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Athens Lunatic Asylum ( The Ridges)




Opening in 1874, the Athens Lunatic Asylum was one of Ohio’s largest facilities for dealing with the mentally ill. Locals called it “The Ridges,” and for years, it was the home of countless Civil War veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. As people began to drop off the teenagers they couldn’t control and the elderly they didn’t want, the facility became grossly overcrowded.



The staff was overwhelmed, patients were gradually put to work on the property, and the quality of care spiraled downward. When the hospital closed in 1993, locals began to tell stories about the ghosts of abused residents who had died tragic deaths and were still haunting the hospital
On December 1, 1978, a female patient named Margaret Schilling disappeared from one of the active wards. On January 12, 1979, they found her body in the abandoned top floor of ward N. 20. This ward had been used for sick, infectious patients, and had been closed down for years. They had searched the hospital for the woman when they realized she was missing but apparently hadn't looked in ward N. 20. When a maintenance man discovered her body lying on the floor in front of a window, she had been dead for several weeks. 



The official cause of death was heart failure--probably due to her exposure to the December cold in an unheated section of the hospital. She apparently locked herself in the ward as a game, hiding from hospital employees. Before she died she took off her clothes and folded them neatly nearby. 



One has to wonder why she didn't call for help. Part of the legend that has not been confirmed is that she was a deaf mute. Another bit of Ridges apocrypha is the story that she was locked in accidentally as the final patients were moved out and the hospital was closed down; because she was a deaf mute she couldn't call for attention, and spent her final days wandering the halls alone. 
Some say that Margaret Schilling wanders the building at night. They say that other patients, especially those who died at the hospital, wander the building at night. Rumors about patients chained in the basement dungeons add fuel to this kind of thing; I once spoke to someone who knew a guy who knew a guy who saw the shackles in the basement and, next to them, a message scrawled on the wall: "I was never crazy." Maintenance workers told us that several of the windowsills do have drawings and carvings left behind by patients, but medieval cellar chainings are probably just stories.




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