The Ridges

Formerly The Athens Lunatic Asylum

Many mental institutions in the United States are said to be haunted and thus The Ridges from Athens, Ohio, is no exception to that. If you have ever watched a horror movie, you must have observed that these types of buildings are presented as hulking structures with lots of cobwebs and ghosts that are waiting and haunting at each corner. The abandoned buildings are even worse when it comes to haunting rumors. The Ridges from Athens, Ohio is one of the abandoned places that are said to be powerfully haunted.

The Mental Medical Centre opened here on January 9th 1874 and it specialized in the treatment of criminally and mentally insane patients. It was then known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum. It took over six years to be built and many people thought that a nice quiet place would be a benefit for the health of the insane patients. The majority of the original patients were admitted there by court order or even by their own families. Sometimes these kinds of mental institutions paid an amount of money for every patient they registered when they were lacking them so many families entrusted them with their disturbed family members.

Everyone knew that, despite the large number of disturbed individuals residing there, The Ridges was a calm peaceful place, where patients benefited from fountains and picnics on the beautiful grounds. But this idyllic scenery would not to last a long time. The Ridges soon turned into an overcrowded institution that was treating its patients in a cruel way. Ice water baths, electroshock therapies and lobotomies become regular practices. The kinds of patients submitted to treatment also changed, because children turned their older parents over to the asylum and teenagers that were considered rebellious were brought here by their parents as well.

Several other strange things have happened at The Ridges, besides the cruel treatment applied to the patients. On the 1st of December 1978, a patient named Margaret Schilling mysteriously disappeared. The legend says she was playing hide and seek with the nurses, who got distracted and forgot to look for her. Over more than a month, on the 12th of January 1979 her body was found by a maintenance worker.

Her death was not as mysterious as the marks her body left on the floor. An imprint of her clothes and hair are perfectly visible on the floor. Some said that her body decomposed and the outline was formed because of the reaction of the corpse to the sunlight. This is not a very good explanation, though, because the stain is still there and reappears even after been cleaned up. Margaret Schilling is not the only former patient that is said to be still haunting The Ridges.

The Asylum has a cemetery where those who died were buried and there are rumors it is haunted as well. Because many of the patients were admitted at The Ridges by the court system, they had no remaining family and no persons to pay the funeral expenses. They were thus anonymously buried in simple graves with a number attached. At one area the linear shapes of the graves form a circle, which is said to be a witches’ meeting point.

58 Responses to The Ridges

  • jim leopardo says:

    Hi, I just wanted to know if overnight investigationd are allowed on the property and if so how much are they? thanks, Jim

    • xnode says:


      This can be found @…. “Please note that the only former state hospital building open to the public is the Kennedy Museum. Photos of the asylum are often on view here. No tours or other access is offered to the public.”

    • Stacy says:

      Ohio University has never allowed overnight investigations. Several well know paranormal investigation groups have tried and been denied.

  • Dobby Everts says:

    I agree, is there a fee of sorts of a team of investigators to have an over night investigation?

    • xnode says:


      This can be found @…. “Please note that the only former state hospital building open to the public is the Kennedy Museum. Photos of the asylum are often on view here. No tours or other access is offered to the public.”

  • Leah ferguson says:

    Ive been wanting to explore this place for a while now does anyone know the exact address?

    • xnode says:

      Leah, you can find it here…. To The Ridges: From US 33, take the SR 682/Ohio University Exit. Turn left onto Richland Avenue. Take the first right onto Dairy Barn Lane, then turn right into The Ridges.

  • Tom Mullins says:

    Once performed a concert in this facility with the Community Band. Was an eerie experience.

  • xnode says:

    I’d have to agree that eeire is a great way to describe the feeling when on the grounds at The Ridges. Every time that I’ve been there it feels like I’m being watched from the windows in all of the buildings.

    • malachi hart says:

      don’t have it anymore but my xstep mom had someone take a photo of her standing in front of the ridges there was a ghost in the window behind her yeah fun

  • KZerkle says:

    I did my psych rotation at the Athens Hospital The Ridges…we were the last class there before they closed it completely and moved to the new facility across the river. It was very interesting and we got to take a tour of the closed parts of the buidings. I got to see the body outline on the floor. Very interesting place to say the least.

  • Kenny Tessel says:

    we did Romeo and Juliet with the school of theatre there in 1978,, when it was still in use, we got to explore it at night, got caught by security trying to get into this chained up building at the top….did you also know that Billy Milligan was treated up there…. go read ” The Minds of Billy Milligan” by Daniel Keyes I believe.. he was teaching there at the time

    • Sam says:

      My dad used to work there and he told me stories of Billy Milligan, one of the patients on his rounds. He said he was a very likable guy and fascinating to talk to, but he suffered from multiple personality disorder, and you never knew which personality you would get and some of them were not very nice and he could be dangerous at times.

