret up my sleeve about seeing the interior of the Ridges. So, if you’re ready for a truly unique and unforgettable experience, come and check out the Ridges with me!

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read full privacy policy  here .”

Table of Contents

The Main Building of the Ridges Asylum with a bright blue sky above.

History of the Ridges

The Ridges Asylum, also known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, was built in 1874 in Athens, Ohio. The facility was designed to care for people with mental illnesses and was one of the first institutions of its kind in the state.

The asylum was in operation for over 100 years and was in operation from 1874 until as recently as 1993. During this time it housed thousands of patients and was designed to provide services to a variety of patients, including Civil War veterans, children, and those declared mentally unwell.

During the early years of the asylum, the treatment of patients was considered to be progressive and humane. However, as time passed, the institution became overcrowded and underfunded, and the treatment of patients became increasingly inhumane.

Patients were subjected to harsh conditions, including overcrowding, and inadequate food. Many were also subjected to experimental treatments, such as lobotomies and electroconvulsive therapy, which were considered to be controversial at the time.

When the asylum finally closed, the buildings and grounds were left abandoned, and the site became a popular location for urban exploration.

What Type of Patients Were Here

The first patient admitted was a 14-year-old girl with epilepsy, who they thought was possessed by a demon. Sadly, Epilepsy was actually considered one of the major reasons for admitting patients to the asylum in the early years. Can you even imagine? 

But it wasn’t just epilepsy that was considered a cause of insanity. Ailments like menopause, alcohol addiction, and tuberculosis were also reasons for being admitted to the asylum!

Unfortunately, women were often institutionalized for unnecessary or outright fallacious reasons. Postpartum depression or “hysteria” were labeled as insanity and they were sent to the asylum to “recover” .

Here’s something that’ll really shock you though, in the asylum’s first three years of operation, 81 men and one woman were diagnosed as having their insanity caused by masturbation. Yikes!

Today it has been reported that the words, “I was never crazy” are scrawled into various places in the building. That is absolutely devastating. 

Pond covered with green algae and surrounded by trees

The cemeteries on site have sad stories of their own. The mistreatment was terrible in itself, but even in death many of these people didn’t get the respect they deserved until many years later. 

There are over 1,900 people buried at the three cemeteries located at The Ridges. Prior to 1943, many of the headstones were only marked with a number, with no names or identifying information about the person buried there.

After 1943 they finally started to label the sites with the appropriate information, but by the 1980s the state stopped taking care of the cemeteries altogether. 

With no supervision or care, natural occurrences and vandals destroyed the headstones and the cemeteries.  Many of the headstones were left in disrepair, with hundreds left uprooted and broken. 

But in 2000, the Athens, Ohio chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) stepped in to help restore the cemeteries to their original state. They discovered more information on the unidentified patients, who were mostly veterans. 

NAMI has made it their mission to honor these veterans and all of the patients buried at The Ridges. They’ve helped replace headstones, kept the grounds in proper condition, and even started organizing Memorial Day Ceremonies to give these veterans the recognition and dignity they deserve.

Today the cemeteries at the Ridges are scenic and beautiful. It’s quite fascinating to walk through and see the various headstones of the lost. 

Headstone with an American Flag next to it. Orange fall grass surrounds it.

Experience the Location

It is incredibly important to remember and learn from the past, and that’s why places like The Ridges are worth visiting and understanding their history. 

Exploring the location of a historical site such as The Ridges offers a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the past. 

As you walk through the campus and really feel this place and take in the beautiful scenery. It truly is a photographer’s paradise. You may also witness the present day activities of the Ohio State University Students, heading to class or joggers who are running their daily path.

Oh, did I not mention that part… The campus for the Ohio State University is actually built on the grounds of the former Ridges, and remnants of the abandoned Kirkbride buildings can still be seen up on this hill! Many of these beautiful old buildings are now being repurposed. They have an art museum, an auditorium and even classrooms! 

Visiting the Ridges allows for a meaningful blend of past and present experiences.

The fire escape at the main building of the Ridges

Plan Your Visit

Today you can pretty much walk the grounds at your leisure. If you want to see the buildings from the outside you are free to do that, and once you’ve finished, there are a few walking trails that you can take to see more of the outskirts of the property and cemeteries. 

Now, if you prefer a more guided experience be sure to check out their historical  walking tours .

Details from their website: 

Join long-time Appalachian Behavioral Health employee and Athens Asylum advocate, George Eberts, for an engaging tour of the grounds and cemeteries. Learn about the history of mental health treatment, from the Kirkbride Plan to the present day, as well as George’s personal anecdotes. Dates for the asylum will be as follows:

  • April 9th- 2pm 
  • May 14th- 2pm
  • June 11th- 2pm
  • July 9th- 2pm
  • August 13th- 2pm
  • August 27th- 2pm
  • September 10th- 2pm
  • October 8th- 2pm
  • October 29th- 2pm
  • October 30th-1pm
  • October 30th- 5pm

Tours meet in front of the Kennedy Museum of Art

100 Ridges Cir, Athens, OH 45701-6812, United States

****Due to the popularity of our tours we do require preregistration.****

Call SOHC at 740-592-2280 ext.100 to reserve your spot. Space will be limited. We will update the list above as tours sell out.

Ticket Prices :

  • SOHC Members: $15
  • Non-members: $18
  • Students: $10
  • Children 12 and under: Free
  • SOHC closes at 3:30pm so please plan to visit us before the asylum tour!

Reminder: this is a two hour outdoor walking tour, so please plan accordingly.

Rain Policy:  We conduct the Asylum Tour in rain or shine so please bring appropriate clothing and umbrellas as conditions require. Cancellation will take place only if dangerous weather such as lighting storm or high winds are active. In winter months, if there is a level 2 or 3 snow emergency, the tour will be canceled as well. In the event of cancellation, those with prepaid tickets can call us and choose either another tour or receive a refund. REFUND POLICY:  Refunds will be given only under the following circumstances: • Requests that are pre-paid and made at least 48 Hours prior to tour. • Active lightening storms- you will be given either tickets to attend another tour of your choice, or, ticket price will be refunded. Rain DOES NOT cancel the tours- please bring appropriate rain/weather gear. • Level 2 or higher snow emergency

Now, I’d mentioned above about seeing the interior of The Ridges. It is not a regular circumstance to be invited inside these old buildings, unfortunately. However, there are a few ways you can possibly see the inside for yourself. 

  • Enroll as a student – Obviously, this is not the most likely scenario, but students do have access for a few spots on campus up here. 
  • Visit the Kennedy Art Museum. The main building is home to the art museum, and you can go inside to see the various exhibits. -Gallery Hours are: M – F: 10am – 5pm, TH: 10am – 8pm, Sat – Sun: 1pm – 5pm. 
  • The last option is the hardest to snag, but sometimes, once per year, the historical society offers a historical tour around Halloween. They do take you through the interior, but you’ve got to be fast to snag these tickets. When this tour is offered, you can find tickets on their site. (Same as the walking tour above!) 

Potato Pizza covered in tomato sauce and cheese

Other Notable Spots

The Ridges is great all on its own, but you’re bound to get hungry! We LOVE Avalanche Pizza, and can’t recommend it enough! If you enjoy unique pizza, you’ve found your place! Here is their  menu .

If time allows and you want more haunted spots to check out, visit Lake Hope Furnace and the  Moonville Tunnel ! 

If you can’t make it out to The Ridges, watch our video to learn more! 

Related Posts

Pink Exterior of the Buxton Inn

“Experience the Chills and Thrills of Spending a Night at the Haunted Buxton Inn – Are You Brave Enough to Stay?”

The inside of the Moonville Tunnel

Would You Visit the Notoriously Haunted Moonville Tunnel at Night?

The exterior of the Mansfield Reformatory with a tree branch in the upper left corner.

What Really Happens When You Visit the Haunted Mansfield Reformatory at Night?

1 thought on “the ridges asylum: a chilling walk through ohio’s dark past”.

Pingback: Would You Visit the Notoriously Haunted Moonville Tunnel at Night? - Skulls and Kittens

Leave a Comment Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Walking Tour of the Historic Athens Asylum

November 14, 2020

Walking Tour of the Historic Athens Asylum Tour the famous Athens Asylum, one of the few Kirkbride Asylums left. George Eberts, long time Asylum employee and local expert on the Athens Asylum, will be leading an outdoor walking tour of the historic Asylum grounds and buildings. His insights on patient treatment throughout the asylum’s 150-year existence are peppered with stories, personal anecdotes, and hidden locations throughout the grounds. Learn about the history of the famed Kirkbride and other buildings, the renowned landscaped grounds, historic cemeteries, and the evolution of mental health treatment from the inception of this storied institution until its closure a quarter century ago. The tour will last approximately two hours. Due to Ohio University restrictions, access to the inside of the buildings is limited, but you can tour the main entryway as well as the Kennedy Museum. We meet at the Kennedy Museum of Art, in front of the original Administration Building of the Athens Asylum- 100 Ridges Circle, Athens, OH 45701. This is an outdoor tour so please plan accordingly. MASKS ARE ENCOURAGED, but not required. Social Distancing will also be practiced. This is an outdoor walking tour and will cover the entire loop of the grounds including the cemeteries so if you have small children, bring a stroller! Ticket Prices: Southeast Ohio History Center Members - $15 Regular Non-Member Adult - $18 *Non-members can also pay $20 and receive admission to the History Center too! Students with a Student ID- $10 Children 12 and Under Are Free For more information or to reserve a space on the tour contact the Southeast Ohio History Center at 740-592-2280. Tickets can be purchased at the History Center at 24 West State Street in Athens. Tours do sell out regularly, so please reserve your tickets prior to the tour. Rain Policy: We conduct the Asylum Tour in rain or shine so please bring appropriate clothing and umbrellas as conditions require. Cancellation will take place only if dangerous weather such as lighting storm or high winds are active. In winter months, if there is a level 2 or 3 snow emergency, the tour will be canceled as well. In the event of cancellation, those with prepaid tickets can call us and choose either another tour or receive a refund.

asylum tour ohio

Event Information

Saturday 2:00 - 4:00

Tree

Explore Hocking Hills

  • Future Students
  • Parents/Families
  • Alumni/Friends
  • Current Students
  • Faculty/Staff
  • MyOHIO Student Center
  • Visit Athens Campus
  • Regional Campuses
  • OHIO Online
  • Faculty/Staff Directory
  • Current Use
  • Development Strategy
  • Renovations & Investments

Helpful Links

Navigate OHIO

Connect With Us

Patients are seen in the hallway of The Ridges during the early 1900s.

