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Haunted Asylums

Haunted Asylums Journals

Sharing a sample Handmade Haunted Asylums Journal made from photos of an investigation of St. Albans Sanatorium in Radford, Virginia.

The story inspiration of the journal is as follows:

Once upon a time, a younger version of myself set off on an adventure to explore abandoned insane asylums and prisons.  My first book, Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums was born. But there were still stories to tell. Somehere deep within the innards of an abandoned insane asylum in the Northeastern United States, I made a discovery…

A handmade patient’s journal, taped and stapled together using a culmination of whatever materials were available during art therapy. There were envelopes, photos, and assorted charms hidden within the book.

What you hold in your hands is a copy inspired by the original patient’s journal. Peppered by color photos taken during the course of my own explorations into abandoned asylums and prisons, the journal also features envelopes for holding your treasures (one has been started for you). I have upcycled hardcover books and given them new life with each creation, making each journal a truly one-of-a-kind handmade book.

I hope that it inspires you to document a chapter in your own journey. Create some madness. Make something for yourself. Escape the prison of your own mind. Write your own book. – Jamie Davis Whitmer

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Some of My Favorite Photos From Missouri State Pen & Tooele Hospital

Throwback to traveling days for Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums. A sampling of some of my favorite photos!

Missouri State Pen

 

Tooele Hospital 

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To purchase your copy of Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums, head on over to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Asylums-Prisons-Sanatoriums-Institutions/dp/073873750X/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Some of My Favorite Photos from Mansfield (Ohio State Reformatory) & West Virginia Pen

Throwback to traveling days for Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums. A sampling of some of my favorite exterior photos to get into the Halloween spirit!

Mansfield (Ohio State Reformatory)

Mansfield - The Ohio State Reformatory
Mansfield – The Ohio State Reformatory
Mansfield - The Ohio State Reformatory
Mansfield – The Ohio State Reformatory
Mansfield - The Ohio State Reformatory
Mansfield – The Ohio State Reformatory

Why is my favorite color “Institution Green” as seen above? Maybe I’ll just refer to it as “Seafoam,” or “Mint Green” when mixing among polite society.

West Virginia State Pen

West Virginia State Pen
West Virginia State Pen
West Virginia State Pen
West Virginia State Pen
West Virginia State Pen
West Virginia State Pen

To purchase your copy of Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums, head on over to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Asylums-Prisons-Sanatoriums-Institutions/dp/073873750X/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Some of My Favorite Photos From Yorktown Memorial Hospital & Farrar School

Throwback to traveling days for Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums. A sampling of some of my favorite exterior photos to get into the Halloween spirit!

Yorktown Memorial Hospital – Yorktown, TX 

Yorktown Memorial Hospital
Yorktown Memorial Hospital
Yorktown Memorial Hospital
Yorktown Memorial Hospital

Yorktown Memorial Hospital

Yorktown Memorial Hospital

Farrar School – Maxwell, IA 

Farrar School
Farrar School
Farrar School
Farrar School
Farrar School
Farrar School

To purchase your copy of Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums, head on over to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Asylums-Prisons-Sanatoriums-Institutions/dp/073873750X/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Some of My Favorite Photos from St. Albans Sanatorium & Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Throwback to traveling days for Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums. A sampling of some of my favorite exterior photos to get into the Halloween spirit!

St. Albans Sanatorium – Radford, VA 

St. Albans Sanatorium
St. Albans Sanatorium

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum – Weston, WV

 

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

To purchase your copy of Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums, head on over to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Asylums-Prisons-Sanatoriums-Institutions/dp/073873750X/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Some of My Favorite Pictures from Ashmore Estates and Waverly Hills

Throwback to traveling days for Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums A sampling of some of my favorite photos to get into the Halloween spirit!

Ashmore Estates

Ashmore Estates - Side Exterior
Ashmore Estates – Side Exterior
Ashmore Estates
Ashmore Estates
Ashmore Estates - Institution Green Walls
Ashmore Estates – Institution Green Walls
Ashmore Estates - Grafitti on Institution Green Walls
Ashmore Estates – Grafitti on Institution Green Walls
Ashmore Estates - A reminder
Ashmore Estates – A Reminder
Boiler Room - Ashmore Estates
Boiler Room – Ashmore Estates
Boiler Room - Ashmore Estates
Boiler Room – Ashmore Estates

Waverly Hills

Waverly Hills - Louisville, KY
Waverly Hills – Louisville, KY
Waverly Hills - Welcome!
Waverly Hills – Welcome!
Waverly Hills - On The Wards
Waverly Hills – On The Wards
Waverly Hills - The Morgue
Waverly Hills – The Morgue
Waverly Hills - 4th Floor Hallway
Waverly Hills – Shadow Person Hallway (4th Floor)

To purchase your copy of Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums, head on over to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Asylums-Prisons-Sanatoriums-Institutions/dp/073873750X/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

A Visit to the Indiana Medical History Museum

The 1896 Pathology Building is just about all that is left of the former Central State Hospital in Indianapolis a/k/a The Indiana Hospital for the Insane (Circa 1848 – 1994). The two-story building has been preserved as a museum. Admission is just $10.00, and includes a one-hour tour that is highly informative, enjoyable, and tastefully macabre (if that is a thing – I kind of just made it up, but I think that phrase sums it up perfectly).