  • heather says:

    my grandmother worked here and she now nearing 90 yrs old. She has told me stories of things that went on at the ridges and told me there was always an odd feeling to the place. many patients died there due to treatments gone wrong! She worked the electroshock therapy section and said that screams were heard all through the night. Weather they were screams of the patients or from those beyond the grave she couldn’t say. I grew up in Athens Ohio and use to try to seek into the property of the Ridges every Halloween as many locals do. LOL we always got scared and left before seeing or hearing much.

    • William says:

      Hi,my name is Mike miller,my Grandfather was a patient there and went through the shock treatments. He cummited sluiced there. If u could please give me a call at #740-703-1533 thanks. My email is messed up rite now.

  • Joseph Beck says:

    are there any halloween haunts in the area and can you visit the asylum or the ridges at night around october. looking for halloween scary things to do and see in Athens any info would be appreciated

    • xnode says:

      This can be found @…. “Please note that the only former state hospital building open to the public is the Kennedy Museum. Photos of the asylum are often on view here. No tours or other access is offered to the public.”

  • Urban Explorer says:

    I’ve been all over that building. You do not need authority to do so, the facility is huge and the chances of getting caught are almost zero. I have personally taken over 20 groups up and through the facility with no problem.

    Growing up in Athens, as a rite of passage, one has to at least have explored the entire place at night by the age of 18. If you are in College, take time in the evening to check the place out. OUPD is understaffed and more so, they are not going to file serious charges against their own students. Trust me, they want your money. It isn’t in their interest to expel you over something so little. If caught, you’d merely get a slap on the wrist; Play dumb, bring a leash, say you are looking for your dog.

    A particular interest of mine, (more than the stain) is a Mozaic Swastika on the floor, in one of the larger rooms. Also, there is a network of underground tunnels connecting the old buildings at OU; some even at the ridges. Do yourself a favour, buy a respirator and go have some fun.

    • Nomad33 says:

      I’d really be interested in seeing the place, but I have no idea how to get inside. I stopped by today, and I didn’t see an entrance that wasn’t boarded up. When do people hang out there, and what’s the best way to get in? Also what’s the best way to avoid the OUPD? They were hanging out there this afternoon.

      I’d appreciate any advice – thanks!

      • David sheets says:

        Don’t attempt to avoid them because they patrol that place 24/7. They are ass holes to. I was arrested for being there one earley morning they tried to say I was a theif and was steeling. Go during the day not at night

    • David sheets says:

      Believe me Athens pd has a abundant amount of officers and they will press charges. I went there at 3 am as a result of a overheating car and was approached by a Athens pd officer and was told I was steeling. I was took to jail and received a ticket for driving under suspention. They are ass holes.

  • Athens county prince says:

    been in there through most of the old buildings myself. spent most of the night there.

  • Local yocal says:

    There are offices in there now so I don’t recommend breaking in……and last I heard they stopped doing the tours on Halloween:( I’ve been there and to all the cemeteries numerous times and didn’t see anything

  • xnode says:

    What a sad day when they tore down the tuberculosis ward. That truly saddens a lot of people and it’s a shame that it happened. You’d think having a couple rent a cops patrol there a little more frequently would have been a better solution then to tear down such a historical building that had so much presence and history in the area.

    • Tamrisa says:

      Why did they tear it down? I just found out about this site today and am so curious. If i was able to do all the walking i would so love to sneak around and see what i might find. lol Too bad someone wouldn’t buy this old place and turn it into apartments. Tamrisa

  • interested says:

    Is the insane asylum still standing or is that what they tore down??

  • xnode says:

    RIP TB Ward…..

    • Brooke says:

      Do you know of anything still open I can walk thru the cemetary or anything? I will be visiting there soon and would like to explore I love paranormal…. Thank you!!

  • Barry bush says:

    Is it illegal to go in there at night? And are the doors locked?

  • Barry bush says:

    Are the doors unlocked? And is it illegal to go in there? Also, has anyone experienced any paranormal things while at the ridges?

  • chris says:

    Good pictures i heard à lot of horror stories avoir that place glad psyc medicine has advanced!

  • PJRogers says:

    Was in Athens in 1999 with husband checking out campus/ college for oldest son and stopped to
    eat at restaurant down below front of building. As we left to go to car,we decided to walk closer to building,so strolled around it, As we approached,thought we saw disheveled, middle aged woman in window on second floor looking out. Did not find out until much later,what the building was,and it’s history. Had eerie feel to it.

  • Brent says:

    Thanks for posting my YouTube video. That was from my visit to the TB Ward in 2008. There is absolutely nothing left of the building unfortunately. Everything else is still standing. They even have a cafe in the main lobby now. I am so glad that I was able to get into the main buildings back in 2002-03 as well. Very cool inside.

    • xnode says:

      Thank you for documenting your experience in the building and sharing it with everyone. It gives others who never had the opportunity to visit the TB Ward a glimpse back into a piece of history that’s now forever gone.