History of The Ridges

The Ridges was originally developed as the site for Athens Lunatic Asylum, 150 years ago. The main structure that functioned as the mental hospital building was designed under the famous Kirkbride plan and gave this structure its memorable and beautiful layout. After years of declining patient numbers and the onset of the de-institutionalization movement in the 1980’s the mental hospital saw its inevitable end, and in the early 1990’s Ohio University acquired the entirety of the land and buildings. 

Current Use of The Ridges

History At a Glance

  • Dr. Thomas Kirkbride's plan  outlined a new approach to the challenges of mental illness. Kirkbride advocated for Moral Treatment: An approach that emphasized humane conditions with the goal of rehabilitating patients to the highest extent possible. This included creating the physical building to certain specifications including size, access to light and fresh air, a natural setting for recreation, stimulation and farming.
  • 1868 —  On November 5, 1968, the first cornerstone was laid.
  • 1874 —  Asylum opened
  • 1880 — A decade-long endeavor started, called the Healing Landscape , to update landscaping to make the area a sustainable healing community. Work included designing a water purification system and ponds, farming/working fields, boating, grading/filling/leveling fields, adding a vegetable garden and permeable boundary, livestock, a greenhouse, orchard, and more.
  • 1903 —  Moral Treatment model shifted to Custodial care model. This new plan shifted from asylum-based care to research-based modern medicine specialties. Cottages were constructed to house even more patients, grouping patients in dormitory-like rooms.
  • Throughout the 1950s, psychiatry sought new ways to help patients and alleviate their suffering, including hydrotherapy, electro shock, lobotomy and art therapy.
  • In the 1950's, a major breakthrough happened with the release of the first psychotropic drugs for treatment of mental illness. This provided sometimes dramatic improvements in mental function, reducing the need for institutionalization.
  • 1970s-1980s — Asylum population was reduced from 1,800 to 200 by 1985. A new modern hospital was built (Appalachian Behavioral Health Care).
  • 1988 —  State transferred the facility to the stewardship of Ohio University. community contest renamed the Asylum to The Ridges.
  • 1993 —  Last patients transferred to nearby Appalachian Behavioral Health Care facility.

Historical Overview

This information is largely based on the "Historical Overview of the Athens State Hospital" prepared by Nancy Recchie and is used with her permission.

The large complex of buildings sited on a wooded hillside overlooking the campus of Ohio University, which is known today as The Ridges, was originally called the Athens Lunatic Asylum and later the Athens State Hospital. As it was originally conceived during the late 19th century with additional building in the early 20th century, the construction and development of this facility for the mentally ill was a massive undertaking.

Opening in 1874, the Athens asylum represented the vanguard in the treatment of mental health patients. It was based on the ground-breaking work of Dorothea Dix, a social reformer, and Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, superintendent of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane for 43 years, who became a leader in the Moral Treatment concepts as the basis for asylum design and construction. Three Ohio mental institutions were constructed according to the “Kirkbride Plan” — Dayton, Athens, and Columbus (since demolished).

Dr. Thomas Kirkbride was a leading proponent of the theory that the institution itself - in its design and administration — played a key role in the cure of its patients.

The site was considered as important as the building, and Kirkbride suggested that mental institutions be located in the country and besurrounded by attractive scenery. In addition,  he suggested that every hospital have adequate acreage for “farming, gardening, exercise, labor and occupation.” The development of the grounds began in the 1870s and continued for many years.

Landscape Architect Herman Haerlin, from Cincinnati, worked with Athens gardener George Link to create a parklike setting of approximately 60 acres. By the early 20th century, there were four ponds, a waterfall, paths and a large variety of types of trees, plants and flowers.

By the turn of the century, mental health advocates were beginning to advocate a different physical plan for treatment of the mentally ill — the cottage plan. The gaining popularity of this movement is evident from the number of independent buildings constructed during the first decade of the 20th century.

The facility adapted to evolving theories of the best practices for treating mental health patients and in the 1940’s the facility was renamed the Athens State Hospital.

This site is cherished by the local community as many residents have family members that worked at the Ridges or were patients there. The community and county residents used the grounds of the Ridges as a public park and many have fond memories of picnicking and going to see the alligator that once resided in the fountain at The Ridges. By the 1980s treatment for the mentally ill changed radically and moved away from institutionalization toward treatment in the community -- either as out-patients or in smaller group homes placed in residential neighborhood settings.

This course of action led to the closing of the Athens State Hospital complex and discussion of its possible demolition. Instead, the State of Ohio transferred the property to Ohio University, which has been gradually upgrading the buildings as new uses are found for the space. 

Digital Archives

Get Involved

asylum tour ohio

Experience deep history, abundant stories and stunning natural beauty.

Whether you’re planning a day trip—or just want to see what’s nearby—you’ll be inspired to get out and enjoy all that Ohio’s rich heritage has to offer. Before you travel, and once you’re there, be sure to See Ohio First!

How would you like to see Ohio?

Explore by theme.

We've created categories to get you started exploring.

Search on your own

Have a particular travel date, place to visit or interest already in mind?

Have a look at our exciting tours!

The Ridges is a district of Ohio University centered around the former Athens Insane Asylum.

The Ridges is a district of Ohio University centered around the former Athens Insane Asylum. Built in 1874 by the State of Ohio, the asylum housed mental patients until it was closed in 1993. After being purchased by Ohio University, the site is now called The Ridges and is the location of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Many of the asylum buildings still stand, but are not open to the public. Even still, the main building towers over the landscape and The Ridges provides a hilltop view of the city of Athens. There are hiking trails located on site. The Cemetery Trail takes you alongside the asylum cemetery containing numerous marked and unmarked graves. Between the three cemeteries, 1,930 people are buried here. The Ridges Trail takes you up to Radar Hill alongside OH-682, providing a view of Athens’ west side. The Southeast Ohio History Center provides monthly tours of the district for $15. Tours are scheduled for the third Sunday each month between March and December.

Notes for Travelers

Due to their close proximity, consider visiting the Kennedy Museum of Art and the Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center during your visit. If you’re thinking about taking a tour, the Southeast Ohio History Center strongly suggests pre-registering via phone call.

Additional Resources

Main navigation

asylum tour ohio

The Athens Lunatic Asylum “The Ridges” 

  • July 17, 2024

In a city named Athens, in Ohio, you can find the former Athens Lunatic Asylum, which was built in 1868. Today, this huge building belongs to the Ohio University and offers space to the Kennedy Museum, an auditorium, an office, several classrooms, a storage facility and… a couple of ghosts. The students have gotten used to them, well, kind of. 

The history of the Athens Lunatic Asylum  

Dan Keck via flickr public domain

The first patient to be admitted to the asylum was a 14-year-old girl with epilepsy. Her parents thought she was possessed by a demon and therefore locked her away. From 1874 to 1993 this was a facility for people with all kinds of mental illnesses. People who were admitted were Civil War veterans, rebellious teenagers, homeless people, elderly people and even violent criminals. Also, tuberculosis patients were taken care of in the seven cottages which are part of this massive terrain. The asylum  is about 4000 acres  ( 400 ha)  large, which can be compared to  800 soccer fields.

More and more buildings were added when the number of patients increased. When the building was abandoned, there were 78 buildings on the premises. The asylum wasn’t self-sufficient, even though it could have been. There were cattle, greenhouses, an orchard, a dairy farm, and the water came from self-dug wells. There are also three cemeteries on the premises, because where people live, people die.  Today, the Athens Lunatic Asylum is named The Ridges. This name was chosen in name contest which was organized in 1984. Until then, it had at least 8 other names.  

The Kirkbride Method  

Thomas Kirkbride - Frederick Gutekunst via commons.wikimedia public domain

Dr. Thomas Kirkbride believed the keywords for mental patients were rest, cleanliness and regularity. Men and women were treated separately in their own wing and even had their own dining halls. The main building could house up to 572 patients, but that is double the amount Kirkbride would advise. At its peak, over 2,000 patients were being treated, which, of course, was unacceptable according to the method. The asylum created a lot of employment for people living in the surrounding area, but this medical staff was often unskilled.

This made procedures such as the much-feared lobotomy treatments risky. During these treatments, a thick needle was drilled into the patient’s skull, into the brain, through a spot right above the eye. Apart from the fact that a wrong lobotomy could lead to death, it could also lead to a condition in which the patient would be locked inside their own body forever. Another feared treatment, called hydrotherapy, was performed daily. During this treatment, the patient would be bathed in extremely cold or extremely hot water. And  last but not least  there was the electroshock therapy method, in which a patient was exposed to a highly dosed power surge which caused the body to convulse. Sometimes these convulsions were so intense, that even bones would break.   

Reasons for patients to be admitted  

Ridges Night Shift Staff - public domain Wikipedia

Back then, there was an enormous list which was used as a manual for admitting people at an asylum. Things like the menopause, menstruation issues, alcohol abuse, epilepsy and even asthma were “illnesses” that were to be treated in an asylum back in the days. It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? But the main reason people were admitted to the asylum was… masturbation. And this is no joke. When a family member was admitted, all contact was broken off. That was best for the patient according to the Kirkbride Method. That is perhaps why some people (700 women and 959 men) who died during their stay at the asylum were buried on the premises with only a number on the headstone.  

