Save your local insane asylum.
November 9, 2002 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Save your local insane asylum. When I was young and my mother would get frustrated with her brood she would merely have to say, "You are all going to send me straight to Milledgeville!" to strike terror in our souls and cause us all to behave for at least the rest of the day.
posted by oh posey (18 comments total)
Here's a creepy gallery of photos taken inside an abandoned asylum, from Modern Ruins Photographic Essays.
posted by staggernation at 8:41 AM on November 9, 2002

My Mom would just say "If you kids don't start acting right, I'll make you stay overnight in Terrell with Grandma!"

We usually tried to straighten up, as Grandma liked to ask about your sex life. Fun stuff for eight year old kids.
posted by bradth27 at 8:47 AM on November 9, 2002

Bryce Hospital is still operational and actually deep within the campus of the University of Alabama. There was also an area referred to as "Old Bryce" which has become a creepy Halloween tradition for students, as well as an excellent place to have sex.
posted by Stan Chin at 8:51 AM on November 9, 2002

After the Second World War, a lot of castles here (in Slovenia) were turned into insane asylums. Some of them still house the mentally ill, including Hrastovec, which looks like a glorious place to visit until you get closer and hear the shouts and rantings of the insane.
posted by Ljubljana at 9:14 AM on November 9, 2002

i lived in milledgeville my entire life until i came to college. very small boring town...nice place to visit but i told my mother i was never living at home again. everyone knows the town because of the mental hospital and the prisons.
posted by hazelmeg at 10:03 AM on November 9, 2002

Session 9 was a pretty decent scary movie that featured Danvers State Hospital in Danvers, MA. It made me want to go crawl around the place at night.
posted by jennyb at 12:07 PM on November 9, 2002

I see that Dorothea Dix Hospital of Raleighis "coming soon" to the Historic Asylums web site. It is being closed down and I need to get over to the hospital museum before it does.

What makes Insane Asylums so spooky? Fear of regular hospitals makes sense because you can pick up a nasty staph infection or TB, but there is nothing catching at the hospital for the insane, is there? That atmosphere of lurking dread is what made Session 9 so creepy.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:14 PM on November 9, 2002

Oh I should add that the movie was filmed on location at Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:20 PM on November 9, 2002

In NJ, we lived near:

Ancora State Hospital

which is on the big bad list on the main link. It was also known as the "Ancora State Hospital for the Criminally Insane", which was nice for us kids to have to live near. They would have the state police swarming the town whenever somebody a matter of fact, across the street from the hospital is a run down town that few people live in any's all boarded up windows and doors. I don't know if it's a "half-way neighborhood" or what, but it adds to the scariness.

On top of that, back in the woods behind the hospital is a graveyard for all the inmates that've died over the years and didn't have family to care for them. You can get to it from a road some distance behind the hospital, and then by walking through the woods. We've gone there a few times, and scared ourselves silly. Halloween was a good time around there, too.

All in all, a scary, dangerous place.
posted by taumeson at 12:35 PM on November 9, 2002

Ooops, guess I didn't need to add that!

But this piece of information fromThe Dorothea Dix Hospital cemetery page:

Employees used kitchen forks to poke the ground locating caskets that had drifted...With the passage of time, many graves had deteriorated significantly so that the graves had collapsed leaving depressions in the soil... For nearly a century, only a cross and a stamped number marked most graves. Thus, hiding the family name from the shame of their sickness.

Now, that is creepy!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:39 PM on November 9, 2002

Metafilter: A glorious place to visit until you get closer and hear the shouts and rantings of the insane
posted by rushmc at 12:53 PM on November 9, 2002

Dorothea Dix in NC has been fondly known for years as "Dix Hill" of the reasons it is being closed is it sits on some mighty fine real estate in Raleigh. Duh.

Here's the info on the real Dorothea Dix herself.
posted by konolia at 1:54 PM on November 9, 2002

"If you kids don't start acting right, I'll make you stay overnight in Terrell"

When I was a child, I was similarly threatened with ending up in Knowle (now closed and the site being redeveloped as an 'ideal village'). More on British asylums at the Rossbret Asylums Website and the Index of British and Welsh asylums
posted by raygirvan at 2:30 PM on November 9, 2002

I drove by Eastern State Hospital the other morning and the film crews for Seabiscuit were there filming on the front steps. (Elizabeth Banks, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, William H Macy and Tobey Maguire).

These great buildings are worth saving.
posted by tomplus2 at 4:51 PM on November 9, 2002

I'm okay with them tearing down Eastern State, as long as Tobey Macguire is trapped inside at the time. We have to be sure to get William H. Macy out, though.
posted by Samsonov14 at 5:42 PM on November 9, 2002

I don't get it. Why would you want to preserve these places? Maybe the architecture is nice, so turn 'em into hotels or something, but museums? That's like making a museum out of Auschwitz, which I don't understand either. These were and are evil places. Even today's mental hospitals are home to horrendous abuses of power, malpractice, political imprisonment, and routine sexual and physical abuse. Yesterday's were far worse — they tell me Dorothea Dix used to offer a bounty to anyone who managed to get someone committed, and no wonder, because these places are expensive as hell and make some people very, very rich. I say burn them and let their victims rest in peace.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:30 AM on November 11, 2002

Care to find us a link to that supposed Dorothea Dix bounty thing?
posted by konolia at 8:51 AM on November 11, 2002

Architecture apart, this thread prompted a little reflection on the mindset of a generation that commonly threatened sending children to the lunatic asylum. In the UK at least, it seems to have been one of the icons of social control (alongside "the policeman will come and take you away") with people institutionalized for misdemeanours minor by current standards. This week's Observer mentioned the story of Gonzague Saint Bris, a diplomat's son who in 1953 was sent to a Brighton asylum for elderly people - for naughtiness at the age of 5.
posted by raygirvan at 2:12 PM on November 11, 2002

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