The museum carries a warning to the public: “Young children and visitors sensitive to topics such as mental illness, death, and autopsy may find the museum disturbing. Human skeletons and preserved organs are on display at the museum.”

Step inside.

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Our tour begins in the teaching amphitheater. In its day, the facility was cutting edge, and doctors were diligently working to discover the causes of psych conditions and diseases (dementia / depression / schizophrenia).

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Autopsies were performed and organs were kept to be studied.

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The morgue:

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The Anatomical Museum and a lab room. There is a skylight above the marble table because it provided the best light for dissecting.

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I could have spent hours in the library, but the books are fragile, and off-limits. Don’t all of those “American Journal of Insanity” volumes from the early 1800’s look fascinating?!

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Lastly, the photography room:

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Even if you do not have any medical background whatsoever, you can appreciate how far we have come in just 100 years.

As always, we log our adventures inside our “Play” Journal, by Stealth Journals. “Play,” is an indexed book journal by Stealth Journals that should be used to record all of your good times.

Further reading:

http://www.imhm.org/

Preston Castle Foundation Marks New Ownership with March 21, 2015 Deed Ceremony

Gather around, gather around. Open invitations have been issued to mark the transfer of ownership over at Preston Castle. PrestonCastleInvite-1

About thirteen years ago, the State of California leased the Preston Castle to the Preston Castle Foundation under a 55-year lease. As you might imagine, real rehabilitation strides can only be made with ownership. Now the property can go from preservation to rehabilitation. History or criminology buffs may know the building because it dates back to 1894, when it was the Preston School of Industry. The building pictured below (courtesy of Jerry Funderburgh, Vice President of the Preston Castle Foundation) was actually the administration building.

Castle-front3

The Preston School of Industry was part of the rehabilitation movement to teach juvenile boys useful skills instead of resorting to incarceration alone, and it was in operation through 1960. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Paranormal buffs know the building from local legends and many television shows that have covered the unsolved murder of Anna Corbin, among other mysterious occurrences. I have always said that it would be on my list of locations if I ever get around to writing a sequel to Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums.

Castle Spirits is the in-house group that coordinates the many paranormal events that the Preston Castle Foundation schedules. In fact, they are hosting their very first paranormal conference the last weekend of May. Besides encouraging the paranormal events, the Foundation offers a wealth of programs for the entire community. They have wine tastings & tours, photographer’s day, flashlight tours, movie nights, and even a golf event planned soon! Such good news out of Ione, California.

To keep up with events over at The Castle, visit their site or “Like” them on Facebook:

http://prestoncastle.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Preston-Castle-FoundationIone-Ca/169888893061409?sk=wall

Nopeming Sanatorium – the “Waverly Hills Sanatorium” of Duluth, Minnesota?

AMENDMENT – posted 11/10/16 – http://www.nopeming.com. They are open for tours!!!

I recently caught the Ghost Adventures episode on Nopeming Sanatorium in Duluth, Minnesota. I don’t watch a lot of television, and I especially don’t watch a lot when I’m working on a new book project, but I am glad I caught this episode. I thought the whole tone of the show was respectful, informative, and tastefully done. The history of Nopeming Sanatorium is very similar to that of Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky. Like Waverly Hills, Nopeming was built in the early 1900’s to serve as a tuberculosis hospital. It was then operated as a nursing home until it finally closed in 2002.

The owners were interviewed in an article for the Twin Cities Pioneer Press (linked below) prior to the episode airing. The building is not open to the public, and that was made very clear in the episode and in the article. Orison Inc. is a non-profit that assumed ownership in 2009. The reported goal was to turn the property into a charter school for special needs children. Funds are low, so the owners have listed the property as available for filming with the Minnesota Film Board’s website and they accepted the offer (it was not listed what their site fee was) from the Travel Channel for Ghost Adventures to film and investigate. My favorite quote from the article comes from Tanya Graysmark, who is on Orison’s Board of Directors: “I don’t think any of us believes it’s haunted, but Orison will gladly accept money from people who would have Americans believe otherwise.” I think that’s exactly the way to be.

People have strong opinions about the paranormal. It really is a subject sort of along the lines of religion, politics, and sex. I recently met a terribly rude lawyer who berated me and insulted my intelligence for writing “one of those ghost books.” He sneered at me and asked: “How can you write about that? I don’t believe in that.” I smiled sweetly and asked him how many books he’s been paid to author. His eyes opened wide, just like his mouth, but he couldn’t make a number come out. To me, the point is not really to prove anything. I am already secure in my personal beliefs and experiences, and my life’s purpose is not centered around trying to convince anyone who is essentially walking around empty and soulless. That’s your personal belief that you are going to have to deal with later, and I really just don’t care. I’m not your minister, your psychic, your healer, or your God. I’m just a fellow traveler, and I really hope if I ever met you that I didn’t try to make you feel like less of a person. I’m getting on a bit of a tirade here, I need to reign this in.