The cemeteries  

Athens LunaticAsylum graveyard - Justin Masterson via flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

A total of 1930 people were buried at the asylum’s cemeteries. Some patients were claimed by family members after they died and buried elsewhere, but most family members were ashamed of the fact there was mental illness in the family. They didn’t want anything to do with that person anymore. From 1943, headstones were given names and data. Unclear is what caused the change because before that, only a number was given. Over 80 Civil War veterans are buried there as well. They were eventually honored in 2000 by the NAMI: The National Alliance of Mental Illness. They organize an annual memorial for these soldiers. The cemeteries are now under the maintenance of the Ohio Department of Mental Health.   

Asbestoses in the walls  

Almost all buildings have been renovated when the Ohio University moved in. All, except for “Cottage B”, one of the 7 cottages used for patients with tuberculosis. The walls and ceiling of this  particular cottage  were  literally  packed with asbestosis. This is ironic, knowing this cottage was used for people whose lungs were already very sick. The other cottages were renovated into campus for students who study at the university.   

  In the news   

Athens body stain of Margaret Shilling - pinterest source unknown

The Athens Lunatic Asylum hit the news at least twice, and not in a good way. The first time was in 1977, when multiple personality rapist Billy  Milligam  was admitted. He committed several felonies including armed robbery raping three Ohio State University students on campus. His attorneys claimed his other personalities committed the crimes without him even knowing it. A year later, on December 1, 1978, the Athens Lunatic Asylum was in the papers again, this time because patient Margaret Shilling had disappeared from her department.

They searched everywhere, except on the top floor of Building 20, where her decomposing corpse was found 42 days later by a caretaker. She was found naked, on her back, with her arms crossed over her chest. Prior to her death, she took off her clothes and neatly folded them and put them on a chair.  According to the pathologist, Margaret died of natural causes. She had a cardiac arrest. Did she feel it coming? There are a lot of mysteries surrounding her death. When her body was taken away it left an impression on the concrete floor. Probably due to the decomposition in combination with the bright sun coming through the large windows. The stain Margaret left behind is impossible to clean, even up to this day.     

Ghosts of the Athens Lunatic Asylum  

Athens from above - Asoep44 via commons.wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0

Many people claim both the former asylum and the cemeteries are haunted. But there are more recent hauntings as well. The fact that part of the area used to be an Indian burial ground, makes it even more spooky. Some buildings are still vacant, so who knows what ghosts lurk there?  

The main building  

The main building is now called Lin Hall. Today it houses music, geology, biotechnology offices as well as the Kennedy Museum of Art. Strange figures have been seen roaming around the old floors. Others have heard disembodied voices, footsteps and screaming. Most appealing to the imagination is the basement. Some claim severely disabled patients were kept on chains in this dungeonlike place. Some say they’ve even heard chains being pulled.

There is no evidence that patients were ever chained to the walls here, but the arches in the basement sure look creepy. The ghost of Margaret Shilling has been seen looking out of the window from the place she was found, but she’s also been seen on  other  floors. Doors open and close by themselves and people hear footsteps when they are alone. People also “feel” the presence of others and shadow people are frequently seen. A man with a long, black coat creeps out students in the men’s room for years.  

Athens Lunatic Asylum wall - Sarah Hina via flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

The cemeteries have been vandalized during the time the buildings were abandoned. Shadowy figures and strange lights have been seen here. In one area, the shapes of the graves form a perfect circle, which is rumored to be a witches’ meeting point.  

Wilson Hall   

Nearly all the buildings on the West Green are haunted. This is where the Indian burial grounds were located. Wilson Hall is no exception. This is the most haunted dormitory on the campus. This hall is also right in the middle of a pentagram formed by several cemeteries in the Athens region. Most hauntings occur on the fourth floor. Apparitions have been seen, voices have been heard and doors slam shut by themselves. A student committed suicide in a room on the fourth floor.  

The Convo  

Athens Kennedy Museum of Art - Leslie K. Dellovade via wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.0

The Convocation Center, The Convo in short, is also located in the West Green area. This place is haunted by several ghosts, mostly in the dormitory part of the building. A Resident Assistant was supposedly killed by her boyfriend here, and she now roams the corridors. A student who died here in his sleep now tends to embrace other students while they are sleeping.     

Washington Hall   

Washington Hall is in the East Green area and the dormitory is allegedly haunted by an entire basketball team of high school girls. They were killed in a bus accident after they visited the university. Students have reported  hearing  running feet and bouncing basketballs.   

The Athens Lunatic Asylum today   

Dan Keck via flickr public domain

Today, the Athens Lunatic Asylum or The Ridges as what it is now called, is an operating campus. You cannot just visit it, but there are some tours that you can take. There’s the Asylum Tour provided by the Athens County Historical Society and Museum. This is not a ghost tour. They used to have ghost tours around Halloween, but they are very limited. Please note that you cannot explore the vacant buildings on your own. If you really want to experience the hauntings, there’s only one thing to do: go back to school!  

Cover photo: Sarah Hina via flickr CC BY-NC 2.0 Sources:   wikipedia , legendsofamerica.com, atlasobscura.com, hockinghills.com and onlyinyourstate.com   Address : S. Plains Rd, Athens, Ohio, 45701 USA  

  • Lunatic Asylums

Continue Reading

asylum tour ohio

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane  

  • England, Europe

asylum tour ohio

Most haunted colleges and campuses in the world

  • Alabama, England, Europe, Germany, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Scotland, Toronto, USA

asylum tour ohio

Haunted pubs and bars in Edinburgh

  • Europe, Scotland

asylum tour ohio

Drovers Inn

Select Your City

The athens lunatic asylum.

The Athens Lunatic Asylum, now a development known as The Ridges, was a mental hospital in Athens, Ohio. It was in operation from 1874 until 1993. During its tenure, the hospital provided a wide variety of services to many different types of patients including Civil War veterans, children, and those who were declared to be ‘mentally unwell’ including violent criminals. The hospital is best known as a site of the infamous lobotomy procedure, as well as countless ghostly sightings.

One may think Ohio is unassuming in regards to hauntings, but let us prove otherwise with our Cincinnati ghost tour !

Athens Asylum Construction

Levi T. Scofield of Cleveland, Ohio was the original architect for the building. The hospital grounds were designed by Cincinnati’s Herman Haerlin. The design was influenced by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, a 19th-century physician who developed a special type of design style for mental asylums, which are characterized by their bat-wing floor plan and sprawling grounds.

The land where the hospital was built belonged to the Arthur Coates and Eliakim H. Moore farms. The ground was broken in mid-autumn of 1868, with the first iteration of the asylum consisting of only 141 acres, much less than the usual Kirkbride designs of the time. Over the years, the hospital sprawled, and it grew to occupy over 1,000 acres.

The Asylum’s Operating Years

Athens Lunatic Asylum opened its doors for operation on January 9th, 1874. Within two years, the hospital was renamed The Athens Hospital for the Insane and changed names, some a bit questionable, a few times before finally landing on the Athens Mental Health Center.

Many Kirkbride asylums operated as makeshift communities — for decades the hospital had livestock, gardens, and farming fields. It also included an orchard, a dairy, a plant to generate steam heat, and a carriage shop. A large percentage of the labor carried out daily on the farm was done by the hospital’s patients. Skilled labor was seen by the Kirkbride Plan as a form of therapy and was also economically advantageous to the state.

The asylum expanded exponentially by 1950, where two other hospitals and cottages are built to house more patients. by the mid-1950s, the hospital was the town’s largest employer with 1,800 patients on a one-thousand-nineteen acre, 78 building campus. At its peak, the Athens Lunatic Asylum served fifteen Ohio counties.

The Asylum’s Patients

The first patient treated at the hospital was a 14-year-old girl with epilepsy, which was considered to be caused by the possession of a demon. Epilepsy was a reason for admission in the early years of the asylum. The first annual report stated that 31 men and 19 women were admitted due to epilepsy during the first year.

Ailments such as alcohol addiction, tuberculosis, and menopause were cause for enrollment at the asylum. For female patients, the leading causes of their ‘insanity’ were ‘change of life,’ ‘menstrual derangements,’ and ‘hysteria.’ Women with postpartum depression were also sent to the asylum to recover. As one can see, patients were often institutionalized for ridiculous and sometimes even fallacious reasons.

Records from the asylum tell of what caused mental illness during the time of its operations, as well as the practice of lobotomies and other harmful treatments. The Ohio University collected information in regards to the training that the asylum employees underwent, some of which had none. More disturbing is the documentation of electroshock therapy, lobotomy, hydrotherapy, and early psychotropic drugs, most of which have become known as being extremely inhumane.

Decline and Closure

The mental health industry rapidly changed in the 1950s for the better. Research began to show that the mentally ill did not pose an inherent danger to the people around them and it wasn’t necessary to separate them from their homes and communities. The public also was becoming aware of the risks and inhumane nature of procedures like lobotomies and electroshock therapy. The availability of medicines for the treatment of mental illness was also increasing, and allowed for most patients to be treated without the need for institutionalization.

The Athens Asylum declined through the end of the 20th century and eventually closed in 1993. In the same year, the Athen’s Lunatic Asylums’ property was deeded to Ohio University. The college kept the property in good shape and it was maintained for reuse.

Urban exploration and modern ruins became increasingly popular through media and Kirkbride Plan asylums enjoyed a renewed sense of attention, such as Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts.

The property was restored into a mixed-use development called ‘The Ridges.’ and most of the buildings have been renovated and turned into classrooms and offices.

