Sunday, October 5, 2008

Back in Athens, back to The Ridges.

- A cobblestone path featuring bricks originally fired in Athens, Ohio leads up to "The Ridges."
"The Ridges" is the name designated for the Ohio University owned, former Athens State Hospital Property. The Kirkbride style hospital originally opened in 1874. For those of you unfamiliar with "Kirkbrides," they were a common style of mental hospitals built on large plots of isolated land where patients took care of the land. Many Kirkbrides like the Athens State Hospital featured self sustaining apple orchards, gardens, and dairy farms. The hospital in Athens became part of Ohio University in 1993 when the final patients left and the grounds were transferred to the school. Today the main ward and wings serve as an art museum and office space, unable to be photographed.

- Outside of the former Athens State Hospital.

While the main former hospital is slightly renovated and off limits, there is another story to tell in the hills above "The Ridges." In 1924 Tuberculosis had stricken Ohio so bad that there was a state mandate for every county in Ohio to have a hospital constructed specifically for treating patients suffering from TB. Athens County received one in the hills overlooking the city and State Hospital. I first visited the TB wards just about a year ago.

Eventually in Western Society TB was nearly wiped out of existence with the developments of vaccines and treatment. Even today new TB cases are somewhat rare and easily treatable in modern facilities.

- A staircase in the former TB ward.

On a sunny afternoon a friend and I decided to take a quick trip up to the TB ward to take some photographs. The place is almost like a tourist destination. Thanks to a cheesy ABC Family television segment a few years back, many people have come to stereotype the former hospital structures as "haunted." Thanks to the "ghost hunting" popularity these days, historical structures like this have become the victims of college vandalism and the final resting place for many Natural Light cans.

Some time after TB was no longer a prevalent health threat, the former TB ward became some sort of day care center for children as evident by the following photograph:

- Markings on the floor of this room indicate the former children's area. Games like "hop skotch" and "4 square" are drawn onto the floor.

From what I've read, this building was abandoned some time in the late 70's. The entire hospital complex was abandoned in 1993. Today it is owned and partly used by Ohio University. While it would be very costly to renovate, a dated copy of the "University Master Plan" calls eventually for the entire Ridges complex to be demolished to make way for new structures.

- The sun sets on the Ohio University Ridges Facility.
Queen City Discovery will soon be celebrating it's one year anniversary. In "celebration" of it I'll have an update from some massive abandoned locations we hit up in Cincinnati this summer. Thanks for everyone's feedback, support, and reading of this website. I'll also be unveiling a new, updated gallery and will try to update more frequently.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking me back! I went to OU 1992-1997, and I remember exploring The Ridges before it got "cleaned up".