Athens Lunatic Asylum. Southeastern Ohio Mental Health Center. Athens Mental Health Center. The place of many transitional names and many secrets, The Ridges, is a monument that has a rich history in Athens, Ohio.
Prior to its beginning on Jan. 9, 1874, the Athens Lunatic Asylum was a mental hospital that provided help to violent criminals who suffered from mental disabilities, and mentally disabled children, as well as Civil War veterans. The hospital originally housed around 200 patients, provided church services and plays and allowed for the more sedated patients to participate in recreational activities like boating, painting and tending to the farms and orchards. Built by the same Cincinnatian who built historical monuments such as Spring Grove Cemetery and the Oval Office of Ohio State, the designs of The Ridges were influenced by a 19th century physician who authored an influential treatise on hospital design, Thomas Story Kirkbride.
Now, The Ridges stands as classrooms and office buildings, the meeting place for the Ohio chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illnes,s as well as the grounds for both the Dairy Barn Southeastern Ohio Cultural Arts Center and The George V. Voinovich School on Leadership and Public Affairs. Most importantly, The Ridges is known for being one of the most haunted and scary places in Athens, which could be partially due to the graveyards on the land as well as the dozens of crows that fly over it in a circle.
While tours are sometimes given by experts of the facility, many students have taken it upon themselves to visit during the nighttime- and usually regret it when they do. Not only is trespassing on the grounds after hours illegal, you won’t even care about the legality because the ghosts will cover the cops’ job for them and get you out of there quickly.
All in all, The Ridges is a historical Southeastern Ohio memorial that will always be an important part of the Appalachian community. And while I am not telling you to do anything illegal, if you ever want a nice fright, I think you may know the place to go.