The Mysterious Cemeteries

Many mysteries surround the asylum due to the secrecy and lack of information surrounding the patents who were treated there. What is known, is that there are 1,930 people buried across three cemeteries located at The Ridges. Most of these people were patients who were unclaimed by their families and are marked only with a number — their names dying with them, a truly heartbreaking thought. By the 1980s the cemeteries were no longer being taken care of, and vandalism as well as natural weathering caused irreparable damage. These days, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is working to gather information about the patients buried there, and to restore their headstones and the cemetery as a whole, bringing their memory back to the forefront.

Hauntings of the Athens Lunatic Asylum

While many deaths occurred in and around the asylum, as few truly stand out. One tells of a patient named Margaret Schilling, who disappeared on December 1st, 1978. It wasn’t until January the following year that her body was discovered in a long-abandoned ward. While her autopsy showed she died of heart failure, she was found completely named with her clothing neatly folded next to her body. More interesting in the permanent stain that her body left behind, imprinted on the floor, unable to be removed by numerous cleanings. Her spirit is said to be seen staring down from the window of the room where her body was found, she’s also been seen attempting escape, and is known the wander the building at night.

Other former patients are also said to have stayed behind, appearing as full-bodied apparitions standing in the empty wings of the former hospital, disembodied voices and yells. Squeaking gurneys, strange lights, and screams are also commonplace. Even more frightening, there are rumors that patients who were shackled in the basement for ‘bad behavior’ still remain.

The cemeteries are all reportedly haunted as well. Shadow figures running and hiding behind trees and headstones are reported, and in one area, the grave’s linear shapes form a circle, which is said to be an old witches meeting spot.

While the truth is mixed in with legend when it comes to the asylum, there is no doubt that many people suffered here at the hands of abusive staff members and archaic methods of healing. Spirits of those who died and were forgotten are the loudest, banging on the windows and the walls of the old asylum, wandering the grounds, looking to catch the attention of anyone who comes looking for them.

For another spooky asylum down under, check out our article about Australia’s Aradale Asylum!

Sources Cited:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athens_Lunatic_Asylum

https://www.hockinghills.com/members/The_Ridges.html

Legends of America

Legends of America

Traveling through american history, destinations & legends since 2003., haunted athens asylum for the insane, ohio.

Athens Asylum

Athens Asylum

Today, this complex, called the Ridges, is part of Ohio University, but these historic buildings once housed the Athens Lunatic Asylum. Not only are these buildings steeped in history, but some are also said to still “host” visitors from the past.

The historic hospital got its start in 1867 when the Ohio Legislature appointed a commission to find a site for an asylum in southeastern Ohio. A suitable site was found in Athens, and Levi T. Scofield was chosen as the architect. The buildings and grounds’ designs were influenced by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, a 19th-century physician who authored a book on mental hospital design. His designs were often recognizable for their “batwing” floor plans and lavish Victorian architecture.

The original design included an administration building with two wings, one that would house the males and the other for females. The building itself was 853 feet long, 60 feet wide, and built with red bricks fired from clay dug on-site. Built onto the back were a laundry room and boiler house. Seven cottages were also constructed to house even more patients. There was room to house 572 patients in the main building, almost double of what Kirkbride had recommended, leading to overcrowding and conflicts between the patients.

The administrative section, located between the two resident wings, included an entrance hall, offices, a reception room on the first floor, the superintendent’s residence on the second floor, and quarters for other officers and physicians on the 3rd and 4th floors. A large high ceiling amusement hall filled the 2nd and 3rd floors, and a chapel was included on the 4th floor. Behind and beneath the building’s public and private spaces were the heating and mechanical systems, kitchens, cellars, storerooms, and workspaces.

The site, which was first comprised of 141 acres, would eventually grow to 1,019 acres, including cultivated, wooded, and pasture land. The grounds were designed by Herman Haerlin of Cincinnati and would incorporate landscaped hills and trees, decorative lakes, a spring, and a creek with a waterfall. Not only would the patients enjoy the beautiful landscape, but citizens also enjoyed the extensive grounds. Though the facility would never be fully self-sustaining, over the years, the grounds would include livestock, farm fields and gardens, an orchard, greenhouses, a dairy, a receiving hospital, a Tubercular Ward, a physical plant to generate steam heat, and even a carriage shop in the earlier years.

The hospital, first called the Athens Lunatic Asylum, officially began operations on January 9, 1874. Within two years, it was renamed the Athens Hospital for the Insane. Over the years, its name would be changed many times to the Athens State Hospital, the Southeastern Ohio Mental Health Center, the Athens Mental Health Center, the Athens Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center, and the Athens Mental Health and Developmental Center.

Birds Eye view of Athens, Ohio Asylum

Bird’s Eye view of Athens, Ohio Asylum

During its operation, the hospital provided services to a variety of patients, including Civil War veterans, children, the elderly, the homeless, rebellious teenagers being taught a lesson by their parents, and violent criminals suffering from various mental and physical disabilities. With diagnoses ranging from the slightest distress to severely mentally ill, these patients were provided various forms of care, many of which have been discredited today. The asylum was best known for its practice of lobotomy, but it was also known to have practiced hydrotherapy, electroshock, restraint, and psychotropic drugs, many of which have been found to be harmful today.

More interesting are the causes listed for admission, including epilepsy, menopause, alcohol addiction, and tuberculosis. General “ill health” also accounted for many admissions, which included in the first three years of operation 39 men and 44 women. For the female patients hospitalized during these first three years of the asylum’s operation, the three leading causes of insanity are recorded as “puerperal condition” (relating to childbirth), “change of life,” and “menstrual derangements.” According to an 1876 report, the leading cause of insanity among male patients was masturbation. The second most common cause of insanity was listed as intemperance (alcohol). Depending upon their condition, a patient’s treatment could range from full care to amazing freedom.

Over the years, numerous buildings were added, including a farm office, a new amusement hall, additional wards and residences, a laundry building, power plant, garages, stables, mechanics shops, a firehouse, therapy rooms, and dozens of others. By the 1950s, the hospital was using 78 buildings and was treating 1,800 patients.

Athens Asylum cemetery courtesy Encyclopedia of Forlorn Places

Athens Asylum cemetery courtesy Encyclopedia of Forlorn Places

In the 1960s, the total square footage of the facility was recorded at 660,888 square feet. At this time, its population peaked at nearly 2,000 patients, over three times its capacity. However, the number of patients would begin to decline for the next several decades as de-institutionalization accelerated. As the number of people at the Asylum declined, the buildings and wards were abandoned one by one.

Comprised of three graveyards, burials began soon after the institution’s opening as there were deceased patients who were unclaimed by their families. Until 1943 the burials were headed only by stones with numbers, with the names of the dead known only in recorded ledgers. Only one register exists today, which contains the names of 1,700 of the over 2,000 burials. In 1972 the last patients were buried in the asylum cemetery. Today the cemeteries continue to be maintained by the Ohio Department of Mental Health.

In 1977, Athens Asylum made news when it housed multiple personality rapist Billy Milligan. In the highly publicized court case, Milligan was found to have committed several felonies, including armed robbery, kidnapping, and three rapes on the Ohio State University campus. In preparing his defense, psychologists diagnosed Milligan with multiple personality disorder, from which the doctors said he had suffered from early childhood. He was the first person diagnosed with multiple personality disorder to raise such a defense and the first acquitted of a major crime for this reason. Milligan was then sent to a series of state-run mental hospitals, including Athens. While at these hospitals, Milligan reported having ten different personalities. Later 14 more personalities were said to have been discovered. After a decade, Milligan was discharged. He died of cancer at a nursing home in Columbus, Ohio, on December 12, 2014, at 59.

The next year, the hospital made the news again when a patient named Margaret Schilling disappeared on December 1, 1978. It wasn’t until January 12, 1979, 42 days later that, her body was discovered by a maintenance worker in a locked long-abandoned ward once used for patients with infectious illnesses. Though tests showed that she died of heart failure, she was found completely naked with her clothing neatly folded next to her body. More interesting is the permanent stain that her body left behind. Clearly, an imprint of her hair and body can still be seen on the floor, even though numerous attempts have been made to remove it.

By 1981 the hospital housed fewer than 300 patients, numerous buildings stood abandoned, and over 300 acres were transferred to Ohio University. In 1988, the facilities and grounds (excluding the cemeteries) were deeded from the Department of Mental Health to Ohio University.

The Athens Center officially closed in 1993, and the remaining patients transferred to another facility. The property stood vacant for several years before restoration began. The name of the property was changed to the “Ridges” and in 2001 renovation work was completed on the main building, known as Lin Hall. Today it houses music, geology, biotechnology offices, storage facilities, and the Kennedy Museum of Art. Over the years, other hospital buildings were modeled and used by the University, although many others still sit abandoned.

It comes as no surprise that the buildings of this historic asylum are allegedly haunted. One of the most famous ghosts is that of Margaret Shilling, who left her body print upon the hospital floor. Her spirit is said to have appeared staring down from the window of the room where her body was found, has been seen attempting to escape, and has been known to wander various parts of the building at night. And, according to some, she is not alone. Other former patients are also said to remain in residence, with reports from visitors seeing strange figures standing in the empty wings of the former hospital, hearing disembodied voices and squeaking gurneys, seeing strange lights, and hearing screams echoing through the walls. More frightening, there are rumors of spirits of patients who remain shackled in the basement. These many spirits are thought to be those who died or suffered at the hands of staff in the asylum.

The cemetery is also said to be haunted by shadowy people and strange lights. In one area, the graves’ linear shapes form a circle, which is said to be a witches’ meeting point.

Tours of the outside grounds of the old asylum are held on the third Sunday of each month.

©  Kathy Weiser-Alexander / Legends of America , updated April 2021.

