Athens is home to many ghost stories and spooky attractions, but just about an hour drive northwest is one of the scariest buildings in Southeast Ohio: the Fairfield County Infirmary.
The Fairfield County Infirmary had patients for over 170 years — and some of those patients still linger.
From a ghost named Willy, who haunts the second and third floors, and a little girl named Susie, who is lonely and looking for a playmate in the terrifying morgue, the Fairfield County Infirmary has plenty of spooky attractions to explore. It was this that inspired the staff to begin hosting ghost hunts in the old brick building.
Adam Kimmell, owner of the infirmary, took over in February 2020 after filming a ghost hunting video there for his YouTube series in 2018 and garnering interest for the location. Kimmell and his team have one other location in Madison — Madison Seminary — but were immediately interested in Fairfield Infirmary.
“I dropped out of college and started to begin pursuing filmmaking and documenting the paranormal,” Kimmell said. “I started back in 2010 doing that, and now 10 years later, I fell in love with all of this.”
Ady Gaddis, manager of the building, said the buildings were acquired not as a total renovation, but as more of a time capsule of what the building once was. There are some small renovations but mostly just purchasing furniture that go with the infirmary’s look.
After Gaddis and Kimmel acquired the building and renovated it, they partnered with third party company Ghost Hunts USA to hold paranormal investigations for groups of people at the infirmary. This was their second partnership with Ghost Hunts USA after conducting some investigations at the Madison Seminary.
“You have so many different areas, and the history is there, too,” Pam Crisci, a paranormal investigator and psychic medium for Ghost Hunts USA, said about the infirmary. “So we show you how to use the different equipment, and we show you how to investigate so you’re not going in blind.”
For the first half of the investigation, people break into small groups, and then the investigators take each group to an area of the building and teach them about the equipment. People use different equipment in each area. The investigation could take someone up to the attic to use a spirit box or down to the morgue to use “trigger objects,” such as REM pods, which detect disturbances and changes in the area, or electromagnetic field, or EMF, detectors.
Once the groups learn how to use the equipment, they’re able to explore the building on their own and take the equipment throughout to see what spirits or paranormal activity they can find.
Gaddis and Kimmell are grateful for Ghost Hunts USA because they’re helping the new infirmary owners get through the first year, especially during the pandemic, when Gaddis and Kimmell have worked hard to implement safety precautions like cutting the size of the groups allowed, requiring masks, setting up sanitizing stations and deep cleaning the bathrooms and main areas in between tours.
The infirmary staff also hosts their own paranormal investigations, so when their partnership with Ghost Hunts USA finishes, they will continue. Ghost Hunts USA is hosting investigations at the infirmary through November for $129 per person, from 8:30 p.m. to 4 a.m.
The entire hunt includes group vigils, lone vigils, exclusive access to the most haunted areas, use of their equipment, free time to explore throughout the location and unlimited refreshments, including coffee, bottled water and soda.
For those who are still unconvinced, Gaddis tells them of her own experiences at the infirmary while working to restore it. She’s seen a little girl with a blue dress and long blond hair in the middle of the day as well as more ominous figures. However, when she hears people walking around the infirmary, she just hopes that no one has broken in.
“I’m always afraid that it’s a living person and someone had broken in, so as I’m going up the stairs, I’m whispering to myself, ‘Please be dead,’” Gaddis said. “I’m more scared of the living than I am of the dead.”
More than anything, Gaddis encourages people to come and experience the rich history of the building and learn about the people who lived there.
“We have newspaper articles and stuff that you can read that tells actual names of people that were here,” Gaddis said. “When you come in, you're trying to communicate with them. You can learn their story. Like a lot of these people and places like this county home and stuff, a lot of the people were forgotten. They were just dropped off, and now they won't be forgotten in death, and now their story can continue on.”