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Indiana Central State Hospital –
State Hospital Buildings & Museum - 2005
It is found on the West side of Indianapolis,
around the streets of Tibbs Avenue, Washington Street, Warman Avenue, and
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
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
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
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
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 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 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!
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) The 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
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
4) Tunnels or catacombs which connect
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.
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 others 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.
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.
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