bsudailynews - Most people have only heard stories about haunted insane asylums, and few have explored the forsaken halls of these eerie places. Indianapolis resident Justin Potts is an exception to this norm.
Potts is the leader of the Indiana Paranormal Group, a band of friends and individuals interested in the supernatural, which investigates supposed haunted locations and attempts to prove the existence of the supernatural.
One location in particular has drawn Potts back more than 15 times: Central State Hospital, located on the outskirts of downtown Indianapolis.
“There’s so much history to the place, and I’ve had so many personal experiences there,” Potts said.
Central State, originally one brick building, opened in 1848. By the time the hospital permanently closed its doors in 1994, it had been expanded, razed and rebuilt. Reports of patient abuse and failed funding contributed to the institution’s shutdown, according to the Indiana state Web site.
Potts said he thinks the entire mood of the campus changes after dark. He and his team are forced to rely solely on flashlights because no light enters the inside. The temperature inside of the buildings is always colder, he said. The tunnels are tight and narrow at some points, forcing those entering down onto hands and knees to get through. Vision is limited. Rooms seem to have been abandoned in a rush; traces of how life in the hospital once was can still be found in the place.
Sometimes “spirits” reveal themselves in the hospital as strange shadows, mist-like clouds or tiny orbs of light, Potts said.
“Most of them don’t really show themselves,” Potts said. “They’ll just speak if anything.”
Potts said spirits sometimes stay in a certain place after death due to a significant event, good or bad, that occurred there.
“Their spirit might show up there because they’re trying to find something that means so much to them that they can’t move on,” Potts said.
In the hospital’s early days, the administration building was where patients were housed. Many Electric Voice Phenomena recordings have occurred there, Potts said. EVPs are captured when a voice recorder picks up supposed voices of unexplained entities.
On one of Pott’s favorite EVP recordings from Central State, something states, “Follow me,” along with, “Can you help me?”
Despite these occurrences, the ghost hunter said it takes a lot for him to be afraid. He has witnessed an apparition of a full-fledged ghost on one investigation, so until he sees this at Central State, his bravery holds out.
Potts said he enjoys investigating the so-called “hot spots” in the hospital from where stories stem. The tunnels were used to move deceased patients out of the hospital without the others knowing, and it is said that the souls of those bodies still roam through the stone passages, Potts said. Supposed cries for help are said to resonate from rooms where patient abuse may have occurred. Although the hospital is now abandoned, it still seems to stir with the spirits of those who once lived there, Potts said.
CENTRAL STATE HOSPITAL, INDIANAPOLIS, IN
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While the Indiana legislature had authorized the establishment of a "hospital for the insane" as early as 1827, the doors of the Indiana Hospital for the Insane (later re-named Central State Hospital) did not open until November, 1848. At this time, the hospital (called the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane after 1889 and then called Central State Hospital after 1926) opened with five patients and a single building, and by 1928, physicians cared for nearly 3,000 patients. At that time, the hospital consisted of one brick building situated on a large parcel of land, numbering over 100 acres, in the outskirts of Indianapolis (on Washington Street, west of downtown).From 1848-1948, the hospital grew yearly until it encompassed two massive ornate buildings for the male and female patients, a pathological department, a "sick" hospital for the treatment of physical ailments, a farm colony where patients engaged in "occupational therapy", a chapel, an amusement hall complete with an auditorium, billiards, and bowling alleys, a bakery, a fire house, a cannery manned by patients, and idyllic gardens and fountains.
The more ornate of the two massive ornate buildings came to be known as "the Seven Steeples". This building was designed on the Kirkbride plan of state hospital design.
For a half-century, this complex array of buildings and gardens beckoned to all of the state's mentally ill. By 1905, however, mental health institutions elsewhere in Indiana, built in Evansville, Logansport, Madison, and Richmond relieved an overcrowded Central State Hospital of some of its patient load, leaving it to treat only those from the "central district", an area of 38 counties situated in the middle portion of the state.
By the late 1970s, most of the hospital's ostentatious, Victorian-era buildings were declared unsound and razed. In their place, the state constructed brick buildings of a nondescript, institutional genre. These modern buildings and the medical staff therein continued to serve the state's mentally ill, until allegations of patient abuse and funding troubles sparked an effort to forge new alternatives to institutionalization which, in turn, led to the hospital's closure in 1994.