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Paranormal Encounters at the Mental Institutions


Rolling Hills Asylum

Rolling Hills Asylum




Originally, a carriage house and tavern servicing stage coaches stood there from 1790 until December 1826, when it was sold to Genesee County. The carriage house still stands on the property today. The tavern serviced travelers from Batavia, NY to Warsaw, NY traveling along what is now known as US Route 20. At that point, the facility took in paupers, unwed mothers, the insane, and orphans.


By the early 1950s, the facility served only as a nursing home, where it was then closed by 1972; stepping aside for a new facility in Batavia, NY.

First opened in 1827, the New York facility started as a poor house where society's dregs could be housed and purportedly receive care. Habitual drunkards, paupers, and lunatics were all welcome at the asylum, which included a farm where the able bodied would work to reduce the cost of housing. In 1928 a separate stone building was added to the facility specifically for the housing of "lunatics." The insane were housed there until 1887 when they were transferred to other facilities in the state. It closed outright in 1974. The thousands who died in the facility over its long years of operation are buried in the nearby potter's field.

Proprietress Sharon Coyle-Farley is just one of the many to have witnessed shadow apparitions playing tricks on the living. She was with two other paranormal investigators when one of them began being poked and prodded by an unseen force. Sharon quickly took a picture and captured the dark form of a hand reaching out to touch her friend. In another encounter, Ghost City Tours actually managed to capture a shadow figure on video as it walked across the decrepit hallway.

 Pennhurst Mental Asylum

Pennhurst Mental Asylum
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Pennhurst State School and Hospital was a terrible place. Opened in 1908, it was first named the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for Epileptics and Feeble Minded. Almost immediately, it was overcrowded. The sprawling complex was designed to be self-sufficient, and while it was open it received very little contact with the outside world.

Rampant neglect escalated to the point where patients would be left bound in their metal cribs for months. Patients suffered abuse, rape, and death at the hands of both staff and other patients. Punishments for bad behavior were harsh. For example, when a patient showed a proclivity for biting, they would have their teeth removed. An expose by NBC titled "Suffer the Little Children" began drawing attention to the conditions at the facility in 1968, and in 1987 it was closed.

Over 10,000 patients were admitted to the asylum over the years, and its unclear how many died there. Paranormal investigators regularly record EVPs in the dilapidated old buildings, frequently hearing the screams of children calling out from beyond the grave. The Ghost Adventures crew captured a plethora of paranormal evidence during their investigation of Pennhurst. They encountered inexplicable footsteps, ghostly screams, and disembodied voices. Zak Bagans was even assaulted by one spirit wielding a stick with nails sticking out of it. This paranormal hot spot can best be described as extremely active.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum


After being interrupted by the Civil War, construction on this West Virginia asylum was finally completed in 1881, though the first patient was actually admitted in 1864. The facility was built following the Kirkbride Plan which called for the massive gothic buildings typical of asylums during the era. It was designed to house 250 patients, but at one point overcrowding led to 2,400 patients.

During its 130 years in operation, the facility bore witness to countless horrors within the grounds. Misbehaving patients were routinely chained up in solitary confinement for months at a time. Several murders occurred here, with the victims including both patients and staff. One murder was committed by a patient named Joe. With the help of a friend he grabbed the recently lobotomized patient Charley and placed him on the ground. They picked up a bed and placed a post on Charley's head... and then jumped on the bed.

While countless souls have been witnessed wandering the halls of the abandoned asylum, the spirit of a young girl named Lilly is particularly well documented. Asylum expert Shelley Bailey was with a group in the "blue room" when she encountered the spirit. The group asked Lilly if she would like to play, and placed a red ball on the floor. A few moments later, the ball rolled on its own to the far wall. The group played with Lilly for several minutes, bouncing the ball back and forth with their invisible playmate.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium


Waverly Hills Sanatorium


The Kentucky facility was initially opened in 1924 as a hospital to treat tuberculosis. In 1962, after advances in medicine rendered tuberculosis a thing of the past, it closed its doors only to reopen a year later as a geriatric hospital for the treatment of mental illness. It was closed in 1980 amid evidence of abuse and neglect, and has stood vacant since - save for the spirits that still reside there.

One such spirit is a young nurse who worked at the sanatorium in the 1930s. After finding out she was pregnant out of wedlock, and allegedly contracting tuberculosis, she did something drastic. She decided to hang herself in Room 502.

When the Ghost Adventures crew investigated the site, they caught some pretty compelling evidence. A shadow figure was filmed walking through the halls toward the camera. They also captured the audible moan of a patient who had long since left the living, but not the building.


Willard Asylum



The first patient was admitted to this New York asylum in 1869 with great expectations of improving the care of the chronically mentally ill. Said patient had previously been kept confined for 10 years, usually naked with only a blanket, so the bar was set pretty low. The asylum operated until 1995 when it closed for budgetary reasons. Parts of it have been reopened as the Willard Drug Treatment Center, a specialized state prison for drug offenders.

One ghost in particular has been seen many times over the years. One of the doctors at the asylum who had long, red hair became a patient herself. As one of the old buildings was being restored for housing, there were two corrections officers staying there overnight. After catching a glimpse of the red-haired apparition, they left in the dead of night, leaving all their belongings behind.


Whittingham Hospital

Whittingham Hospital


This UK lunatic asylum was once one of the largest in Europe. Located in Lancashire, it first opened in 1873. In the 1960s, allegations of abuse and ill-treatment began emerging. It was alleged some nurses would give patients "the wet towel treatment" where they would wrap a wet towel around their neck until they passed out. It was also alleged a staff member actually set a patient on fire. All of the misconduct was denied, but much of the staff was discharged. The hospital remained open until 1995 when it was shuttered as part of the move toward deinstitutionalization.

Lawrence Butterfield worked at the hospital from 1986 to 1988. Late one night, around 3 am, he was chatting with a coworker when suddenly the coworker fell silent. She told Butterfield she saw a shape on his shoulder for a few seconds before it disappeared. “I didn’t feel anything on my shoulder, but I can tell you after that I was a bit on edge for the rest of the shift.” Butterfield said.

Ghost hunters have captured more than a few paranormal events at the location. Several EVPs have recorded groans, screams, and disembodied voices. Other investigations found evidence using a rem-pod (an electromagnetic frequency detector) and spirit box (an audio device designed to capture ghost communication).


Denbigh Mental Asylum

Denbigh Mental Asylum



This psychiatric hospital was opened in 1848 as the first such facility in Wales. During its nearly 150 years of operation, the site offered lobotomies, electro-shock therapy, insulin shock therapy, and all sorts of other experimental treatments. After its closure in 1995, it became a hot spot for paranormal investigation up until much of the facility was destroyed by a fire.

The UK-based Dark Arts Paranormal Team investigated During their stay at the asylum, they conversed with spirits using a spirit box. The audio device scans through frequencies to make it easier for spirits to communicate using the white noise. One of the investigators had her hair pulled by a spirit. Later, the crew catches several spirit orbs darting across the camera.



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