The word "hospital" can mean many different things from a positive place of healing to a scary destination, especially for those that are abandoned. Many of these sanatoriums, asylums, psychiatric, mental, and medical hospitals have interesting as well as foreboding histories. If you're traveling to any of these destinations to see the relics, up-close and personal, it would be one of those times where you' think, "if only the walls could talk." The stories would be a blend of intrigue and mystery that have mystified those who dare to walk the corridors of these long-forgotten institutions. It's only natural, a visit would evoke more than a little apprehensive about what went on behind closed doors and what may still be lurking, at some, even today.
Around the world, these hospitals range from traditional design to architectural wonders with their alcoves, dark staircases, imposing porticoes, brick facades, and corridors leading to rooms with their own stories to tell. Many have equally impressive outer buildings such as pavilions, cottages, separate wards for the more threatening, and buildings where resident nurses made their homes.
Come along as we visit these massive buildings that housed thousands of patients. While visiting, put yourself in their place and imagine what it must have been like to walk the long hallways morning, noon, and night.
From Scotland and Ireland to Kentucky and Illinois, and points in-between, the story of each hospital is a look at times past that in some cases, are best forgotten.
25 Beelitz-Heilstatten, Germany
Designed by the Berlin Workers' Health Insurance Corporation in 1898, the 60-building sanatorium was used as a facility for lung disease patients. During WWI, it was transformed into a military hospital with its most famous patient, a certain young dictator, was treated for a leg wound in 1916.
Some buildings have been restored while the majority sit silently with their corridors, stained glass windows, statuary, tile work, and discarded equipment. It is dark and foreboding but continually draws visitors interested in the guided tour.
24 Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Kentucky
Originally opened in 1908 as a two-story frame hospital for 40-50 tuberculosis patients, the facility soon became too small to accommodate the number of patients afflicted with the disease, which had taken on epidemic proportions. In 1926, the current Gothic architecture is the result of a new sanatorium designed to hold an estimated 400 patients.
It closed in 1961 when a cure for TB was discovered. It reopened again from 1962-1981 as the WoodHaven Medical facility for the elderly. The beautifully detailed sanatorium fell into disrepair after the facility closed and became the target of vandals until 2001 when it was privately purchased.
Today, Waverly Hills is maintained and renovated by its owners and the Waverly Hills Historical Society through tours and special events.
One last thing; Waverly Hills Sanatorium has the distinction as being referred to as "one of the most haunted places on Earth."
23 Severalls Hospital, Colchester, UK
Designed by architect Frank Whitmore, the hospital became the second lunatic asylum in Essex due to overcrowding at the Essex County Asylum. The new hospital with its distinctive Neo Georgian architecture opened its doors on May 27, 1913 with accommodations for a maximum of 1,800 patients.
The second hospital was renamed to Severalls in 1930. The hospital served as a military base then a hospital during World War I caring for upwards of 3,600 soldiers. Additions to the hospital took place in the 1930s due to overcrowding.
It closed in 1997 and the property was purchased by a development company with plans to build residential homes on the site.
22 Buffalo State Asylum, New York
The Buffalo State Asylum - now known as the Richardson Olmsted Campus - was home to thousands of people, which included the patients, staff, nurses, and doctors. Built in the 1870s, the 11-building facility was created using the design ideas of Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. The hospital closed in 1970 and is now a National Historic Landmark.
After many millions in renovation costs, three of the 11 buildings were refurbished to create the 88-room/suite Hotel Henry named after architect Henry Hobson Richardson. The grounds of the hospital were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Several guided tours are available for either 1- or 2-hour increments.
21 Athens Asylum, Ohio
A door to nowhere.
The Athens Lunatic Asylum operated from 1874 to 1993 as a facility treating children, criminals, and veterans. The architect was Levi T. Scofield whose design was influenced by Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, created what was to become one of Ohio's largest employers with much of the work completed by the patients free of charge.
Following the standards of other institutions, Athens used the same types of treatments that today are considered inhumane. In the mid-80s, the hospital was renamed to The Ridges and ultimately resided on over 1,000 acres. The hospital has three cemeteries that provoke stories of paranormal activities.
