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Indiana Central State Hospital –
HauntedHouses.com

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Central State Hospital Buildings & Museum - 2005

LOCATION:

It is found on the West side of Indianapolis, around the streets of Tibbs Avenue, Washington Street, Warman Avenue, and Vermont Street.

DESCRIPTION/HISTORY:

In November of 1848, The Indiana Hospital for the Insane opened its doors for patients, who suffered from a variety of mental illnesses, ranging from depression to various forms of psychosis, admitting 5 people. The mentally handicapped, called "Simple" also wound up being committed here. The criminally insane also were housed here. The Hospital at this point consisted of one brick building sitting on over 100 acres of land. After 1926, the hospital was renamed Central State Hospital.

As was to be expected, the Hospital grew in leaps and bounds to eventually house and care for 3,000 patients by 1928. From 1848 to 1948, there were many buildings constructed to keep up with the patient load, which now came from 38 counties found in the central area of the State. Since 1905, other hospitals were built to take care of patients from the other counties which used to feed into Central State Hospital.

Efforts were made to create a pleasant place for people to live in. Two massive ornate Victorian castle-like buildings, called The Seven Gables were built for male and female patients. They can be seen in the photo above - Northern part of the picture.

An assortment of buildings amidst the gardens, fountains and fine landscaping were also provided to house important services. These include a Pathological Department, the red brick building posted above to the right of the sign which is now a museum, a "sick" hospital which treated physical ailments, a farm colony which provided occupational therapy, a chapel, a recreation facility, a fire station, a cannery where patients worked, a Pathology Department and a laundry facility. In the basement of the Pathology Department, the worst inmates who never stopped screaming and /or attacked staff or other patients were kept there in the early years of the Hospital.

There were over five miles of tunnels which connected the various buildings which spread out over the huge acreage. There were dark rooms off the tunnels with chains and shackles on the walls.

In the late 1970s, the Seven Gables and other old Victorian buildings were declared structurally unsafe and torn down. In a another location, common institutional brick dorms were built to house the patients. A large lawn now grows where The Seven Gables once stood.

The expense of running a large Hospital combined with claims of patients being abused caused those in government to come up with other less expensive, smaller unit alternatives to take care of the mentally ill which led to the closing of Central State Hospital in 1994. The state of Indiana took over the property, restoring some of the buildings and opening the Indiana Medical History Museum among others.

Patients who died while living here were buried in unmarked graves in two locations around 100 years ago, which were recently discovered. A "significant cemetery site" was found in the northwest corner of the Hospital's property, where Vermont Street connects with Tibbs Avenue. Also, patients' remains were buried along the western edge along Tibbs Avenue and near the old Pathology building as well.

As of 2003, the city of Indianapolis has bought the 146 acre property with plans for a cultural center, a park and to develop some of the land for to bring in taxes, promising to be careful if they have to move unmarked graves. Uh oh! They need to be careful and not build on top of someone's grave or they may create a haunting!

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Aerial view of Central State Hospital circa 1921.

HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:

In the early years of the hospital, 1848-1894, the treatment of mental illness was in its infancy. Many of the drugs used today to help patients control their symptoms weren't invented yet. So it isn't surprising that the use of restraint was heavily relied on for patients prone to violence. However, the conditions where the most difficult patients, like the violent, criminally insane, were held in basements of buildings or dark rooms off the vast tunnels which connect various buildings with chains and shackles on the walls. The patients were in dark, inhuman conditions, and "retraining practices" were deemed to be barbaric. The worst inmates who never stopped screaming and /or attacked staff or other patients were warehoused there in the early years of the Hospital.

After public awareness of these horrid abuses, sweeping reforms were made in 1894, which started the long history of improving care which involved actually treating patients instead of warehousing them. The use of restraints was curtailed. Vocational rehabilitation and social activities were planned. The Hospital made an effort to be on the cutting edge of treatment until the place closed.

1) The Old Power House Basement - Maintenance workers have to go down to the basement and shovel out the ashes twice a night.

a) A screaming of a woman was heard coming from a corner of the basement.

b) Shadows of entities were seen moving from cement post to post.

c) An employee on a break took a nap in a room in the basement, near the pumping station. He awoke as he was being choked by unseen hands by a menacing presence. He broke the grasp and ran to the light switch and no one was there. There were deep red marks around his neck where he was choked.

d) The coal conveyor belt which brought coal to the Boiler, turned itself on and off.

2) In the Pathology Building - bodies of deceased patients were examined closely to learn more about mental illness.

a) Noises coming from the basement have been heard by the living when no one was there.

3) Administration Building - Some entity is going about his or her business in running the hospital.

a) Foot steps were heard coming across the lobby to the window in front of the main desk and went back again.

4) Tunnels or catacombs which connect the buildings.

a) A patient, Al who lived on a non-secure wing, went missing. Neither the police or hospital workers found him anywhere on or off grounds. It was assumed that he had made a successful break. Imagine the surprise of a nurse when she figured out that a female patient was going down the steps to the tunnel to talk to an entity named Al, whose body was found soon after realizing what had happened.

b) Another hospital worker heard moans coming from a dirt-floor room off a tunnel, which had chains and hand restraints in the walls.

5) Dormitories

a) Maintenance workers have heard the cries and screams coming from the dorms, similar to what was heard here when patients stayed here. Mental illness is painful and scary to the people living with it.

b) On the second floor of a woman's dorm an entity dressed in a bathrobe has been seen running down the hall, from the outside and the inside.

6) A few patients managed to slip away from their caretakers sometimes harming another or themselves.

a) Under a grove of trees, a violent patient killed another patient. The living can hear the cries and groans of this victim coming from this area.

b) Entities dressed in robes have been seen running across the grass in their bid to escape.

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STILL HAUNTED?

While the State Park officials had long denied it, people who worked there in the past and the present have witnessed manifestations. Paranormal Investigators from IPI took photos of orbs in the Power House.

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Sources include:

Indiana Insane Asylums page on Darkland.i8.com
Central State Hospital page on PrairieGhosts.com * Central State Hospital page on Indiana.gov
Central State Hospital page on IndianaParanormal.com

Web-Sites: Central State Hospital page on RootsWeb * Central State Hospital Indiana pages on AOL * Indiana Medical History Museum