A controversial topic has always been if paranormal investigators are exploiting the history of a location. What Orison is doing is trying to save a building and they are exploring multiple income streams to make that happen. That’s admirable. That’s how businesses survive. If something isn’t working, you try something else. Community thinks you’re crazy for letting the paranormal people come to town? Is the community paying your utility bills?

The National Register of Historic Places contains a few locations that I can think of that have managed to offer full menus of programs to please every type of visitor imaginable. Eastern State Penitentiary, Weston State Hospital (Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum), Alcatraz, Utica State Hospital, and the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane can all be studied in a lesson on how to transform an abandoned building into something worthwhile. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is the one I am most familiar with, so I will talk about them. They have created a museum in the lobby area that relates to historic psychiatric treatment, along with an art exhibit from former patients. They run daily history tours throughout the Civil War wing, and the entire building. They host photography tours, serve as a filming location, and have events throughout the year – concerts, movies, festivals, just about anything you would expect from a cultural center of the town. Of course, they run ghost tours and ghost hunting events at night. The purpose is to become a center of culture and also make a profit while you do that. Those paranormal people will pay anywhere from $1,000 – $1,500 a night to shut a place down. That can sure help make a dent in those utility bills and property taxes.

Dan Turner, the historian who was featured on the episode, shared this historic postcard of the campus:

Nopeming PC

Like Waverly, Nopeming featured a bat-wing design to optimize light and air for the TB patients.

A modern exterior shot was also provided by Dan Turner:

Chateau roof

The Ghost Adventures Crew was said to be the first organized paranormal team allowed access to the buildings for an investigation. When I heard that, I instantly had high expectations for the show because I know from my own little ghost adventures that these types of places can feel quite intense. Within just a few minutes of the show, when they were still doing their initial walk through, they captured an amazing shadow person in the tunnels! There will always be people who are critical of “evidence” and I am too. I can tell you that the image they showed from this tunnel is what I saw with my own eyes while I was exploring death row in Missouri State Pen in connection with Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums. Either I saw a legitimate shadow person or my eyes were playing tricks on me. I don’t know which one it was, but I can tell you that it felt legit to me while it was happening. Right or wrong, scientific or not, I am a person who has learned to trust my feelings. If I get a bad feeling about a place or a person, I bail. (This is a priceless life lesson, by the way. It’s okay to walk out – of old buildings, bad relationships, situations that just don’t fit your life anymore, etc. You don’t endure bad things and get a prize at the end. The prize comes when you leave and build something new).

After watching the show, I reached out to Dan Turner to get a comment about his opinion on paranormal investigators and how they can co-exist with the history of the buildings. Here is what he had to say:

“I may be biased because I appear on the episode as a historian, but I thought it was well done. I was impressed that roughly half of the episode was dedicated to explaining the history, interviewing former workers and the caretaker, and spending time speaking with a local Elder. It’s sadly rare to see Native Americans asked their opinion on anything on television, and to give the Elder the opportunity to explain his belief system boosted my overall opinion of the paranormal genre. The episode demonstrated that such shows can be more than ‘ruin porn’ spliced with orbs and commentary. I agree totally that paranormal groups can be excellent fundraisers, but convincing property owners that do not believe in ghosts often seem hesitant to start conversations. My hope is that Nopeming become a sort of northern Waverly Hills, and that historical and paranormal tours can coincide. The best way to teach history is to connect the past to the tangible; there is nothing quite like visiting a place and becoming fascinated with a space to pique one’s curiosity. Some would say that buildings like this do not have any connection to our modern world, but just look at the anti-vaccination movement! I’d like to show them some of the abandoned hospitals built around the country, where countless people died from diseases that we can protect ourselves against now. I want to point at Nopeming and say, “Do you want to live in a world where you get a bug and die painfully in a place like this, away from your friends and family?” Thank god I don’t need to worry about contracting TB or polio or smallpox or measles or diphtheria…”

Well said, Dan Turner. Thank you for your comment and for sharing your photos.

Property owners would do well to keep their personal beliefs out of fiscal decisions. Opening your building for paranormal investigators is the same thing as opening for photographers. Who cares? As long as you open with the caveat that you are allowing people in at their request and not because you are claiming the place is haunted, I see no harm in it. Everyone has a different motive for the form of leisure they select on any given day. We are living in a world where maybe we just want to leave our cookie-cutter houses and go see something new. Maybe we just want to go somewhere where somebody isn’t trying to sell us a McDonald’s hamburger and a t-shirt that falls apart after two washes. Urban exploration tours have been popping up all over the place – Detroit, Buffalo, even Chernobyl. There are a lot of people out there who will pay top dollar to experience something new. Make no bones about it, there is a market for paranormal and urban tourism. We have all seen Disney World. We weren’t impressed. Who is going to step up and compete to win our dollars?

Dan has an awesome website for further reading over at Substreet, that is linked below. His writings and photos concerning Nopeming are compelling, but the entire site is full of the same quality.

Further Reading:

http://www.nopeming.com

Nopeming
Sanatorium
Duluth, MN

http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_27370228/spooky-abandoned-duluth-nursing-home-gets-national-ghost

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