Female Ward, Athens, Ohio Asylum

Female Ward, Athens, Ohio Asylum

America’s Haunted Hospitals Will Make You Shiver

Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, MO

Haunted Hotels and Inns across America

Legends, Ghosts, Myths & Mysteries

Asylum Projects Haunted Athens Mysterious Heartland Ohio Swallow Roadtrippers Weird US Wikipedia – Athens Asylum Wikipedia – Billy Milligan

  • Virtual Tours
  • Store at OSR
  • Connect with the Reformatory
  • Buy Tickets
  • Scofield Cafe
  • Hancock Heights at OSR
  • Local Food & Lodging
  • Visitor FAQs
  • Events Calendar
  • Memberships
  • Things to Do
  • Escape Rooms
  • Blood Prison Shakedown Podcast
  • Escape to Blood Prison
  • INKCarceration
  • Shawshank Hustle
  • Central Guard Room
  • East Diagonal
  • Warden’s Dining Room
  • Reformatory Lawn
  • Our History
  • Inside Shawshank
  • Apply for IWScholarship
  • OSR Online Store
  • Family Memberships
  • Individual Memberships

The Ohio State Reformatory is closed from July 15th-July 23rd for the Inkcarceration Tattoo & Music Festival. We will re-open for tours on Wednesday, July 24th at 11am. History. Redemption. Legacy.

Experience the beauty, hope, and restoration of the Ohio State Reformatory.

Everyone Who Visits Comes Away With Their Own Reformatory Story. Start Yours Now…

Experience firsthand the history and legacy of the Ohio State Reformatory, a building with countless stories that range from terrifying and tragic to inspiring and hopeful. Come learn about our history while creating your own Reformatory Story.

asylum tour ohio

Choose an Adventure

Decide what your visit will look like by choosing one or more of our customizable tours or experiences.

asylum tour ohio

Select Your Date

Don’t miss out! Book your tour or experience to ensure your spot is reserved. We often fill up, so don’t wait.

asylum tour ohio

Embrace the Past

As you enter the gates, the striking architecture marks the beginning of your memorable visit.

asylum tour ohio

Tell Your Story

Whether it involves Shawshank, the paranormal, or a historical deep dive, share your unforgettable experience.

asylum tour ohio

Offered Tours

Tour all 250,000 square feet of the prison and learn about its history, Hollywood connections, and paranormal activity.

shawshank

Follow in the footsteps of Andy and Red by exploring the filming site of The Shawshank Redemption — IMDb’s all-time highest-rated film.

asylum tour ohio

Whether you want to hunt for ghosts or be haunted by them, you’re in the right place!

INKcarceration at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio

Keep an eye on our calendar so you never miss out on any harrowing happenings here.

membership

Become a Member

Partner with us in preserving this historic facility by purchasing a membership today.

store

Museum Store

Find the perfect gift for the film buff, ghost hunter, and/or history lover in your life.

The Ohio State Reformatory As Seen On 

Hulu

asylum tour ohio

What to know about Ohio University’s plans for The Ridges

asylum tour ohio

ATHENS, Ohio — The former site of the historic Athens Lunatic Asylum, now known as The Ridges, could become a $220 million mixed-use development with housing, commercial, academic and recreational uses under a new plan proposed by Ohio University. The project, which is estimated to take seven to 10 years, would be the largest nonstudent housing development in the city’s history, with over 700 planned units.

On Tuesday, OU will host the first two of three town hall meetings to present its new development strategy for The Ridges . The 730-acre, partially occupied complex of buildings and surrounding green space just south of the university, was first developed in 1867. OU’s plans for the site have been a continuous point of contention in Athens since the university first obtained the buildings in 1993. 

The school’s new development strategy for the complex could, if fully implemented, bring substantial investment to OU and Athens. It’s unclear, however, how widely the benefits would flow to the county, with some raising concerns about the impact of the project on historical preservation and ecological conservation. 

Here, we look at some of the major questions about the new development plan in advance of the town hall meetings.

OU’s first two two-hour town hall meetings will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The meeting at 10 a.m. is targeted at the Ohio University community, while the meeting at noon will focus on the larger Athens community. A third and final town hall, planned for March 24, will be open to all. All meetings will be held at The Ridges Building 14 , 2nd floor.

Who is involved?

The state granted Ohio University the complex of buildings that makes up The Ridges in 1993, when the institution then known as the Athens Mental Health Center closed and moved to a site near O’Bleness Hospital . 

OU’s current development partners are the Buckeye Hills Regional Council , a Marietta-based coalition of governments in southeast Ohio working on economic development and other issues, and Community Development Partners , a program of Praxia Partners, a Columbus-based nonprofit economic development consultancy.

Support our work to deliver independent local news for Athens County

Like what you’re reading?

The Ridges Advisory Committee has existed in various forms since OU obtained the property, and is currently the official internal advisory body for OU overseeing this project.

asylum tour ohio

What does the plan hope to achieve?

The shortage of quality housing in Athens County, at both low-income and market rates, is a perennial problem . The over 700 units of new housing proposed in the strategy include housing set aside for seniors (with the most dedicated units, at 102 total), creative and artisan live-work units, affordable units for graduate students and market-rate units. 

In a presentation to Athens City Council in November 2022 , Josh Recchie of Community Development Partners said that “affordable” for this project is defined as being targeted at people spending 30% of their income on rent and utilities if they make 60% or less of the area median income. He said that would translate into an average rent for the affordable one-bedroom senior apartments of $500 to $600, and said other affordable housing for artists may be priced higher. For condominiums, he said that portions of the buildings could be sub-developed into $100,000 to $130,000 units, which would be considered affordable. There would also be luxury condos priced at over $500,000.

That, along with set-aside commercial space in the complex, could  prompt further both public and private investment in Athens south of the Hocking River. The Ridges features heavily in plans for the Richland Avenue Corridor in the City of Athens’ current comprehensive city plan .

The proposal would also see the site transferred to a new governmental body, which may allow community members and local governments to have wider oversight of the complex. Community members have complained for decades that OU’s vision for the site hasn’t sufficiently included the community.

What community concerns exist?

The Ridges is currently home to a Land Lab , a biodiverse natural area used for study. While it was later removed , OU’s 2015 Ridges Framework Plan included the development of housing abutting the lab. In the 2022 presentation made to the OU board by the current development team, that area is simply marked as “a secondary site with an emphasis on conservation and recreation.” 

Former OU planner Pam Callahan, a member of the Ridges Advisory Committee, said in November after the development team’s presentation that she had concerns about the plan’s lack of specific conservation measures. She specifically noted that OU’s administration had pushed back against formally designating the complex’s well-loved trail system as a preserve. She declined to comment further to the Independent.

Those concerns were not specifically addressed in the presentation and project memo to trustees. On conservation, the memo simply reads , “Environmental conservation is a key asset to the Ridges, and where there is a consensus, we would pursue strategies to protect land at the Ridges, through tools such as a conservation easement and restrictive covenants.”

The complex holds particular architectural and historical significance, too. The large former asylum at the center of the complex, the Kirkbride Campus, was built after a particular 19th century design for asylums called the Kirkbride Plan . 

The design was intended to treat mental illness with “moral therapy,” including access to quality air, water and open space, as former OU counseling professor Katherine Ziff wrote in “ Asylum on a Hill: History of a Healing Landscape .” The complex at The Ridges is one of just a few surviving examples of the plan. 

OU’s development proposal, however, doesn’t include a historical preservation plan. Indeed, the school’s 2016 campus development plan called for “a substantial new identity [for The Ridges] … needed to counteract past associations.”

This generally mirrors longtime community complaints that OU is largely interested in the complex as a money-making development site. Even the name of the site is viewed by some as an attempt to whitewash the complicated history of the asylum. 

Many of those complaints began due to the initial plans put forward when the university was first looking into acquiring the site including the development of a research park with reduced community access. This was interpreted by some as OU “sacrific[ing] a community’s finest resource for speculative development,” according to a letter written to the school’s board of trustees.

Over the years, some Athens County community members have accused the university of  neglecting historic buildings it owns. These include the Berry Hotel on Court Street, which was demolished before the asylum was transferred to OU; the ongoing demolition of Scott Quad ; and the planned demolition of the Research and Technology Center.

In 2013, as the university began plans to demolish some buildings, the Ridges Advisory Committee — which was created by the law transferring the property but never consistently met for long periods of time — reconstituted itself . It began work on what would become the 2015 Ridges Framework Plan , the first such project since a 1989 land use survey , conducted with the purpose of developing the research park.

Portions of that plan were brought into the 2016 Comprehensive Master Plan for the entire campus, which envisioned the Ridges complex as “Ridges Green” and included “careful, selective demolition of accessory and non-contributing buildings.” It also featured some modest plans to expand OU’s use of the complex as well as limited use for housing , but included little information about grand mixed-use development plans.

In the ensuing years, OU undertook some $28 million in renovations, including some $16 million into the historic Kirkbride campus, according to a 2021 report in the Ohio Today alumni magazine .

asylum tour ohio

How is it being funded?

The funding plan put forward in The Ridges Development Strategy that was approved by trustees in January is a public-private model. The strategy consists of multiple development incentives, tax breaks, property transfers and unprecedented coordination around the site from OU, the City of Athens and Athens County.

The plan calls for the entire complex to be transferred to a yet-to-be-created governmental body called a New Community Authority . Created to undertake community development projects, NCAs have broad powers such as levying new charges within their service areas, signing agreements with public and private bodies, hiring employees and issuing bonds. 

Initially, OU, the city of Athens and development partners would control the NCA for The Ridges. Eventually, the statute calls for elections for citizen representatives on the board. Although OU would no longer have sole ownership of the site, OU associate vice president for planning Shawna Wolfe said at a November meeting of the Ridges Advisory Committee that the school restrict land use before transferring it to ensure future developments are in line with current goals.

The plans also call for the creation of two additional programs to provide development incentives — essential because the current proposal claims it would not burden OU, the City of Athens or Athens County with any further funding obligations. 

The plan would establish The Ridges as a Community Reinvestment Area . This would encourage developers and landowners to build or renovate buildings within the defined area by allowing the City of Athens to freeze property taxes developers would have to pay. 

