Athens State Hospital

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In 1867 the Ohio Legislature appointed a commission to find a site for an asylum in south-eastern Ohio. A site in Athens was found suitable. Construction began in 1867 and the Athens Lunatic Asylum was completed during 1874. Levi T. Scofield was the architect.

By the 1990s the institution, now known as the Athens Mental Health Center, had vacated the campus for a new location. Soon after, the former state asylum campus began a new life as part of nearby Ohio University. Many of the out-buildings have been renovated and put to use, while the Kirkbride now houses the Kennedy Art Museum and some studios for art students. Although the main administration building and some sections of the patient wings have been renovated, much of the Kirkbride is still empty and awaiting reuse.

Like many other Kirkbrides, the building sits on top of a hill. It faces the nearby Hocking River looking toward the center of Athens and the main campus of Ohio University. The building appears to be in exceptionally good condition, although the cupolas which used to crown parts of the roof are now missing. The ward interiors don't have much in terms of remaining nineteenth-century architectural details either.

Other names for this hospital:

  • Athens Lunatic Asylum
  • Athens Hospital for the Insane
  • Athens Asylum for the Insane
  • Southeastern Ohio Mental Health Center
  • Athens Mental Health Center
  • The Ridges

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Please Help Save The Athens Kirkbride
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Blog Posts

Help Save the Athens Kirkbride
Please help the Athens County Historical Society and Museum save the Athens Kirkbride by signing this online petition. Ohio University (current owner of the former Athens...
Asylum on the Hill - New Book on Athens State Hospital
There's a new book about Athens State Hospital coming out. On Friday, March 30th from 5:00-7:00PM Ohio University Press is hosting a free public event at The Kennedy Museum of...
Virtual Tour of Athens State Hospital
You can now download a computer-generated version of The Ridges containing a virtual model of the Athens State Hospital Kirkbride. The computer model was developed and produced...