Today, the original site and buildings belong to Ohio University with many buildings in use. Guided tours of the grounds, cemeteries, and some of the interiors are offered for an informative walk through time.
20 Fairfield Hills State Hospital, Connecticut
This massive hospital opened in the early 1930s with the purpose of alleviating crowded conditions in two insane asylums. The hospital consists of 16 buildings situated on over 700 acres.
At its peak, Fairfield Hills State Hospital was home to an estimated 4,000 patients many of whom were treated with numerous methods that today would not be allowed.
Beneath the hospital, a network of underground tunnels connects the buildings. Needless to say, the hospital has a reputation for supernatural and spooky occurrences that draws those interested in things that go bump in the night as well as photographers and those interested in historical places. The city of Newtown owns the property.
19 Cook County Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
The vintage historic hospital, which has sat empty for 16 years, is scheduled for a multi-million-dollar facelift, which is a good thing since the hospital is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The formidable hospital opened in 1857 as a teaching hospital. In 2002, a new facility was built and renamed as the John Stroger Jr. Hospital and situated adjacent to the original Cook County Hospital.
The corridors are dark, the rooms still hold equipment, and that windows where patients peered out are still intact. Renovation plans include a hotel, apartments, stores, and a new outpatient medical facility. The Cook County Hospital won its star status when the TV show, St. Elsewhere, used the hospital as its fictional base. Good move by Chicago for retaining a historical building.
18 Ospedale Psychiatric Hospital, Tuscany, Italy
Located in Volterra, Italy, Ospedale Psychiatric Hospital is everything one would expect from an abandoned structure left to nature to reclaim. Although decaying with most windows broken, it seems nature prefers not to enter the facility according to visitor Dr. J. M. Levine when he walked through the facility. Odd.
The hospital has a dark history although when it opened in the late 19th century, it was touted as a state-of-the-art facility, but metal bars adorn every window and door, which suggests a change in attitude as it became known as "the place of no return."
At one time, over 6,000 patients were crowded into the facility. One can only imagine how it was to be sent there when walking through the crumbling hallways lined by impressive doorways. The hospital closed in 1978 and remains a destination of interest for exploring the past.
17 The Asylum, Poveglia Island, Italy
Located between Lido and Venice, Poveglia Island has a long history dating back centuries. The island has had many roles. It was a refuge from barbarians, was uninhabited for centuries, became a checkpoint for ships in the 17th century, and a confinement station for people with the plague. In the early part of the 20th century, the island was once again a quarantine station until 1922 when the buildings on the island were designated as a mental asylum.
The island remained home to the Asylum until its closing in 1968. The island and its buildings have remained forgotten since that time. Legend has it that many souls still inhabit the island making it a major supernatural destination.
16 Morisset Hospital for the Insane, NSW, Australia
Here we have the remains of Ward 21, or more affectionately known as "The Crim."
Built in 1933, this outbuilding was set at a good distance away from the main asylum as it housed the most criminally insane patients. Ward 21 was surrounded by tall walls for added security least the patients found a way to escape.
Morisset Hospital housed an estimated 1,400 psychiatric patients as late as 1963 diagnosed with varying degrees of mental distress. The 1300-acre mental hospital opened in 1909 and is listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register. As of 2014, many of the original buildings, while in bad condition, offered an up-close look at asylum life.
15 Lier Hospital, Oslo, Norway
A room with a view. Opened in 1920 and closed in 1985, Lier Mental Hospital remained a symbol of what it meant to be part of a psychiatric environment. The hospital was a symbol of what patients were subjected to during that time that would, today, be considered barbaric.
As of 2012, the main buildings and outbuildings were still standing although in great disrepair. Although nature was reclaiming the space, the exterior architecture and interior rooms still showed numerous signs of subtle beauty captured by photographers. The hospital, which sat on a hill surrounded by lush landscape, became a destination for photographers who captured the essence of Lier through an array of pictures through the years.
According to a post made August 30, 2018, the hospital has been demolished.
