Central State Psychiatric Hospital - Milledgeville Georgia

The Haunted Central State Psychiatric Hospital

The History

Originally known as "Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic Asylum, the Central State Hospital, located in Milledgeville, opened in 1842 as Georgia’s first public psychiatric hospital. Milledgeville was the first capitol in the State of Georgia. Today the property is now mostly empty and falling into decay. Two thousand acres still echo with the memory of the patient who were treated -- and mistreated -- at Georgia's most haunted asylum.

In 1837, Georgia lawmakers authorized the “Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum.” Five years later, the facility opened on the outskirts of the cotton-rich town that served as the antebellum state capital. The first patient, Tillman B. of Bibb County, arrived in December 1842. He died of “maniacal exhaustion” before the next summer. Many more patients followed Mr. B., and the institution grew into the largest insane asylum in the world. A century after it opened, 200 buildings sprawled over 2,000 acres and housed up to 13,000 patients at what was then called Central State Hospital. But throughout Georgia, it was known solely by the name of the neighboring town: Milledgeville.

Parents routinely admonished misbehaving children with the threat, “I’m going to send you to Milledgeville!” Georgia novelist Terry Kay recalls that as a boy in the 1940s, “it was one of the few words with great power. Milledgeville. City of the crazies. It was a word of fear and mystery, a word that classified ‘funny’ people.” Thousands of Georgians were shipped to Milledgeville, often with unspecified conditions, or disabilities that did not warrant a classification of mental illness, with little more of a label than “funny.” The hospital outgrew its resources; by the 1950s, the staff-to-patient ratio was a miserable one to 100. Doctors wielded the psychiatric tools of the times—lobotomies, insulin shock, and early electroshock therapy—along with far less sophisticated techniques: Children were confined to metal cages; adults were forced to take steam baths and cold showers, confined in straitjackets, and treated with douches or “nauseants.” “It has witnessed the heights of man’s humanity and the depths of his degradation,” Dr. Peter G. Cranford, the chief clinical psychologist at the hospital in 1952, wrote in his book, But for the Grace of God: The Inside Story of the World’s Largest Insane Asylum. 

By the mid-1960s, as new psychiatric drugs allowed patients to move to less restrictive settings, Central State’s population began its steady decline. A decade before the national movement toward deinstitutionalization, Georgia governors Carl Sanders and Jimmy Carter began emptying Central State in earnest, sending mental patients to regional hospitals and community clinics, and people with developmental disabilities to small group homes. As the asylum’s buildings were vacated, four were converted into prisons. One prison remains on the property today. In a separate facility, the Cook Building, the hospital houses 179 forensic patients (who have been found by courts to be not guilty by reason of insanity or incompetent to stand trial). Today only 14 non-forensic patients remain at Central State, all elderly people awaiting alternative placements. By the end of this year, the state Department of Behavioral Health and Disabilities, which operated at Central State, will occupy only nine buildings. With fewer than 200 patients on the campus, and only a handful of administrative offices operating, Central State feels abandoned. Indeed, several of the starkly beautiful brick buildings on the “quad” surrounding a lush pecan grove have been boarded up since the late 1970s and have begun to decay into haunted ruins. Yet amid the entropy, life goes on. Church services are still held in the chapel on the quad, which hosts weddings and funerals. 

It's history is grim and it's future even darker. A "memorial" is found there to honor those that lost their lives within it's walls. The Cedar Lane Cemetery, on the property, has some 2,000 cast-iron markers commemorating the 25,000 patients buried on the hospital grounds. The markers, with numbers instead of names, once identified individual graves but were pulled up and tossed into the woods by unknowing prison inmates working as groundskeepers to make mowing easier.

The Hauntings

Many believe the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic Asylum to be haunted due to the years it has been around. It is observed that over 25,000 patients are buried in 6 cemeteries of Georgia State Sanitariums sprawling 1,750 acres of land. The Asylum itself still stands today, decaying and haunting any who dare to come close. Access to the deserted buildings is monitored for safety reasons. Several reports of voices, strange sightings and occurrences revolve around the spooky ground – especially the empty grounds where the deceased patients lie. Some local folks of Milledgeville have put together a haunted tour that takes place on Halloween that focuses partially on the history and possible paranormal activity that surrounds this spine-chilling site. Some claims come from golfers adjacent to the property constantly hearing screams coming from certain abandoned buildings. These claims can range from a simple visual anomaly from a bystander to eerie feelings and sounds. The Central State Complex does not offer one particular spirit or horrendous event, but a correlation of many years of anguish.

Central State Hospital
Powell Building
620 Broad Street
Milledgeville Ga 31062



WARNING: Abandoned Properties

Abandoned properties and buildings are everywhere and they can be quite fascinating. There are many different types of abandoned buildings. There are houses, hospitals, resorts, industrial sites and much more. These abandoned buildings tend to hold a certain mystery in their derelict state. Why are they empty? Why were they left to rot? What type of people resided there? Why did they leave? What’s in there now? What is going to happen to the building? Abandoned buildings bring up more questions than answers.

Please keep in mind that exploring an abandoned building can be very dangerous as some of the buildings 
are not structurally sound. Never explore alone.  It’s best to go in with a partner, good lighting and (certainly) modes of communication for help (if needed). Stories have been shared amongst fellow explorers of falling through floors and falling down collapsing stairs. You may also find (besides ghostly inhabitants) rodents, animals or maybe a homeless person.  Always use good judgment!  Also, keep in mind that if the building is posted as no trespassing you should gain permission before exploring.

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