Personal Encounters: The Night I Visited the Athens Lunatic Asylum

Personal Encounters is a column where people share their real-life encounters and experiences with paranormal, unknown, unexplained, or strange phenomena.

I once lived in Ohio. The End.

I kid, I kid. I mean, it was scary living out in the middle of Wooster, Ohio, where the KKK lived nearby and hated my guts because I was a pierced punker who had bright yellow hair (I did have hair once!) and told them off whenever I could.

But that's not the scary story.

No, the scary story is one that I was going to tell a group of friends for the first time recently at a Halloween party extravaganza, but due to having a good time and lots of drinking, it never came to be.

So I'm writing it out for all of you. You will believe me or you won't, that's fine. But what I tell you right now is all true, no matter how crazy it sounds.

When I lived in Ohio, I was bored all the time. I had a girlfriend who I moved out there from NYC because I was, you know, in love. (again, that's not the scary part) So we would always try to find stuff to do because sitting around and listening to crickets sing all night gets on a city boy's nerves really quick.

We heard from one of her friends that there was an abandoned asylum called The Ridges in Athens, Ohio and she had a photography class in college and I loved to take pictures so we decided to go out to this asylum.

We got to the grounds around 6 at night, it was already getting dark. A few friends were supposed to meet us there but they said they got lost but I think they were just scared and didn't want to come and experience what I was going to go through that night. But how would they know what was to come?

We drive around and on the grounds there were multiple buildings. There was one that the lights were on and we didn't know why that was. While driving around, we saw one building that looked creepy enough so we park the car and walk around to survey the large building. About 10 floors high, windows were broken and blackened for the most part from what we could see.

All of a sudden a car pulls up to us. It was a security guard, doing his hourly rounds. He gets out, huge mustache hiding his upper lip and he comes over to us, brandishing a flashlight.

"Hey kiddos, what are you doing here?"

"We're taking pictures for my class, officer," my ex says to the guy.

"Oh wow, really? Do you know any of the backstory to this place?"

"Actually, we don't at all. We just heard it was an abandoned asylum and thought that would make for a great series of photos," I say.

"Oh, but you need to know the story of this place. This was once called the Athens Lunatic Asylum, which isn't a really nice name at all. See that building over there?" He points to the one that was lit up. "All the remaining patients have been moved there, the ones who hadn't died or discharged had to be moved there because Ohio State University acquired this land for their farm schooling."

He walks around and looks up in the sky, then at the building in front of us.

"This was a bad building right here. This is where they did some really awful dental experiments for the insane. Some of the lobotomies were done here as well. And there was one part of the building that housed children with huge heads. I think it's called macrocephaly. It's sad because their parents would just get rid of them and there were these rooms that would have 3 kids in cribs, stacked high, because nobody wanted them. They weren't crazy, but just had this condition."

"Wow. Sir, that's so wild," says my ex.

"Wild? You don't even know half of it. This place is just a bad place. You seem like nice kids so I'm not going to tell you to leave. You can take photos but try to leave in the next hour. Deal?"

"Deal!" We both say in unison.

He smiles and gets back in his car and drives off. Let the pictures commence. Of course while we were walking around, I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be cool to take photos inside the building?" So I tell this to her. She protests at first, but I insist that the pictures might be amazing. And that I wouldn't back down. So off I go, with my camera in tow and push my way in the padlocked door, where a section of the door was torn off.

While I was walking down the super quiet hallways, there was a cold breeze blasting through there. The funny thing was, it wasn't cold out at all. It was actually pretty calm on the outside, but once inside it felt like I was in a fridge. As I walked around,on the first floor, I saw the dental office area he spoke about, machines still there and take some pictures. I then hear something, light whispering it sounds like, right behind me. I turn around expecting my ex, but nobody was there. Then I hear it behind me again, in the direction I was walking. Nothing again.

I then walk about 5 steps when all of a sudden I feel as if two huge fists punch me at the same time in the chest, pushing me back about 10 feet, to the floor. I shake it off, look around, thinking I must have missed something. But what could I have missed. I was looking right ahead of me and there was nobody around. Just two phantom fists, which just sounds insane. I grab at my chest, which feels on fire now, but decided to keep on going. Because I was young and foolish.

Finding a stairway, I start to go up to the next floor and the whispering is louder now. Creeped out, I keep going, taking pictures quicker now, because I just had this bad feeling but wanted to have a lot of proof that I was in there. While walking around, there was stuff strewn all around. Toys on the floor. Papers, the breeze blowing them around me. a stuffed animal, an alligator to be precise, just stood at the edge of a doorway. I was waiting for it to move or jump at me, but nothing. I walk into that room and see the cribs the officer spoke about. Three cribs high, stacked and nailed to one another. Taking pictures, I could have swore every time the flash went off, I heard crying. But when the picture was done, there was silence. Only the wind was around.

As I kept going up stairs, I saw many creepy rooms. Just empty, with one or two pieces of machinery still standing. Or a desk that was sitting right in the middle of the room. No chairs, just desks. In one room, there was two desks on top of one another, and I heard a phone ringing. This was in the year 2000, and I had no cell phone and neither did my ex, and the ringing was getting louder and louder the closer I got to the desks. I stopped and the ringing stopped. I moved again, and it started all over. An old rotary phone was in the corner, shattered against the wall and not plugged in, so I still don't know where that sound was coming from.
As I kept climbing to the top of the building, I walked down one area where part of the floor was gone and you had to grab onto the wall and move slowly to get to the stairway that led to the rooftop. I got through, Indiana Jones style, and made my way up to the roof. Which had to be the creepiest area. There were smiley faces painted on the floor, with a track that went around. Footprints were noticeable in the track area, a few boots sat to the side. And there were no walls around there, but gates that were high, with barbed wire on the tops of it. Except for one little section that was torn off in the corner.

I looked up at this one thin smoke stack, at least that's what I assumed it was. But there was one part of it where a few bricks were missing. And that's when I thought I saw a face looking at me. I took a few pictures and that's when the wind became so strong that it almost pushed me off the roof. I was pushed back to the small hole that was torn out. I was yelling into the wind, saying I meant no harm. What else was I to do? I had no idea what was going on, but I kept saying, "I didn't do anything wrong! I'm just taking some pictures. I will leave now. I'm sorry if I offended anyone here."

And the wind stopped. Completely went away. Which then made me go downstairs as fast as possible. Bypassing 3 to 5 steps at a time, I got out in about 30 seconds because I wasn't going to make any force that was there angry at me. When I got down below, I was shaking and my ex asked me what happened. I told her to the best of my ability what had occurred and she laughed at me, telling me to stop fucking around. I kept saying I wasn't but she wasn't having it.

And then we saw this little kitten walking toward us. In the shadows, it came out of nowhere and was purring and just became this cute moment to calm me down. My ex goes over to pet it when all of a sudden it just falls to its side and its stomach opens up and its guts start pouring out, while it was meowing, not in pain but just meowing while this was happening. She looked at me, I looked at her and we both jumped into her car and drove off as fast as we could.
I don't know what happened that day, but when I got home I had two fist marks on my chest and some of the pictures I took that day had some visual proof of something else that was there. Sadly, my ex destroyed all of my pictures that I had there when we broke up, as well as many other items I had so unless I somehow come across some negatives, it's all in my head. I've had moments since then, but that was the biggest concentration of unexplainable occurrences I've ever had happen to me.