14 Charles Camsell Hospital, Edmonton, BC
While the Charles Camsell Hospital looks like a standard medical facility from the outside, its interior poses a different picture. Used from 1946 to 1968 as a tuberculosis sanatorium, there are stories of segregation among patients with different treatments used on different people. In 1967, the current hospital was built closing its doors in 1996.
The history of the Camsell indicates there were often unnecessary treatments. The hospital has the dubious distinction as one of Edmonton's most spooked locations with ghost hunters noting there is some strange activity going on.
The property was purchased by a development company in 2004, who, as of 2018 have instigated plans to renovate the building and turn it into a condominium. What a great place to live!
13 Crownsville State Hospital, Maryland
Founded in 1911, Crownsville State Hospital was built on 556 acres of farmland. Many of the patients took part in building the facility that was for criminally insane. Patients participated in taking care of the crops and farm animals and harvested wood.
The history of this hospital is tainted. People were admitted to the insane asylum even when they weren't ill, including children and criminals. Around 1,700 patients are buried in the hospital cemetery, yet many graves have only numbers and no names; no records exist. The hospital closed in 2004.
12 Henryton State Hospital, Maryland
Founded in 1918 as the Maryland Tuberculosis Sanatorium, the hospital treated patients until 1962. It was renamed as the Henryton State Hospital with the capability of treating 400 patients. In 1985, the hospital closed its doors.
The impressive hospital stood empty for years and became a hot spot for ghost hunters who roamed the long corridors, traversed foreboding staircases, visited the ornate theater room, and witnessed pieces of history from the past in hospital rooms.
In 2013, the last remaining 19 buildings were demolished, burying the hospital's secrets forever.
11 No Name, San Luis Obispo, California
There's only a little information on this formidable destination. From information gleaned from posts, forums, and pictures, this was once a place for children.
From posts of 2014, the building was in bad condition due to fire, a damaged roof, flooring that was dangerous to walk on, a large hole in the flooring, and staircases near to collapsing.
10 Tranquille Sanatorium, Kamloops Lake, BC
Built in the early 1900s, Tranquille Sanatorium - formerly the King Edward VII Memorial Sanatorium - had multiple uses. It treated patients with tuberculosis, it had a psych ward, and it served as a training hospital for aspiring nurses. The TB hospital closed in 1958 reopening in 1959.
The facility is expansive, as are the grounds, which provided space and fresh air that were necessary for treating TB patients back in the day.
The sanatorium is privately owned and used for a variety of educational purposes with tours covering the history of the area, tours of some of the buildings, and a trek among the underground tunnels, which transported more than food and laundry in and out of the facility.
This is one of the few deserted hospitals in the list that is being revitalized.
9 Northhampton State Hospital, Massachusetts
Built as an institution for the insane, Northampton State Hospital opened its doors on July 1, 1858 to its first patient. Designed to accommodate 200 patients, the institution quickly surpassed that number, which resulted in additional buildings being constructed over the years.
At its peak, the hospital housed 2,500 patients. The institution was managed by Dr. Pliny Earle until his retirement in 1885. The hospital officially closed in 1993.
Northampton State Hospital suffered the same fate as Henryton State Hospital; it was totally demolished in 2006 with the property being sold to a residential development company. Although the buildings are gone, it is considered a "spirited" site.
8 Denbigh Mental Asylum, Wales
Denbigh Asylum, also known as the North Wales Hospital, was designed by Thomas Fulljames and completed in 1848 to accommodate 200 patients. By 1899 and multiple expansions, the asylum held 1,500 patients.
The imposing Gothic architecture sets the tone for what was once a place where people were sent for psychiatric treatment, but people were admitted due to alcoholism and for infidelity, which was seen as a mental illness.
On the positive side, the hospital was self-sufficient with multiple buildings for different activities, workshops, farms, and gardens. The asylum closed in 1995 and has remained empty. In 2018, according to a report from BBC News, the area will be redeveloped with the main structure turned into apartments and the surrounding property will have 200 new homes built.
7 Bangour Village Hospital, Scotland
Bangour Village Hospital opened on October 6, 1906 with hastily built temporary structures to ease the burden of the already overcrowded Royal Edinburgh Asylum.
