What is it about hospitals that garners so much haunted history and spectral speculation around Halloween time?
The dark, secluded cemetery is one thing. Full of dead bodies. We get it. And who knows what evil lurks in the unkempt mansion on the other side of town?
Hospitals, on the other hand, are places of healing and second chances. Death and sorrow are inevitably present, of course, but most people leave relieved of whatever burden brought them in and are hopeful that life is going to be a little sunnier.
Nevertheless, a decidedly unscientific search of the Internet turns up many hospitals, both long-abandoned and currently operational, rumored to be the playground of ghouls and goblins. Throwback Thursday offers you a sampling. Do you have your own ghost story to share about your facility? Please throw it in the comment section below. Happy Halloween!
• In St. Augustine, Fla., the nation’s oldest city, graveyard and hospital lore combine. It’s said that the Spanish Military Hospital, dating back to the 1700s, sat on what originally was a burial ground for the Timucua, a group of American Indians. The historic building now houses the Spanish Military Hospital Museum, and is said to be imbued with a sad, heavy presence upon entering. Some people claim they hear screams and cries and see long-dead patients hovering in hospital gowns. Check it out yourself at Spanish Military Hospital Museum.
• The website Mysterious Heartland states that there are a lot of haunted sites in Illinois. We chose a couple to feature. For example: More a spa than full-fledged hospital, the history of “Sunnybrook Asylum” (see image 3) is too fun to pass up. Apparently, the site in Ingleside was a utopian commune around the turn of the last century, known as the “Spirit Fruit Society” and dedicated to two precepts, hard work and free love — which begs the question, who has time for free love if you’re working so hard? Turned into a health spa in the 1940s and 1950s, it was later abandoned because, according to legend, the nurses there became insane, burning down the hospital, patients and all. The site did actually burn down in 1995, and is now being developed as a subdivision.
• In Peoria, Ill., some say certain nuns have been attending to patients a little longer than is natural at St. Francis Medical Center (see image 1). Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis and the hospital have been caring for the sick since 1877 (otherwise known as “gothic ghost times”; how come you seldom see ghosts from the mid-1980s?). Over the years, two nuns will “appear to comfort the sick before mysteriously disappearing, "according to the website. “No one knows who they were in life, but their presence is appreciated.”
• Speaking of mysterious nuns, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson, Ariz., a spectral sister reportedly walks the hallways and attempts to alert the nursing staff when a patient needs help. Which leads to the question: Is it fair if this hospital scores well on patient experience surveys if it gets that kind of help from beyond?
• The Madison (Ga.) Civil War Hospital (see image 2) certainly saw a great deal of suffering during the war, and some souls apparently died, but never really left. “Investigators who have visited this location report a multitude of creepy phenomena, including the apparition of a man dressed in black standing at the top of the stairs, various sounds throughout the building like footsteps on the stairs, a bouncing ball in the hallway and sounds of movement in the basement,” according to the lovetoknow.com website. “Visitors also report seeing the apparition of a lady in a vintage blue dress in one particular room.”
• No ghosts have been sighted, but folks have experienced plenty of creepy feelings at the Mark H. Wentworth House for the Chronically Invalid in Portsmouth, N.H., which is now a senior citizen care facility. According to New Hampshire magazine, patients and staff have reported feeling an invisible presence, hearing footsteps when no one’s around and spotting objects moving around without cause. Kind of like my car keys.
• No one can say for sure whether the odd goings-on at the 123 On The Park apartment building in Brooklyn — formally the Caledonian Hospital (see image 4) — should be blamed on dead patients still unhappy with their care or deceased tenants demanding to remain in their rent-controlled units even in the afterlife. Some residents report hearing strange voices and mysterious footsteps in the building. Three doormen are said to have fled their posts since the place was converted to a residence.