The Ghosts of Central State Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana
While the majority of buildings at the Central State Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, have been demolished, the ghosts that once dwelled within refuse to die.
Central State Hospital began in as the Indiana Hospital for the Insane. The need for a state funded mental institution, or asylum, was a source of contention; there was an obvious need, but debate ranged over where the funds would come from, and where the hospital would be place. This debate raged from 1827, until the doors opened in 1848. The Indiana Hospital for the Insane had five patients when it first opened, and consisted of only one building. In 1889 the name was changed to the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane, and changed again in 1928 to Central State Hospital.
The Hospital slowly grew to over 5,000 patients, and several buildings on over 100 acres of land in Indianapolis. There were two nearly identical buildings to keep the male and female patients separated, a medical building for non-mental illnesses, and a chapel. They even had a bowling alley for patients. The Hospital also offered occupational therapies that included jobs for the patients such as working in a bakery, and tending to the grounds.
When the Hospital was first built, it treated the mentally ill from around the country, but as other institutions were built, the needs of Central State changed. Eventually they treated only patients in the areas surrounding Indianapolis, but this still included 38 separate counties. The state chose to demolish the majority of the Hospital’s buildings in the 1970s, replacing them with newer buildings. The Hospital closed its doors for good in 1994. One original building that still stands is the Pathology Department, where the Indiana Medical History Museum is located.
Despite the name changes and additions, the purpose of the Hospital remained the same, to care for the mentally ill. Unfortunately treatment in those times was experimental and rudimentary at best. Women were often subjected to horrific treatments for something as simple as depression, treatments included submersion in ice cold water baths, and lobotomies were common place. Given the horrific things people once faced there, it shouldn’t be surprising that Central State Hospital has its share of ghosts.
Adding to the conditions faced by patients, was that the criminally insane were often housed with patients who had simple developmental disorders. When the criminally insane were first housed at Central State Hospital, they were often kept bound and restrained to their beds. It was rumored that a renovation during the 1950s uncovered several rooms with the restraint beds inside, or heavy chains hanging from the walls where patients were once kept. Sadly enough, it was common during the early years of psychiatry to use restraints to treat even common diseases such as schizophrenia. Former Hospital workers confirmed that some unruly patients were kept in these restraints.
People say that the empty lot where the main buildings once sat is the darkest place in the world, and that no matter how many lights are used, the area remains dark and heavy. Some believe it is the result of hundreds of deaths there, combined with th pain and suffering of former patients. Those who walk passed the empty lot are also said to hear the sound of wailing moans or the cries of former patients, and see strange shadows moving across the grass. There is also a tree where screams and moans are heard; in the 1940s, two patients fought, and one killed the other by beating him to death with a large rock. Some claim the patients themselves can also be seen, running through the field.
Another story told about Central State Hospital is the story of Alvin. Alvin was a patient at the hospital, who suddenly and abruptly vanished one day; he was there in the afternoon, but by bed check was gone. Despite a long and thorough search, he was never found. A few years later a female patient named Agnus started walking away during the day, and was always found sitting in the same place, near the basement where the severe cases were kept. Agnus eventually told a staff nurse that her friend Alvin was there, and she liked to go there to talk to him.
Thinking that the former patient may still be in the hospital, the staff leapt into action, ordering a full scale search of the basement. The search revealed nothing, until someone found an open crawl space; inside was the body of Alvin. Oddly enough, the same story is told about a former Ohio mental institution, only the missing patient was a female, who was only found after renovations of the hospital.
If you travel passed the former Central State Hospital today, be wary of any sounds you may hear, or strange shadows moving in the distance.

The Ghosts of Central State Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana


While the majority of buildings at the Central State Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, have been demolished, the ghosts that once dwelled within refuse to die.

Central State Hospital began in as the Indiana Hospital for the Insane. The need for a state funded mental institution, or asylum, was a source of contention; there was an obvious need, but debate ranged over where the funds would come from, and where the hospital would be place. This debate raged from 1827, until the doors opened in 1848. The Indiana Hospital for the Insane had five patients when it first opened, and consisted of only one building. In 1889 the name was changed to the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane, and changed again in 1928 to Central State Hospital.

The Hospital slowly grew to over 5,000 patients, and several buildings on over 100 acres of land in Indianapolis. There were two nearly identical buildings to keep the male and female patients separated, a medical building for non-mental illnesses, and a chapel. They even had a bowling alley for patients. The Hospital also offered occupational therapies that included jobs for the patients such as working in a bakery, and tending to the grounds.

When the Hospital was first built, it treated the mentally ill from around the country, but as other institutions were built, the needs of Central State changed. Eventually they treated only patients in the areas surrounding Indianapolis, but this still included 38 separate counties. The state chose to demolish the majority of the Hospital’s buildings in the 1970s, replacing them with newer buildings. The Hospital closed its doors for good in 1994. One original building that still stands is the Pathology Department, where the Indiana Medical History Museum is located.

Despite the name changes and additions, the purpose of the Hospital remained the same, to care for the mentally ill. Unfortunately treatment in those times was experimental and rudimentary at best. Women were often subjected to horrific treatments for something as simple as depression, treatments included submersion in ice cold water baths, and lobotomies were common place. Given the horrific things people once faced there, it shouldn’t be surprising that Central State Hospital has its share of ghosts.

Adding to the conditions faced by patients, was that the criminally insane were often housed with patients who had simple developmental disorders. When the criminally insane were first housed at Central State Hospital, they were often kept bound and restrained to their beds. It was rumored that a renovation during the 1950s uncovered several rooms with the restraint beds inside, or heavy chains hanging from the walls where patients were once kept. Sadly enough, it was common during the early years of psychiatry to use restraints to treat even common diseases such as schizophrenia. Former Hospital workers confirmed that some unruly patients were kept in these restraints.

People say that the empty lot where the main buildings once sat is the darkest place in the world, and that no matter how many lights are used, the area remains dark and heavy. Some believe it is the result of hundreds of deaths there, combined with th pain and suffering of former patients. Those who walk passed the empty lot are also said to hear the sound of wailing moans or the cries of former patients, and see strange shadows moving across the grass. There is also a tree where screams and moans are heard; in the 1940s, two patients fought, and one killed the other by beating him to death with a large rock. Some claim the patients themselves can also be seen, running through the field.

Another story told about Central State Hospital is the story of Alvin. Alvin was a patient at the hospital, who suddenly and abruptly vanished one day; he was there in the afternoon, but by bed check was gone. Despite a long and thorough search, he was never found. A few years later a female patient named Agnus started walking away during the day, and was always found sitting in the same place, near the basement where the severe cases were kept. Agnus eventually told a staff nurse that her friend Alvin was there, and she liked to go there to talk to him.

Thinking that the former patient may still be in the hospital, the staff leapt into action, ordering a full scale search of the basement. The search revealed nothing, until someone found an open crawl space; inside was the body of Alvin. Oddly enough, the same story is told about a former Ohio mental institution, only the missing patient was a female, who was only found after renovations of the hospital.

If you travel passed the former Central State Hospital today, be wary of any sounds you may hear, or strange shadows moving in the distance.

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