Today is World TB Day, commemorating the day that Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis in 1882. We don”t think much about tuberculosis today, as most people in developed nations are inoculated against it. However, about a century ago, the disease was a major threat, and it”s still a health concern today in developing areas of the world.
Naturally, we”re here to celebrate in the way we know best: with a spooky look at one of the most haunted places in the country related to the infectious disease. Let us journey (metaphorically) to The Ridges in Athens, Ohio.
The Ridges is now part of Ohio University. It houses an art museum, auditorium, and classrooms.
There is one section that hasn”t been renovated, though: the tuberculosis ward.
This is the TB ward, which overlooks one of several cemeteries on the grounds. The cemeteries are also said to be haunted, with one of them rumored to be a meeting place for occult practitioners.
One of the cemeteries, with the TB ward in the background. Many of the stones have no names, only numbers. A large number of Civil War veterans have been discovered to be buried here, most likely having suffered from PTSD.
The Ridges started out as a psychiatric hospital in 1874. Initially, it was actually revolutionary in mental health treatment, with patients treated like actual human beings. The patients lived in a house-like setting, which the founders believed to be more therapeutic. It worked, as patients showed signs of improvement.
This turned out to be the location”s downfall. More and more people were admitted to the hospital, often for matters of convenience by their families rather than legitimate mental health issues. This led to overcrowding, which led to The Ridges becoming notorious for inhumane conditions and abuses of patients by the staff.
Today, the TB ward is said to be home to several restless spirits of mistreated patients.
It”s located far away from the other buildings on the grounds, since TB was a highly contagious disease. The second floor is full of small rooms where TB patients were kept in isolation. If you”re wondering why someone suffering from tuberculosis was put in a psychiatric hospital, it”s because it was easier to just lock them up. Other patients would be admitted for things like menopause, epilepsy, and being a snotty teenager.
The TB ward is still in a state of disrepair. It”s locked up, but people still manage to get in to take pictures and hunt for ghosts. There are tuberculosis hospitals across the U.S., harkening back to the days when the disease was so rampant it required specialized hospitals. Renovations have not been completed because the whole building is lined with asbestos, which did not help those with respiratory issues.
After it was a TB ward, the building housed a nursery school. Talk about creepy.
One of the better-known legends of The Ridges is that of Margaret Schilling, a (non-tuberculosis) patient whose body was found in early 1979. Allegedly, she”d been playing hide-and-seek a year prior with some nurses who got distracted and forgot to look for her. Her body is said to have left a perfect impression (clothes, hair, and all) on the floor that is still visible today.
Some old pianos still remain in the building.
(via Haunted Athens Ohio, Forgotten OH, Wikipedia)
The Ridges officially closed down in 1993. It was still used as a psychiatric hospital up until that time, though its tuberculosis ward had long been abandoned by then. Today, it still sits boarded up and dark, housing secrets.
People still contract tuberculosis today; however, thanks to medical advancements, fatality is usually only a possibility in the very young and very old, but it”s still a serious infection. In honor of World TB Day, you can see how research is being done in the hopes of eradicating the disease worldwide by checking out the CDC website.