The Ridges, also known as the Athens Mental Health Center, is located in Athens, Ohio.
Originally monikered the Athens Asylum for the Criminally Insane, this massive institution first opened its door on January 9, 1874, 135 years ago.
The main building, enormous in structure, was designed around the idea that it was therapeutic for patients to be housed in a facility that resembled a home. Asylums at this time were more often than not a facade of mental abuse and torture.
The Ridges was a first of its kind, an asylum where bleeding, freezing,and kicks to the head were not thought of as ways to “shock” the illness out of the brain.
The less disturbed patients were housed closer to the center where the administrative offices and employee housing were.
The violent patients were housed at the far end of the wings away from employee housing and convenient exit and entries.
The building housed over 200 patients until over crowding ensued in the early 1900’s. The patient count then rose to nearly 2,000 patients in a building with only 544 rooms. The increase in popularity lead to the decline of patient treatment.
Once unique in its mental practices, The Ridges fell prone to old time customs. Eventually, The Ridges reverted to hostile patient care including physical abuse, water treatment, shock therapy, and lobotomies.
By 1993 the Athens Asylum for the Criminally Insane bused its last patients out and closed its doors for good. All patients except one that is.
On December 1, 1978, a female patient named Margaret Schilling disappeared from one of the active wards. On January 12,1979, 42 days later, they found her lifeless body in the abandoned top floor of ward N. 20.
The ward at the time, abandoned and closed down for years, was used for sick, infectious patients. A search was done when the women went missing but apparently the only floor not checked was ward N. 20. When a maintenance man found her body, lifeless, cold, and unclothed, she had been dead for several weeks.
The official cause of death was heart failure but why still remains a mystery. A stain in the shape of a human figure can still be seen on the floor where she died. It is said that her spirit can be seen peering from the window of the room in which she spent her final moments. People have also said to hear disembodied female voices, lights, shadow people and the sound of squeaking gurneys.