Athens State Hospital

Also known as the Athens Hospital For The Insane, Athens SH was built in 1874 and designed under the Kirkbride Plan by the Architect Levi T. Scofield.  The Kirkbride building was abandoned in the early 1990′s and was eventually put to use by the Ohio University.  The administration section of the building is now the home of The Kennedy Art Museum.

This was my second visit to explore and photograph the women’s wards.  Though mostly empty of artifacts found in most abandoned state hospitals (beds, wheelchairs, clothes, etc) I found the wards at Athens to be quite beautiful.  The ridged ceilings are unique to the space, as well as decorative window grating, which kept patients from escaping but added a touch of elegance.

Attempts at renovation were made, I’m guessing some time in the 1970′s, especially in the “violent” wards.  Cheaply built nurses stations and flimsy artificial doorways, destroying the original tall day room entry ways, and blocking hallways.  Large white globe lamps hang from the ceiling, off kilter and filled with brown stagnant water.

The “seclusion” rooms were quite disturbing.  Many with large metal bolt locks, thick plexiglass viewing windows, plywood window coverings to reduce daylight, and obvious patient vandalism in the form of scratches, dents, and scrawlings on the walls and doors.

Vintage postcard of the front exterior.  Woman’s wards are on the right.

Another unique feature to Athens were two connecter hallways with large holes in the wall to allow in more sunlight.

Presumably an art therapy room.

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About jeremyharrisphotography

Professional portrait/lifestyle/music photographer based in Brooklyn New York.
This entry was posted in abandoned, architecture, asylum, decay, Fujifilm X-Pro1, Kirkbride, urban decay, urban exploration. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Athens State Hospital

  1. David says:

    I’ve been part of the team of architect’s replacing the Oregon version of the Kirkbride. Here’s what’s beneath the plaster:
    http://sanslartigue.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/stripping-the-nest/

    • That’s great, David! I’ve seen underneath the plaster at Taunton SH, when the building was in the process of being demolished. I’m happy that Oregon SH is being preserved. Keep me updated on the progress.

  2. Quite remarkable. What truly amazes me is that you can handle/seem to enjoy being in these places – gives me the creeps all the way from here! Camera and photographer as witness to our time… I suspect there is a story here.

  3. I love that nothing is destoryed and you can still vision what it once looked like inside. Beautiful

  4. Beautiful rooms. Thank you!!!

  5. Rom says:

    Beautiful pictures, what were these shot with ?

  6. takes me from reality into what was, who might have been there: resident, patient care worker, visitor, janitor … the light streaming in… incredible to see. Thank you for sharing. They are wonderfully done and there is something that takes my breath away. Like some say it is creepy…and it very well looks it in some cases, there is something that is innocent about mental institutions…when photographed by the right person some areas become soft and even child like.. that was felt more in the art therapy room.. thank you thank you for sharing your escape.

  7. Pingback: » American Asylums: Moral Architecture of the 19th Century Art of Psychiatry Society

  8. Sara says:

    Amazing! I truly love your pictures, there’s something in those places that always takes my breath away. I just came across your portfolio, but still I feel the need to thank you for taking me inside those atmospheres, I find your work really inspiring! You have a new follower from Italy (:

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