Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Huntington's Haunted State Hospital

Now known as the Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital (named for Dr. Mildred Mitchell Bateman and dedicated October 2, 1999), the massive psychiatric hospital on Norway Avenue began life in 1897 as the Home for Incurables.  It would later be simply known as Huntington State Hospital.

In the 1950s, the hospital was under deep scrutiny for its overcrowding, under staffing, and lack of sanitary, modern equipment and facilities.  Patients were segregated only by gender, and never by diagnosis.  Two staff members were assigned to up to 80 patients at a time, and the children's ward was accessible only by a steep, twisting metal ladder.  Resources were lacking, and patients had to share only a few washbasins between them.

 However, nothing could prepare the hospital for the devastation that it would come to on November 26, 1952.  That night around 7pm, fire broke out in the basement of Ward Four, which housed women and children.  The fire burned for two hours before it was contained, and many of the children had to be carried by hand down the steep, twisted ladder. 

When the fire was finally extinguished, many of the patients gathered in the kitchen, which was housed in a separate building.  The staff had tripped the locks so that the patients could flee on their own, yet 14 souls were still lost that night.  9 women and 5 girls under the age of 14 perished in the fire, which led to further outcry for funding for the hospital.

Today, it is these unfortunate souls lost in the fire, plus many others who spent their last, pitiful days in the hospital's darker history, who are still believed to walk its halls.  Many reports of apparitions come directly from staff members, including a man who is seen walking into room 306, a woman wearing distinct red shoes seen walking towards where the former morgue was kept, and the shadowy figure of someone hanging and swinging in the same spot where a patient took his life in the same manner.  Shadowy figures have also been seen in the present kitchen area, and doors are known to slam shut on their own accord.

The hospital sits directly across from Springhill Cemetery, and it is believed that the cemetery is also haunted by the unfortunate souls of those who passed away at the hospital, unclaimed by family members, only to be buried in the pauper section of the cemetery.  

Recent Photo Gallery from the Herald-Dispatch of the 1952 fire

31 comments:

  1. I DID SECURITY THERE AT THE HOSPITAL AND NEVER SAW ANY APARITIONS!

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    1. Consider yourself lucky! If you would have started seeing things, you might have easily found yourself on the OTHER side of the keys!

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  2. I work there now and I have seen things, unexplainable things.. I also walk in Spring Hill Cemetery, and have felt "cold spots" there.

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    1. Cool! I have a former collegue who worked there and she had several unexplainable things happen as well. It seems counter-intuitive, but in most of these mental health locations, its the staff that reports more sightings than the patients! Thanks for sharing, and thanks for visiting.

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  3. Does anyone know whom to contact to see if they will allow Paranormal Groups to come in and investigate. All assistance will help! Thanks a bunch! :-)

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    1. This is an active, operating psychiatric health facility. Due to liability issues, HIPPA laws, etc, I would wager that paranormal investigations are NOT a likely possibility in the near future.

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  4. i would like to see what they find in the old cabell county jail

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    1. I haven't heard of any stories about that location, so if you have some, I'd love to hear! Anyway, I do know that the new Western Regional Jail certainly has had its share of ghostly legends already: http://theresashauntedhistoryofthetri-state.blogspot.com/2011/03/western-regional-jail.html

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  5. I currently work here now in one of the newer, remodeled building but am getting transferred to where room 306 is to work midnights. I'm pretty excited as I've never actually seen any sort of apparition in my life. My buddy and myself would walk in the basements, around the grounds, and in the Springhill cemetery around 4am for quite a few nights. Unfortunately, it was during our lunch hour and never did really catch/see anything paranormal, but hopefully sometime in my career, I'll get to see something and will definitely report it!

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    1. Nice! If you experience anything, please share!

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    2. I currently work there as well but i have only heard the same voice on 2 occasions in the same night on the other end of unit 3 around room 313. Although room 306 does stay extremely cold all of the time.

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  6. I had a little brother that passed away there In 56..He was Autistic and In perfict health and was dead In 10 day's.I was 10 years old and still remember my parents walking him in there as I sat In my aunt's car.Their all gone now but my other aunt ask me If I remember him about a year ago..she said he had been embalmed there when the funeral home picked up his body and my Dad told them not to touch him until he saw how he looked..she said he has bruisess all over his little body..I would love to know What happen to him there....

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your brother; I'll say a little prayer that he passed as peacefully as possible, and now, is at his ultimate peace.

      Institutions such as these were more often than not TERRIBLE places to be, thanks to overcrowding, understaffing, lack of segregation in regards to severity of infliction/gender/age, and just a general misunderstanding of various disorders. To compound the problem, families that had children with a range of diagnoses weren't given many options, as schooling and training on how to care for them just weren't available, and doctors and society pushed for them to be institutionalized in their best interest. With such horrors as an everyday part of life in such locations, its no wonder that whatever one's personal belief system may be, the perception of these places as haunted is very real to many.

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  7. Does anyone know if you can do paranormal investigations there? Would love to look into this place.

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    1. This is an active hospital facility, so no, paranormal investigations are not allowed.

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    2. yea i work there and they wouldn't let any paranormal investigators come in for their safety and the patients safety....but it would be kool to know though

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  8. I remember walking past the entrance to the hospital in the '70s. A man wearing a top hat and suit walked past me as I was walking slow. I remember thinking he looked strange but, before I pasted the hospital the same man walked past me again. Any other mentions of this man outside the entrance of the hospital being seen?

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    1. I've never heard anyone mention this "hat man" of the hospital, but that does sound un-nerving! I'll be on the lookout for any more sightings, and please, if anyone out there has seen him or has any information, feel free to post here in the comments or email me!

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  9. Im currently a night time security guard there and we have to do rounds on the outside the building and as i have not seen any aspirations as soon as i walk by building 5 i get cold chills all over and if im listening to my music around building 5 i do hear stuff other than my music come across my headphones......

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    1. i meant apirations sorry didn't mean to put the s in there. and also i have talked to staff members and they have seen a little girl in red down in the kitchen area of the hsopital....

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    2. Wow! Thanks for sharing those experiences. Let us know if anything else happens to you or you hear anything else!

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    3. i took a picture the other day and got a couple of things in the pics but i took them on the outside of the gate and in one of thm i got what looks like to b a face......

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    4. if u have an email address i can send it to ya......

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  10. I am a Security officer there over night, I have been through a lot of the interior buildings and have heard a few voices, one of my co-workers and I was in the Lower level and heard a little girl laugh. Down towards the last building it is at least 10 to 15° cooler right at the building all the way around. Its like the coldest part of the facility. Its interesting to me,

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    1. That does sound interesting! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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  11. My grandma worked there during that time and she told the family that place was haunted in the 50's. I still have her pic they took in her nurse hat. She said they kept everyone doped up on thorazine &valium,even her own son who was my dad.the doctor who worked there wrote some kind book

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    1. Thanks for sharing your family's history with this location; its fascinating that the place had a haunted reputation going back that far.

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  12. i used to be in that hospital in may i slept in 306 and omfg i was paranoid as hell it was freaking creepy i thought there was something strange about it!

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  13. My cousin worked as maintenance from 1956-1994. Refused to say anything about the place other than the basements of the buildings held enough dead to fill Spring Hill

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    1. That's really a profound statement. Thank you for sharing your cousin's insights with us!

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