Kirkbride Buildings Blog

October 17th, 2008

Athens State Alligator

View of Athens State Hospital
I came across some nice documentation of Athens State Hospital which was made available online by Ohio University’s library. Most impressive is Katherine Ziff’s lengthy dissertation Asylum & Community, and this collection of old images. I was especially pleased to see the alligator in the fountain. Till now I STILL didn’t quite believe that an alligator really lived there, even though several sources said so. The story just screamed urban legend to me.

But now I know the truth and I can finally sleep through the night—no more waking up at 2AM wondering “Did an alligator REALLY live in the fountain at Athens? It CAN’T be true…Can it?”

A somewhat related item is an online comic about the infamous stain inside the Athens Kirkbride. Darkhorse Comics recently added it to their MySpace profile. It’s a little on the spooky side, but it’s October, so I’ll play along:) It is kind of cool to see a Kirkbride drawn like that too. There should be more Kirkbride buildings in comics I think.

And finally, there will be a presentation tonight (10/17) at Ohio University’s Ping Center about the history of Athens State Hospital: Halloween Program to Shed Light on The Ridges’ History. In spite of the Halloween link, the presentation is meant to “dispel some of the not-so-respectful myths” about the hospital. It’s probably worth attending if you’re in the Athens area.

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  1. WSH October 17, 2008, 9:59 am

    Pretty cool photos! I’d never heard about that alligator untill now!

  2. Ethan October 17, 2008, 10:53 am

    Really? I thought it was pretty common knowledge. Maybe not though.

    According to the caption, the superintendent at the time brought a baby alligator back from a trip to Florida. He let it live in the fountain during the warmer months, and moved it inside during the winter.

  3. rhieyough November 25, 2008, 2:05 am

    hello,, my name is rhieyough and im a 4th year student of the College of Architecture. Im making a thesis about mental asylums, your site fascinates me, especially the Kirkbride Planning of the structres. I was just wondering if you can show me a list of spaces inside a Kirkbride Building. It will be much of help, but if it is too classified, i will understand.

    Thank you.. God Bless..

  4. tiesha July 1, 2009, 11:45 am

    when did the alligator move

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