This New York Hospital is One of the Creepiest Places in the State.

New York State is home to many haunted and abandoned places, but few are as eerie and mysterious as the former Utica State Hospital. This hospital, which opened in 1843 as the first state-run facility for treating the mentally ill, was once considered state-of-the-art and progressive. However, behind its impressive facade, the hospital was a place of suffering, neglect, and abuse for thousands of patients who were often subjected to harsh and experimental treatments.

The History of Utica State Hospital

The Utica State Hospital was founded by Dr. Amariah Brigham, a pioneer in the field of psychiatry and the first president of the American Psychiatric Association. He envisioned a humane and scientific approach to mental health care, based on the principles of moral treatment and occupational therapy. He designed the hospital’s main building, known as the Old Main, in a Greek Revival style, with a central dome and two wings. The building could accommodate up to 500 patients, who were divided by gender and severity of illness.

Brigham also established the Utica Crib, a wooden box with a mattress and a lid that locked from the outside. He claimed that this device was a therapeutic tool that calmed agitated patients and prevented them from harming themselves or others. However, many critics denounced the crib as a cruel and inhumane form of restraint that caused physical and psychological harm to the patients.

The hospital expanded over the years, adding more buildings and services, such as a farm, a chapel, a library, and a museum. The hospital also became a center of research and education, publishing the American Journal of Insanity, the first psychiatric journal in the United States, and training many doctors and nurses. However, as the number of patients increased, the quality of care declined. The hospital became overcrowded, understaffed, and underfunded, leading to poor hygiene, malnutrition, and disease outbreaks. Many patients were isolated, neglected, or abused by the staff or other patients.

The hospital also adopted more invasive and controversial treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy, insulin coma therapy, lobotomy, and psychosurgery. These procedures were often performed without the consent or knowledge of the patients or their families, and sometimes resulted in death or permanent damage. Some of the most notorious doctors who worked at the hospital were Dr. Walter Freeman, the father of the lobotomy, and Dr. James Watts, his partner and later critic.

The Decline and Closure of Utica State Hospital

The Utica State Hospital reached its peak population in the 1950s, with over 3,000 patients. However, the advent of new drugs and therapies, as well as the deinstitutionalization movement, led to a gradual decrease in the number of patients and staff. The hospital also faced legal challenges and public scrutiny, as more reports of abuse, neglect, and malpractice emerged. The hospital was sued by several former patients and their families, who claimed that they had been subjected to unnecessary and harmful treatments, such as lobotomies, without their consent.

The hospital began to close some of its buildings and wards, and transferred many of its patients to other facilities or community programs. The Old Main, which had been designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, was vacated in 1993. The hospital officially closed in 1998, after 155 years of operation. The remaining patients and staff were relocated to the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center, a modern facility that replaced the old hospital.

The Haunting of Utica State Hospital

The Utica State Hospital, which is now owned by the state of New York, has been mostly abandoned and left to decay. The buildings are boarded up, fenced off, and guarded by security. However, some urban explorers, ghost hunters, and curious visitors have managed to sneak into the hospital grounds and explore the dark and dilapidated halls. Many of them have reported seeing, hearing, and feeling strange and paranormal phenomena, such as:

  • Apparitions of patients and staff, some of them mutilated or disfigured, wandering the corridors or staring from the windows.
  • Voices, screams, moans, and laughter, coming from empty rooms or echoing through the walls.
  • Cold spots, drafts, and temperature fluctuations, especially in the basement and the operating rooms.
  • Unexplained noises, such as footsteps, doors slamming, metal clanging, and machinery running.
  • Objects moving, falling, or disappearing, such as furniture, tools, medical equipment, and personal belongings.
  • Physical sensations, such as being touched, grabbed, pushed, or scratched by unseen hands.
  • Emotional reactions, such as feeling anxious, depressed, angry, or terrified, or experiencing flashbacks or visions of the past.

Some of the most haunted areas of the hospital are the Old Main, the Utica Crib Room, the Lobotomy Ward, the Morgue, and the Cemetery. The hospital is also said to be haunted by the spirits of Dr. Brigham, Dr. Freeman, and Dr. Watts, who are either trying to atone for their sins or continue their experiments.

The Conclusion

The Utica State Hospital is one of the creepiest places in New York State, not only because of its eerie appearance and history, but also because of the stories and experiences of those who have visited it. The hospital is a testament to the dark and tragic side of mental health care, and a reminder of the suffering and injustice that many patients endured.

The hospital is also a source of fascination and curiosity, as well as a challenge and a thrill, for those who dare to enter its haunted halls. However, the hospital is not a place for the faint of heart, or for the disrespectful or the reckless. The hospital is a place of respect and caution, for those who seek to understand and honor its past, and for those who hope to learn from its mistakes.

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