As owner of the land and buildings, the NCA would then be able to improve properties without paying increased property taxes. Local governments would still benefit from the new plan through tax revenue, however, as property taxes have not previously been paid on any part of The Ridges due to its history of state ownership.

The other incentive program would make The Ridge into a Tax Increment Financing district. This would similarly freeze the amount of property taxes owed on the land — which go to public entities such as boards of education — at their value at the time the district is created. As property values go up over time, increased property tax revenues would be diverted to a fund that can be used for any community development purpose. 

These strategies, in particular TIF districts, are sometimes controversial. Critics have called TIF districts “ slush funds ” because there’s little control or oversight of how the money (which is diverted from other local bodies such as school districts) is spent by the body controlling the fund.

The development proposal mentions several other incentive programs developers would look to use.

Let us know what's happening in your neck of the woods!

Get in touch and share a story!

asylum tour ohio

Sam Stecklow

Sam Stecklow (he/him) is a journalist and editor currently based in Orlando, where he is a contributor to the Athens County Independent. He also works as a journalist focusing on police misconduct at the Chicago-based Invisible Institute and a senior editor of the South Side Weekly, also in Chicago. His work has been published in The Intercept, Salt Lake Tribune, Chicago Reader, New York Magazine, and elsewhere. He has won or been a finalist for several local and national journalism awards.

Related Articles

American Eel Preserve aims to host elusive species

American Eel Preserve aims to host elusive species

The preserve, located in Chauncey, has long-term environmental restoration goals — including providing habitat for the American Eel.

Read More »

Ohio University moves to exclude faculty from prospective union

Ohio University moves to exclude faculty from prospective union

OU wants to exclude faculty, including many in the College of Health Sciences and Professions, from the proposed bargaining unit.

Chauncey establishes protections for LGBTQ+ residents, low income renters

Chauncey establishes protections for LGBTQ+ residents, low income renters

The ordinance’s passage followed months of debate.

1 thought on “What to know about Ohio University’s plans for The Ridges”

Pingback: In Central State Hospital demolition decision, ‘in-depth’ historic preservation study was a single phone call - SaportaReport

Comments are closed.

Username or Email Address

Remember Me

Never miss a story!

Every week, our FREE email newsletters help you get informed and keep you updated on our community.

Our donors make it possible.

We empower community engagement through accessible public service journalism. Support local news you can trust!

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our  privacy policy .

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

WOUB Digital

The Legends Behind the ‘Ghosts’ of Athens

By: Jessica Jones Posted on: Tuesday, October 29, 2019

In the heart of all the legends and lore surrounding Athens county and neighboring towns, Ohio University is home to an abundance of haunted rumors, ghost stories, and alleged sightings. For years, students and residents alike have found themselves at some point seeking out any possible truth to the hearsay.

The Ridges, a building formally known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, has been a constant source of ghost stories and sightings for years. The building, now used as an art museum, was home to hundreds of patients throughout the late 1800s up until 1993. While The Ridges insisted that taking good care of their residents was of the utmost importance, The Ridges is known for its infamous procedures, such as lobotomies and electroshock therapy.

“I’ve been here 39 years and the ‘haunted’ business only came up in the last 10 or 12 years. I’ve lived at the Asylum, I lived there for a year. I came here as a grad student, and they had a resident volunteer program.” said Athens local Tom O’Grady, Executive Director of the Southeast Ohio History Center. He was able to live in The Ridges for free in exchange for helping out with the clients 15 hours a week. After graduating, O’Grady continued to volunteer on the grounds for another 10 years until the building closed.  “I still haven’t seen any ghosts. But I have seen the stain of Margaret Shilling.”

Margaret Shilling, one of the most well-known residents who lived at the Ridges, passed away in an upstairs attic space in 1979. Her body was not discovered until a few months later, and due to the exact location of where she passed, elements and time worked together to create a permanent stain of where her body once lay.

“There are two things people know about the Asylum: one is that it’s haunted, and two is there’s a stain, they feed into each other,” O’Grady said. “She was a person who had a family who loved her. To me, it’s rather disappointing that the university has had the Asylum for 35 years, and they’ve let the story get perpetuated without restoring her humanity.”

One of the points that O’Grady stressed was to not let these stories be remembered as only silly ghost stories because, after all, they are attached to real human beings. “I think it’s our responsibility as a community to do what we can to restore her humanity. How many people know about her only as a stain? What would we think of that?”

“There are two things people know about the Asylum: one is that it’s haunted, and two is there’s a stain, they feed into each other. She was a person who had a family who loved her. To me, it’s rather disappointing that the university has had the Asylum for 35 years, and they’ve let the story get perpetuated without restoring her humanity.” – Tom O’Grady, Executive Director of the Southeast Ohio History Center

Even before the Asylum existed, legend has it that the spookiness all began with Mt. Nebo and the Koons family spirit rooms. In the mid-1800s, roughly around 1850-1855, the Koons family of Athens County erected a ‘Spirit Room’ which was used as a place to conduct seances. The site of the Koons spirt rooms became a national sensation, drawing travelers from near and far. Some even say that Mt. Nebo is one of the world’s most haunted locations and a place of spiritual significance. Athens local Sharon Hatfield has written a book on the subject titled Enchanted Ground,  which can be purchased at the Southeast Ohio History Center in uptown Athens.

Another touristy sight to see is the haunted Moonville Tunnel. The Moonville Tunnel, located in Vinton county just outside of Athens, is home to its own collection of ghost stories. Before the Moonville Tunnel became the popular destination that it is today, one had to hike through woods or follow the tracks to get to it. Now void of trains passing through, the tunnel is much more accessible to visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of something paranormal. O’Grady told me about his own experience he had in the tunnel years ago.

Moonville

“The railroads were still running. I knew the story about the man with a lantern who had gotten run over. I was cleaning up the woods when I saw it,” he said. “Of course, I would go in that tunnel, it was cool! I was in that tunnel more than once when the train was coming, and there’s no way that thing can touch you- you hope, you think… you know you’re safe… unless it goes off the tracks. Your adrenaline is rushing, it’s an exciting experience.”

Many more alleged ghost stories exist outside of these three infamous examples, but while talking with Tom he made a point that we should all consider. The true ghosts of Athens county are not the ones in the ridges, the tunnels, or the ones wandering the West State Street Cemetery; rather they are the architects, the pioneers, the teachers and scholars, and the residents of yesteryear who called this place home and helped to shape Athens into what it is today. O’Grady is passionate about the work he does at the historical center and for the county, and the way he talks about Athens makes it very clear that he cares and is willing to educate anyone who wants to know more. While we should be able to marvel and enjoy these urban legends, we must not forget that there is more than meets the eye when discussing them.

As for O’Grady, he himself is still on the hunt for ghosts, but so far has had little luck.

“I want to see ghosts. From a distance maybe, but I want to see them as much as anybody,” he said. “I haven’t had that opportunity- but I’m looking.”

  • (740) 592-2280
  • Weds - Fri: 10 am - 4 pm, Sat: 12 pm - 4 pm
  • 24 W. State Street, Athens, OH 45701

Southeast Ohio History Logo with four outlines of Ohio together at the point to create a compass with the words "Southeast Ohio History Center" in a circle around it.

Outdoor Walking Tour of the Historic Athens Asylum

Tour the famous Athens Asylum, one of the few Kirkbride Asylums left. George Eberts, long time Asylum employee and local expert on the Athens Asylum, will be leading an outdoor walking tour of the historic Asylum grounds. His insights on patient treatment throughout the asylum’s 150-year existence are peppered with stories, personal anecdotes, and hidden locations throughout the grounds.

Learn about the history of the famed Kirkbride and other buildings, the renowned landscaped grounds, historic cemeteries, and the evolution of mental health treatment from the inception of this storied institution until its closure a quarter century ago. The tour will last approximately two hours. Due to Ohio University restrictions, access to the inside of the buildings is limited, but you can tour the main entryway as well as the Kennedy Museum.

We meet at the Kennedy Museum of Art, in front of the original Administration Building of the Athens Asylum- 100 Ridges Circle, Athens, OH 45701. This is an outdoor tour so please plan accordingly. The tour will cover the entire loop of the grounds, so if you have small children bring a stroller!

Ticket Prices: Students with a Student ID- $10 Southeast Ohio History Center Members – $15 Regular Non-Member Adult – $20 Family Bundle – $60 Children 12 and Under – Free

***For more information about the tour contact the Southeast Ohio History Center at 740-592-2280 .  Tickets can also be purchased at the History Center at 24 West State Street in Athens. Tours do sell out regularly, so please reserve your tickets prior to the tour.

REFUND POLICY- Refunds will be given only under the following circumstances: • Requests that are pre-paid and made at least 48 Hours prior to tour. • Inclement weather (discretion of SOHC). • Level 2 or higher snow emergency.

  • + Add to Google Calendar
  • + iCal / Outlook export

Outside the Kennedy Museum of Art Building

Share this event, leave a reply cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

© 2023 Southeast ohio history center

created by nicki mazzocca

State Senator Tim Schaffer tours future home of the Harcum House child advocacy center

asylum tour ohio

LANCASTER − Ohio Senator Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, said Fairfield County is fortunate to have the Harcum House child advocacy center Wednesday as he toured its future location at 216 Trace Drive.

"Not every county has this," he said. "Not every community has this asset available to families and to kids who need it. There's no greater feeling of satisfaction than to help a child from being harmed or if they have been harmed to help them restore themselves to good health. We can't do enough for them."

Harcum House is an organization that works with abused children. It serves about 450 children per year. Dave and June Harcum founded the organization in 2007.

Harcum House is currently located in a shopping center at 1147 E. Main St. Executive director Cody Tatum said the agency will start a fund drive to raise about $1 million for the move. The state is kicking in about $400,000 of that total. The agency is buying the building, which is a former medical office, from Fairfield Medical Center.

