Jamie Davis Writes



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.


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).


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:

Movie Night at the Lucas Theatre – Savannah, GA

Outside Lucas Theatre
Historic Lucas Theatre – Savannah, GA

Friday, October 18, Bob and I took in a showing of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

It was tremendous fun seeing the movie here, and recognizing a lot of the real venues that were used in the film. Some things were true to form, others were not. For instance, we have yet to see a jet fly over Forsyth Park, and the airport used in the movie is decidedly not something we recognize. Clary’s Café is only open for breakfast and lunch, and there are no double-decker tour buses in town, much less airport pick-ups by the tour companies.

They did get a few things spot-on, such as depicting the beauty of Jones Street, and sensationalizing the nutty eccentricities of those who inhabit this small town. There is a quote in the movie that Bob always cracks up at and it is:  “It’s like Gone With the Wind on Mescaline.” That about sums it up.

About halfway in to Midnight, the seventy or so year old woman in the row in front of me decided she needed to get up. Since this is Savannah, the movie theatre was of course serving drinks, and she and her friend had been enjoying this particular amenity for some time. Well, the poor lady fell right on her butt, and being in a Lemonhead delirium myself, the only thing I could do is suppress my laughter and sink low in my seat, shaking uncontrollably. Bob thought I was having a seizure. Well, she was fine, and she and her lady friend received top-offs from an employee (and signed waivers if someone was on top of their game) and settled back in to enjoy the remainder of the movie, like a true original Savannah character.

I’ve always loved old theatres, and the 1921 Lucas Theatre has some magnificent details inside. This was the first place in Savannah to feature air conditioning, and this was a main selling point to attract customers. Sort of a “We have air conditioning. Oh yeah, and if you come in we’ll be showing a movie too.” The Lucas closed in 1976. The last movie shown was The Exorcist. A series of businesses occupied the space until the building was saved in 1986 by Savannahians and some help from the Forrest Gump celebrities. Kevin Spacey has box seats to this day (reserved for those who donate in excess of $250,000). A $14 million restoration project spanned fourteen years.

Check out the ceiling fixture and the wall plaster that shows gryphons.
ceiling gryphons

ceiling fixture lucas
I went back and forth debating with myself whether it was a gryphon or a liger, getting my mythological creatures mixed up.

I loved spotting the cameo-ish wall décor.
wall cameo
I hear in the 1980’s the place was a nightclub, and pieces of red velvet were used to cover up all of these columns. What is pictured, is said to be the only original one left when the theatre was saved in 1986.

Details on the ceiling:

Ceiling Lucas Theatre

Counterweights backstage:

And my favorite shot of the moulding at the top of one wall, because it looks like a painting:

looks like a painting
Further reading:


Surviving Yellow Fever: A Night Out at the Davenport House

Last night Bob and his significant Savannah freelance writer saw the 7:30 Dreadful Pestilence performance at the Davenport House Museum. Variations of the program have been running for ten years now, but being new to the city, this was my first time seeing it.

We began in the courtyard and walked across the street to the old Kennedy Pharmacy to observe an 1820 town hall meeting that covered the events of sickly season (May – October) from the perspective of two dueling newspaper editors. During the meeting, we heard from the mayor and several townspeople as well. It is a story as old as any city, I imagine. One editor wanted to report freely on the deaths because he believed that health officials were hiding the extent of the disease, and the other editor accused him of over-reacting and inciting panic in the city. This storyline is very much relatable to our time.

The people blamed foreigners, mostly the poor Irish families who were accused of living in filth and spreading disease. It was not until the very end of sickly season when the mayor had suffered the death of his own wife that he realized Yellow Fever was not a disease limited to the poverty-stricken population of Savannah. It could happen to anyone, and he advised his citizens to flee immediately if they had the means to do so.

Once dismissed from the town hall meeting, we entered the candlelit house where we observed the doctor treating a young girl, and then we climbed the cantilever stairs all the way up to Yamacraw (staged in the authentic haint-blue, peeling paint attic, which is generally off-limits to the public). In Yamacraw, a slave told us that the Africans had to bury all of the city’s dead, while their own population remained uncounted in the death toll.

The night ended at a wake. A young girl had passed. A few days before, her mother saw the corpse candle in the girl’s bedroom (a single floating flame in the room, but without a candle to ground it) which was a sure sign of impending death.

In the end, we gambled and drew slips of paper to let fate determine our chances. After four days of suffering, I fought hard and rallied. I survived the deadly pestilence. Bob was not so lucky.

passed away

Fort Pulaski National Monument

One of the best things about moving to a new city is that you have the opportunity to be a permanent tourist.

I so enjoyed getting to explore Fort Pulaski. Generally speaking, forts are a lot of fun to poke around in anyway, but this one has several perks. First of all, you must drive across a bridge to reach the fort. Once on site, you get to walk over a drawbridge to enter the fort. Upon entering, you discover that you have the run of the entire place. You will love weaving in and out of the rooms and stumbling upon unexpected bits of history. For instance, the prison area is particularly compelling.

Make sure to check the website to find out when the cannon firings will be held, and if there will be a guided tour that you can take advantage of during your visit. If you ask me, the only thing Fort Pulaski is missing is a ghost tour or a ghost hunt!

Inside Fort Pulaski  - Tybee Island, GA
Inside Fort Pulaski – Tybee Island, GA

There are three shorter nature trails that are offered on site. If you are looking for a more strenuous workout, you should hop on the McQueens Island Rails to Trails. This is a six mile path that winds right between salt marshes and the Savannah River. The road is nothing but gravel now, but where you are walking used to be the railroad tracks that carried train passengers back and forth from Savannah to Tybee Island.

Further reading:

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