During WWI, it served as a military hospital that housed several thousand injured soldiers, and again in WWII.
Thereafter, Bangour continued as a psychiatric hospital until 2004 when it closed its doors. Since then, it has been a movie set and a training facility. The property was sold to a housing developer with plans to utilize the original structures in a variety of ways beneficial to the community. Hats off to the developer with the foresight to salvage a piece of Scottish history.
6 Trans-Allegheny Asylum, West Virginia
Imagine walking along this corridor at night. Then imagine taking the staircase barely visible in the dark recesses of the wall. Where does it go? What's waiting when you reach the top? How many people traversed these stairs? Inquiring minds want to know the answers.
The Trans-Allegheny began treating the mentally ill in the 1800s and has many stories to tell of that time in history. Like many other abandoned hospitals, it is considered a location for unnatural activity.
Plan a visit and take one of the tours of this National Historic Landmark and be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for unusual happenings.
5 Larundel Psychiatric Hospital, Australia
Construction began on Larundel in 1938 as a replacement for the Kew Mental Hospital. Its purpose was to treat psychiatric patients but it also served as a training base for women of the AAF in 1943. It also served as a residence for families that were homeless.
In 1953, Larundel officially opened as a mental hospital. The environment, unlike some other hospitals, was gentle with patients involved by doing work on the farm. With the advent of community-based care versus institutional care, Larundel was closed in 1999 and sat idle for years.
Many of the original heritage buildings have been converted to residents for students while others remain intact with plans for renovation.
4 Stone House Hospital, Dartford, UK
The City of London Pauper Lunatic Asylum opened in 1866. In 1924, the asylum was renamed as the Stone House Hospital where it continued in operation as a medical facility until 2005.
The original cost of construction for the building was 65,000 pounds with another 3,000 + pounds to purchase the surrounding 33 acres. More acreage was added as the need for more buildings was necessary, which required additional construction in 1874, 1878, and 1885.
This is one abandoned hospital, that, unlike many others, has a happy ending. In 2012, permission was granted to turn the main hospital, coach-house, stable, and superintendent's cottage into 266 rental flats now known as The Residence.
What a wonderful way to preserve a piece of history and save a magnificent piece of Tudor Revival architecture. Way to go, UK.
3 Rancho Los Amigos, Downey, CA
The last update on this location was in January, 2018. The hospital, at that time, was still standing and still being guarded by numerous police and security personnel. The hospital grounds are expansive with multiple buildings, barracks-type structures, outbuildings, power plant, and a large water tower. It is a fine example of a self-sustained facility.
The hospital is completely fenced in with no trespassing signs just about everywhere you look. Unfortunately, the warnings haven't stopped some inquiring minds from finding their way onto the property. Definitely not recommended.
2 Danvers State Lunatic Hospital, Massachusetts
Impressive, imposing, and intimidating would be the way to describe the former Danvers Hospital. Opened in 1878 atop a hill surrounded by 500 acres, Danvers followed the principle of Dr. Thomas S. Kirkbride that patients needed a beautiful and natural environment as part of their treatment. It was a self-sufficient facility originally known as the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers that promoted forward thinking in treating mental patients. Danvers also served as a teaching school for nurses. It remained open until June 24, 1992.
The property was purchased by a developer and while some of the buildings were demolished the main building and two adjoining wards were converted to residential apartments.
An interesting note; the judge who presided over the Salem witch trials once lived on Hathorne Hill where Danvers State Hospital was built.
1 Western Lunatic Asylum, Staunton, VA
The Western Lunatic Asylum - renamed Western State Hospital in 1894 - admitted its first patent on July 24, 1828. It was a step up in accommodating the mentally ill with its resort-style environment featuring gardens, roof terraces for walking, and other amenities to support healing in a natural environment.
This was the case for many years until overcrowding took over in the 19th century, which resulted in poor care and treatments.
In 2008, condominiums were available within the Western State Hospital Complex, which is listed as a National Historic District. The original building is listed as a National Historical Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.