Tatum said there is no definite timeframe for when Harcum House could move. He said there are about 30 such child advocacy centers in Ohio.

"We're just so humbled and appreciative for this opportunity," Tatum said. "Harcum House has been working in our community since 2007. This is a chance for us to have permanency and together as a community build the center kids are going to use to overcome these tragedies when they happen."

Beth Harcum Dubberley is the daughter of Dave and June Harcum and is an emeritus board member.

"My parents would be thrilled," she said of the new building. "They would be so excited. My mom just passed away in December, and she knew we were going to be moving. She was very excited about it. Both of my parents were educators and they had been very big anti-abuse advocates for their entire careers. So the family is very proud."

[email protected]

740-681-4340

Twitter/X: @JeffDBarron

  • Entertainment
  • Newsletters

Border arrests plunge 29% in June to the lowest of Biden's presidency as asylum halt takes hold

Associated Press

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

FILE - Chinese migrants wait to be processed after crossing the border with Mexico on May 8, 2024, near Jacumba Hot Springs, Calif. Arrests for illegally crossing the border from Mexico plunged 29% in June to the lowest month of Joe Biden's presidency, according to figures released Monday, July 15, 2024, that provide another window on the impact of a new rule to temporarily suspend asylum. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun,File)

SAN DIEGO – Arrests for illegally crossing the border from Mexico plunged 29% in June, the lowest month of Joe Biden's presidency, according to figures released Monday that provide another window on the impact of a new rule to temporarily suspend asylum.

Arrests totaled 83,536 in June, down from 117,901 in May to mark the lowest tally since January 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

Recommended Videos

A seven-day average of daily arrests fell more than half by the end of June from Biden's announcement on June 4 that asylum processing would be halted when daily arrests reach 2,500, which they did immediately, said Troy Miller, acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner.

“Recent border security measures have made a meaningful impact on our ability to impose consequences for those crossing unlawfully,” Miller said.

Arrests had already fallen by more than half from a record high of 250,000 in December, largely a result of increased enforcement by Mexican authorities , according to U.S. officials.

Sharp declines registered across nationalities, including Mexicans, who have been most affected by the suspension of asylum, and Chinese people , who generally fly to Ecuador and travel to the U.S. border over land.

San Diego was the busiest of the Border Patrol's nine sectors bordering Mexico by number of arrests, followed by Tucson, Arizona.

More than 41,000 people entered legally through an online appointment app called CBP One in June. The agency said 680,500 people have successfully scheduled appointments since the app was introduced in January 2023.

Nearly 500,000 people from four countries entered on a policy to allow two-year stays on condition they have financial sponsors and arrive at an airport. They include 104,130 Cubans, 194,027 Haitians, 86,101 Nicaraguans and 110,541 Venezuelans, according to CBP.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Big Bounce America tour headed for NE Ohio

  • Updated: Jul. 15, 2024, 6:18 a.m.
  • | Published: Jul. 15, 2024, 6:00 a.m.

The Big Bounce America tour is scheduled to be in Northeast Ohio for five days this month.

The Big Bounce America tour is scheduled to be in Northeast Ohio for five days this month. Big Bounce America tour

  • Marc Bona, cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Big Bounce America tour is set to, well, bounce its way to Greater Cleveland.

For five days this month, the inflatable roving attraction is scheduled to be in Victory Sports Park in North Ridgeville.

If you purchase a product or register for an account through a link on our site, we may receive compensation. By using this site, you consent to our User Agreement and agree that your clicks, interactions, and personal information may be collected, recorded, and/or stored by us and social media and other third-party partners in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Travel: Tour Ohio's Shawshank history this summer

Fans of "The Shawshank Redemption" — the top rated movie of all time on IMDb.com — have an opportunity to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their favorite flick during a birthday bash Aug. 8-11 at locations in north-central Ohio, where the movie was filmed.

Joining the celebration will be several featured actors from the movie including Bob Gunton (Warden Norton), William Sadler (Heywood), Gil Bellows (Tommy Williams) and many others.

When "The Shawshank Redemption" was released in 1994, few people realized just how beloved the movie would become over time. But the themes of perseverance, friendship and redemption apparently struck a chord, as did performances by leads Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman and a brilliant cast of supporting players.

Travel: Ohio artifacts can be seen in England

The evocative, haunting locations where the movie was filmed, many of them in and around Mansfield, also play a big role in the movie's enduring popularity.

Today, several of those locations are destinations along the Shawshank Trail, which includes 15 visitor stops, most of which will be instantly recognizable to fans of the movie.

Stops that will host special Shawshank 30th events include the Pugh Cabin at Malabar Farm State Park, where protagonist Andy Dufresne sat in his car contemplating his wife’s infidelity; the Wyandot County Courthouse in Upper Sandusky, where Dufresne received his life sentences; and the most popular site on the Shawshank Trail, the historic Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, which portrays Shawshank State Prison where most of the movie is set.

After the real reformatory closed in 1990, its magnificent Victorian-gothic architecture made it the ideal fictional setting for several major motion pictures including "The Shawshank Redemption."

Today, the former reformatory draws thousands of visitors each year — not just movie fans, but also history and architecture buffs and, because it is allegedly and famously haunted, ghost hunters and paranormal researchers.

The site is home to the Ohio State Corrections History Museum with historic items including the electric chair “Old Sparky” in which 315 people were put to death, and the Shawshank Museum featuring props, costumes and other mementos from the movie.

Visitors can take self-directed or guided tours with several different themes. The reformatory will also host anniversary bus tours that will stop at most Shawshank Trail sites Aug. 8 and 9. (The bus tours will not visit the last and only non-Ohio stop on the trail, Sandy Point Wildlife Refuge on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands — probably a good thing.)

Travel: Step into a fairy tale in Charlevoix, Michigan

The celebration kicks off Aug. 8 in downtown Mansfield at the historic Renaissance Theatre, a Shawshank Trail stop and the site of the movie’s premiere in 1994. At dusk, the theater’s back lot will host an outdoor drive-in-style screening of the movie. The theater will also show special reserved-seat indoor screenings Aug. 9 and 10.

The theater will also hold a cast and crew discussion Aug. 9 featuring movie director Frank Darabont, hosted by Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz.

"Shawshank" cast and crew will also appear at other events throughout the anniversary celebration including panel discussions Aug. 10-11 at Theatre 166 in Mansfield. Those panels include Q&A sessions with background actors who portrayed Shawshank prisoners and townspeople, and a "Behind the Scenes & Beyond" panel with the movie location manager Kokayi Ampah, who will discuss how and why sites in and around Mansfield became iconic locations.

Many events are free, but some include an admission charge. Some events are ticketed and may sell out in advance, so act early. For a complete list of Shawshank 30th Anniversary events or to purchase admission to ticketed events, visit shawshanktrail.com/event-schedule .

Steve Stephens is a freelance travel writer and photographer. Email him at  [email protected] .

  • LPGA Newsletters
  • LPGA Travel
  • Women's Network
  • LPGA Professionals
  • Members Only
  • Lesson Zone
  • Membership Information
  • Find A Teacher
  • Professionals Job Board
  • Events Calendar
  • LPGA Amateurs
  • Become A Member
  • Member Login
  • LPGA Foundation
  • LEADERBOARD
  • Changing The Face of Golf
  • C-Me Action Plan
  • Diversity Policy
  • Diverse Supplier Opportunity
  • Celebrating the Green
  • All Access Series
  • Instruction
  • Live Stream
  • Award Winners
  • Hall of Fame
  • ROLEX FIRST TIME WINNERS
  • ROLEX ANNIKA MAJOR AWARD
  • 2024 Player Priority List (PDF)
  • TOURNAMENTS
  • Download Schedule
  • Completed Tournaments
  • Drive On Championship
  • Solheim Cup
  • 2024 Olympics
  • CME Group Tour Championship
  • QUALIFYING SERIES (Q-SCHOOL)
  • LPGA Local Qualifying Rounds
  • Hilton Grand Vacations TOC
  • LPGA Senior Championship
  • Print Schedule
  • RACE TO CME GLOBE
  • Season Standings
  • Past Winners
  • Explanation and Points Breakdown
  • Projected Points Standing
  • CME Group Cares Challenge - Score 1 for St. Jude
  • Aon Risk Reward Challenge
  • KPMG Performance Insights

Field Breakdown: 2024 Dana Open

The 40th playing of the twin bridges championship is set to take place this week at pinehaven country club.

