Travel

Explore the nine creepiest, still-standing former hospitals in North America

Creepy abandoned hospital
James Howe

The problem: you've always wanted to explore a super creepy abandoned hospital or asylum but never knew where to start. The solution: an industrial-strength pair of bolt cutters and willingness to run like hell from the cops and/or ghosts our handy list of the creepiest former hospitals that're still at least partially standing in North America.

Opened in 1878 (and shut down in 1992) Danvers State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Danvers, MA was sooo creepy even when it was still kinda new (lobotomies galore!) that it was the basis for HP Lovecraft's Arkham Asylum, which was in turn the basis for the Arkham Asylum in Batman. Although some of the original structure's been torn down to make way for a condo development, the cemetery's still there, meaning the residents of Avalon Communities are sooo screwed.

The artist formerly known as the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum at Morristown and eventually known as Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital was built as Jersey's state mental institution in 1876 because of the lobbying of Dorthea Dix, advocate to the mentally ill. Overcrowded and a wee bit shady through most of its history, crazily, Greystone didn't actually close until 2003. The bulk of the original buildings have been torn down and there's a new hospital with the same name on the site now, but the eerie main building is still there.

There's nothing creepy about Norwich State Hospital. JK, there totally is! Just take a look at that photo. When it was opened in 1904, it was intended to house people convicted of a crime by way of insanity; it totally did... until, eventually, they made room for geriatrics, TB patients, and anyone else you'd rather not sit next to at Thanksgiving. Almost all of the buildings are still standing and full of bizarro medical refuse, and you can still tour them, thanks to the National Registry of Historic Places -- BOOM.

In 1908, Spring City, PA became the proud new parents of Pennhurst State School and Hospital, or, at that time, the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic... seriously. Pretty much a questionable place from the get-go, Pennhurst -- not a super good place to be a kid with disabilities -- closed in '87, and since it was on the National Register of Historic places, largely repurposed. But fear not, brave explorer of formerly nefarious places, the administration building's actually been turned into a haunted house.

MacGyver, Jennifer Eight, Kingdom Hospital, and HAPPY GILMORE are just a few of the Hollywood dozens to use Riverview Hospital, a mental health facility in Coquitlam, British Columbia. The place had a solid run from 1913-2012, and it's on Canada's register of historic places, so it'll be around for you to pillage for years to come.

Opened waaaaaay back in 1856, the Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island (Blackwell's Island back in the day) was all the rage with ailing immigrants looking for a good quarantine back in the 1800s. In 1875 the place became a training center for nurses, and has been abandoned and rotting since the 1950s. The ruins are actually being stabilized just for the sake of morbid explorers like you.

With a history dating back to 1864, Weston, WV's Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (eventually the Weston State Hospital) is nothing if not overwhelmingly foreboding, starting with its massive, gothic hand-cut stone masonry exterior. Abandoned since its closure in '94, it's now owned by a private investor who's in the process of renovating portions of hospital grounds while conducting historical and haunted tours on the rest.

Traverse City Regional Psychiatric Hospital
Wikimedia Commons

Decommissioned in 1989 after operating since 1885, Traverse City Regional Psychiatric Hospital (formerly called the Northern Michigan Asylum) is one of the few hospitals of its kind that's actually managed to avoid using straight-jackets, shock treatments, and the like, in favor of something called the "beauty is therapy" philosophy, probably sponsored by Olay. The complex is being preserved and re-used, but vast portions of Building 50, the central structure, are still untouched and as creepy as an asylum patient wearing a detox mud mask.

The Waverly Hills Sanatorium was a tuberculosis hospital from 1910-61 (it was a geriatric hospital until it was closed for good in '80), but in that short time span it saw thousands of deaths, and is considered one of the most haunted hospitals in the United States. It is now owned by some peeps who host ghost hunting tours and hope to renovate it into a haunted property.