      • brian osborn says:

        hi my name is brian Osborn I had a great grandmother that was a patient way back when lol….. and I was wondering if I could get some information on this place please and also I took a trip to the asylum with my mother and I walked up a flight of stairs on the out side of the building and looked in when I seen one of the wheel chairs move and also heard some noises come from inside of the building so if you can I would like to talk to you and see If I can get some of the history on the place it has a lot of meaning to me and my family because of my great grandmother being in there thank you for your time……..

  • Mouse says:

    There are a lot of stories associated with the Ridges. The main buildings are now used for offices and the like (including the SBA). But the biggest building, the Main building itself is now an art museum with a cafe. My friend and I decided to have a looksie through the art museum. While it was a neat cultural experience, we didn’t stay long. The further towards the back of the building we got, the harder it was to breath.There was just a really intense pressure on your chest. As soon as we left, the feeling lifted.

    I was saddened that they razed the TB ward. There was a petition prior to save it, but I think we only had a couple hundred names on it.

  • Marie says:

    This place sounds really interesting I been there a few times and even help build a part of the ridges… Can anyone post pictures u have of it if u caught anything and it truly sucks u can’t walk through it.. I want to so bad.. Does anyone know where I can find the death records for the place??? Thanks a lot and I love reading what u guys have commented..:)

  • TE Myrda says:

    I remember reading in a Haunted Ohio book, a few years ago, that the Ridges Insane Asylum was built on an old Indian Orphanage. As I recall, the children had been horribly abused and there were many unexplained deaths in the orphanage. The home was closed & torn down.
    Does anyone remember this story ? Any truth to it ? Or am I remembering a different Ohio institution ?

  • Lash says:

    I have been inside the main building. (The one no one is supposed to be in) It was very cool to see the history in it. The patient rooms were so small and all the paint was peeling away. I took some pictures and on one of the videos I spotted a weird light but I am not a believer in the supernatural. I love history and I got to see the oldest wing of the facility (I did it legally too). I happened upon the chance to see the facility while doing some work on campus.

  • Brandan says:

    i found a video on youtube that someone posted that you can actually hear some spirits talking ill have to find it again if i remember correctly it should be in my liked video or playlist folder.

  • Brandan says:

    ill post it on later if anyone wants to watch it

  • Brandan says:

    Found the video I know it does not have the best quality at the end of the video you can hear some spirits talking.

  • Kylie says:

    My great grandmother was a nurse here when the women went missing and her body found. Yes the story is true! Now wether she haunts it or not is up to you if you believe or not!

  • Manion says:

    I read that the TB ward was torn down because it was full of asbestos and it was just not economically viable to restore or use.

  • BREANNA says:

    Does anyone know how old Margaret Schilling was when she was admitted to Athens very important homework….? please anyone…

  • crystal says:

    can any of this be bought and the plans for the original buildings that were torn down i really want to live in this place

  • David sheets says:

    Many people were tortured and died there but I think all the story’s are maid up. I found a verry old video of the place and a man who worked there said all the story’s were bogus. The outline on floor is there tho. I see many people wanna sneek in and go at night I strongly suggest u not because oupd and Athens pd will arrest u for trhsspassing. I’ve been there n done that. They will lie or do whatever they gotta do to file charges if ur caught. I was steeling is what they said when I was seen there broke down at 3am. Even tho I had no property in my car I was a theif. Lol. Police these days are rediculous

  • Curious one says:

    I’m writing a paper on the history of The Ridges. I found a lot of neat information from numerous websites however i need more! If anyone could give me some background info or even share some experiences you or a friend has had or a story you’ve been told that would be awesome! Thank you!

  • Susan says:

    I Lived on Dairy Lane for a short period in the early seventies. The dog almost had a nervous breakdown and wouldn’t behave and whined constantly. I never connected it to the hospital.

  • lee says:

    so i kno thast going into the buildings is illegal and you will be aressted but how strick are officers about the trails paths and roads?

  • Shawna says:

    I know it’s illegal to go in but my husband and I are willing to take a chance, does anyone know the best place to get in?

    • Ryan says:

      You really just have to look around. I am a student at OU and I’ve been in a couple of times. You may have to walk around a few times to find it. In the back of it by garages/loading docks theres a door hidden by trees and bushes against the back right. The door is open there and you can get to any level through that door, including the basement. Good luck and don’t get lost! 😉

  • tammy says:

    is anyone allowed to explore the cemetery i am very interested in this

  • Donald says:

    my son recently took a series of pictures in this place. One of the pictures shows a dark figure in the hallway on the first floor. It is really creepy and I think is one of the better “ghost” pics out there. I will attempt to post it on this site.

  • Jordan says:

    When is the best time to try to get into here to explore? Obviously with the least amount of risk of running into the cops.

    • Mooch says:

      I conducted my psychology rotation from 1987 to 1990 at The Ridges/Athens Mental Hospital. I remember taking the stairs down to, and walking the long tunnel area in the basement (each time I visited the site), that connected the main building with the hospital ward. In the basement, I’ll never forget walking past a series of concrete cells, with metal bars and fixed metal rings to chain someone or something to. The hospital/OU psych staff, and all of the patients that I built a rapport with, were all first rate individuals.

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