  • Tournament News

Linn Grant

After an exciting week at The Amundi Evian Championship, the LPGA Tour heads to Sylvania, Ohio for the 39th playing of the Dana Open. Four past winners are in this year’s field, including defending champion Linn Grant and 2005 winner Heather Bowie Young, who hasn’t competed on the LPGA Tour since the 2020 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. Twenty of the 26 total 2024 LPGA Tour rookies will also compete, a group that features Olympic-qualified LET winner Alexandra Forsterling and Epson Tour graduates Isabella Fierro, Minji Kang and Auston Kim. A $1.75 million purse and 500 Race to the CME Globe points are up for grabs at Highland Meadows Golf Club as the tournament celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Take a look at who else is in the field this week at the Dana Open:

Past Champions (4):

Linn Grant (2023), Gaby Lopez (2022), Jasmine Suwannapura (2018), Heather Bowie Young (2005)

2024 LPGA Tour Winners (1 of 13):

Linnea Strom (ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer)

2024 LPGA Tour Rookies (20 of 26):

Trichat Cheenglab, Isabella Fierro, Alexandra Fosterling, Nataliya Guseva, Jin Hee Im, Minji Kang, Gurleen Kaur, Auston Kim, So Mi Lee, Mary Liu, Kaitlin Milligan, Benedetta Moresco, Malia Nam, Hira Naveed, Yue Ren, Mao Saigo, Gigi Stoll, Yu Jin Sung, Yuri Yoshida, Liqi Zang

Ohio Connections:

Stacy Lewis (native), Lindsey Weaver-Wright (native), Mia Hammond (native/resident), Marissa Steen (native/resident), Allie White (native/resident)

Michigan Connections:

Jennifer Song (native), Kris Tamulis (native)

Collegiate Connections:

Rachel Rohanna (Ohio State University)

Sponsor Invitations:

Adela Cernousek (a), Mia Hammond (a), Erica Shepherd

Monday Qualifiers:

Jensen Castle, Mary Mulcahy (a)

Related Articles

asylum tour ohio

How to Watch the 2024 Dana Open

asylum tour ohio

Five Things to Know About the 2024 Dana Open

asylum tour ohio

Virginia Tourism Corporation Named Global Partner of the 2024 Solheim Cup

asylum tour ohio

Now is the Time to Get Your Tickets for the LPGA’s Portland Classic

acer logo

  • Charitable Solicitation Disclosures
  • Corporate Sponsors
  • LPGA History
  • LPGA International
  • Sponsorship Opportunities
  • Legends of the LPGA

Fan Feature

  • LPGA Women's Network
  • ADA Act Request
  • Anti-Doping Information
  • Feedback Form
  • Gender Policy
  • Integrity Program Information
  • Media - Press Site
  • Player Login
  • Privacy Policy
  • Professionals Member Login
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Ticket Terms and Conditions

Global Tour

  • International TV Distribution

Mobile Apps

  • Android App
  • Top Stories

asylum tour ohio

COMMENTS

  1. Tours

    Discover Ohio State Reformatory with guided tours for history buffs, movie lovers, and thrill-seekers. Complimentary self-guided tour with any guided-tour purchase. Discounts offered for students, seniors, military personnel, and Preservation Society members.

  2. Visit The Ridges

    The Southeast Ohio History Center hosts engaging outdoor walking tours of the historic asylum grounds, where you can learn about the history of the facility and mental health treatment. Several hiking trails and walkways are available for public use at The Ridges, including Radar Hill - the ...

  3. Tour The Ridges former insane asylum in Athens

    The Southeast Ohio History Center, located in Athens, Ohio, will be offering historical tours of The Ridges, formerly known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, from now and throughout the end of October. Explore DIY Dayton field trips the whole family will love. The Athens Lunatic Asylum was a mental hospital that operated in Athens from 1874 to 1993.

  4. The Ridges

    The Ridges, formerly called the Athens Lunatic Asylum, was a mental hospital operated in Athens, Ohio from 1874 until 1993. During its operation, the hospital provided services to a variety of patients including Civil War veterans, children, and violent criminals suffering from various mental disabilities. Today, the Ridges are a part of Ohio ...

  5. The Ridges

    The Ridges is an approximately 700-acre property owned by Ohio University sitting across the Hocking River from the University's campus core in Athens. The property was originally opened in the early 1800s as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, and the vacant property was transferred to Ohio University by the state in 1993. Many of the historic buildings at The Ridges have been renovated for a ...

  6. Outdoor Walking Tour of the Historic Athens Asylum

    Tour the famous Athens Asylum, one of the few Kirkbride Asylums left. George Eberts, long time Asylum employee and local expert on the Athens Asylum, will be leading an outdoor walking tour of the historic Asylum grounds. His insights on patient treatment throughout the asylum's 150-year existence are peppered with stories, personal anecdotes, and hidden locations throughout the grounds.

  7. The Ridges Asylum: A Chilling Walk Through Ohio's Dark Past

    Experience the historic & eerie past of The Ridges Asylum. Explore the grounds and learn the stories of the patients who once called it home. Take a guided tour and discover the secrets that still linger within its walls. Don't miss out on this spine-tingling adventure!

  8. Walking Tour of the Historic Athens Asylum

    Tour the famous Athens Asylum, one of the few Kirkbride Asylums left. George Eberts, long time Asylum employee and local expert on the Athens Asylum, will be leading an outdoor walking tour of the historic Asylum grounds and buildings. His insights on patient treatment throughout the asylum's 150-year existence are peppered with stories, personal anecdotes, and hidden locations throughout ...

  9. History of The Ridges

    History of The Ridges. The Ridges was originally developed as the site for Athens Lunatic Asylum, 150 years ago. The main structure that functioned as the mental hospital building was designed under the famous Kirkbride plan and gave this structure its memorable and beautiful layout. After years of declining patient numbers and the onset of the ...

  10. Margaret Schilling's Trace at The Ridges (née Athens Lunatic Asylum)

    During a June 2018 visit to The Ridges (as the Athens asylum is now called, after rebranding in the 1990's), board members from PreservationWorks had the extraordinary opportunity to tour the facilities with representatives from Ohio University and the Southeast Ohio History Center.

  11. The Ridges

    The Ridges is a district of Ohio University centered around the former Athens Insane Asylum. Built in 1874 by the State of Ohio, the asylum housed mental patients until it was closed in 1993. After being purchased by Ohio University, the site is now called The Ridges and is the location of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

  12. Athens Lunatic Asylum

    The Athens Lunatic Asylum, now a mixed-use development known as The Ridges [2], was a Kirkbride Plan mental hospital operated in Athens, Ohio, from 1874 until 1993. During its operation, the hospital provided services to a variety of patients including Civil War veterans, children, and those declared mentally unwell. After a period of disuse the property was redeveloped by the state of Ohio ...

  13. From insane asylum to art center, Ohio University's Ridges complex

    Now owned by Ohio University and known as The Ridges, the Athens Lunatic Asylum was initially part of the Kirkbride Plan, a nationwide system of mental institutions conceived by American ...

  14. The Ridges

    The Ridges, formerly called the Athens Lunatic Asylum, was a mental hospital operated in Athens, Ohio from 1874 until 1993.

  15. The Ridges

    The Ridges, Athens, Ohio. 2,499 likes · 2 talking about this · 5,867 were here. This is a fan page. All questions regarding The Ridges, including tours, should be directed to the Southeast Ohio...

  16. The Athens Lunatic Asylum "The Ridges"

    In a city named Athens, in Ohio, you can find the former Athens Lunatic Asylum, which was built in 1868. Today, this huge building belongs to the Ohio University and offers space to the Kennedy Museum, an auditorium, an office, several classrooms, a storage facility and… a couple of ghosts. The students have gotten used to them, well, kind of.

  17. The Athens Lunatic Asylum

    The asylum expanded exponentially by 1950, where two other hospitals and cottages are built to house more patients. by the mid-1950s, the hospital was the town's largest employer with 1,800 patients on a one-thousand-nineteen acre, 78 building campus. At its peak, the Athens Lunatic Asylum served fifteen Ohio counties.

  18. Haunted Athens Asylum for the Insane, Ohio

    Called the Ridges today and part of Ohio University, these historic buildings once housed the Athens Lunatic Asylum, which is said to be haunted.

  19. Southeast Ohio History Center

    Join the 365 Society. Get VIP Access to the Southeast Ohio History Center! Society Perks Include: free general admission to the Southeast Ohio History Center for up to six members, six one-time guest passes, 20% off all Museum Store purchases, members-only tours, trips, programs and previews, 10% off event venue rentals, and more!

  20. Home

    Feel the past come alive when you visit the Ohio State Reformatory. Through one of our customizable tours, you can learn about its history, Hollywood connections, and paranormal activity. Become part of this iconic structure's future by purchasing a membership to partner with us in preserving this historic facility.

  21. What to know about Ohio University's plans for The Ridges

    ATHENS, Ohio — The former site of the historic Athens Lunatic Asylum, now known as The Ridges, could become a $220 million mixed-use development with housing, commercial, academic and recreational uses under a new plan proposed by Ohio University. The project, which is estimated to take seven to 10 years, would be the largest nonstudent housing development in the city's history, with over ...

  22. The Legends Behind the 'Ghosts' of Athens

    The Legends Behind the 'Ghosts' of Athens. In the heart of all the legends and lore surrounding Athens county and neighboring towns, Ohio University is home to an abundance of haunted rumors ...

  23. Outdoor Walking Tour of the Historic Athens Asylum

    Tour the famous Athens Asylum, one of the few Kirkbride Asylums left. George Eberts, long time Asylum employee and local expert on the Athens Asylum, will be leading an outdoor walking tour of the historic Asylum grounds. His insights on patient treatment throughout the asylum's 150-year existence are peppered with stories, personal anecdotes, and hidden

  24. Famous comedian, musician cancels rest of tour after bandmate's comment

    Tenacious D cofounder Jack Black canceled the rest of the group's tour after band mate Kyle Gass made a statement about the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump.

  25. Who's performing at the Ohio State Fair?

    Alabama Roll on North America Tour presented by ... 2024, at 7 p.m. Stone Temple Pilots with special guest Soul Asylum - Friday ... July 27, 2024, at 7 p.m. All-Ohio State Fair Band ...

  26. Ohio Sen. Tim Schaffer tours the future location of Harcum House

    Ohio Senator Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, said Fairfield County is fortunate to have Harcum House as he toured its future home at 216 Trace Drive.

  27. Border arrests plunge 29% in June to the lowest of Biden's presidency

    Arrests for illegally crossing the border from Mexico plunged 29% in June to the lowest month of Joe Biden's presidency.

  28. Big Bounce America tour headed for NE Ohio

    The Big Bounce America tour is scheduled to be in Northeast Ohio for five days this month.

  29. Travel: Ohio is home to multiple 'Shawshank Redemption' spots

    The site is home to the Ohio State Corrections History Museum with historic items including the electric chair "Old Sparky" in which 315 people were put to death, and the Shawshank Museum ...

  30. Field Breakdown: 2024 Dana Open

    After an exciting week at The Amundi Evian Championship, the LPGA Tour heads to Sylvania, Ohio for the 39th playing of the Dana Open. Four past winner...