It’s no secret that Ohio University is known for its famous Halloween block party every year. With large crowds of students and visitors gathering for the spooky holiday, it’s safe to say that the light-hearted Halloween celebrations have become a part of Athens history. However, there is a more sinister secret to OU’s campus.
Just beyond the Hocking River that surrounds campus, an eerie building sits atop a high hill, renamed as “The Ridges” in 1984. More than a century prior, the building was known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, a place where Civil War soldiers with PTSD, violent criminals, women with “hysteria” and other patients with mental illness were placed. These patients often were given unethical treatment, such as forced labor, electroshock, hydrotherapy, hysterectomies, psychotropic drugs and lobotomies.
Most of these patients never left the Athens Asylum once admitted and were buried in one of the property's three graveyards in unmarked or numbered graves. One of these patients, Margaret Schilling, was found dead after six weeks in an abandoned section of the hospital. Her body left a permanent mark on the floor that remains there today.
The hospital was shut down in 1993, purchased by Ohio University and was declared “haunted” by Legends of America after its closing due to the horrible deaths that occurred within the building. People over the years have reported seeing the ghost of patients in the windows of the building, seeing strange lights and hearing disembodied voices/screams and other unidentifiable sounds.
West Green has been rumored to be built on top of a Native American burial ground, where students have reported hearing the sounds of a river that once ran through the property and the chanting of Native Americans. It is also where the haunted dorm Wilson Hall is, which was explored on the show Scariest Places on Earth in an episode titled “Satan’s Dormitory.”
In the 1970s, in room 428, a woman resident was said to have been practicing witchcraft and astral projection and mysteriously died in her room soon thereafter. Students who received this room after her death reported severe paranormal activity, which resulted in the permanent closure of the room.
Today, residents of Wilson Hall still report seeing objects fly across rooms, doors slamming shut, lights flickering, disembodied voices and footsteps. Former third-floor resident Stephanie Jakubec, a junior studying journalism, said just weeks after moving in, unexplained events started to occur.
“I was relaxing in my room with my roommate, and our only two mirrors flew off the wall,” Jakubec said. “The first one came out into the middle of the room and, seconds later, the other landed directly in front of me. Each of them shattered.”
A week later, she laid a math book flat on her dresser, and it flew at her and landed at her feet. A string of lights “that had no batteries in them yet, turned on and started going through the preprogrammed cycle.” She also mentioned seeing a girl with brunette hair passing by her door, but when she went to look, no one was there.
“I’d only have missed her if she was running, and she wasn’t,” Jakubec said.
Even if this isn’t enough to prove OU is haunted, there are more legends that surround the various buildings on campus. These legends range from sightings of the ghosts of students who had died in The Convo to the sounds of bouncing basketballs and footsteps coming from Washington Hall, where students believe a girls' basketball team haunts the building after being killed in a bus accident.
Outside the campus, there are plenty of allegedly haunted areas that surround Athens, such as Strouds Run, nearby cemeteries, Moonville Tunnel and urban legends of creatures that live in the Appalachian region. Many past and current students enjoy sharing their own personal paranormal encounters at OU. Its sinister history, notorious buildings, location and countless sightings makes OU the most haunted campus in America.
Katie Trott is a junior studying creative writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Katie by emailing her at email@example.com.