The Willard Asylum
Posted 05 July 2011 - 05:04 PM
First I have a question....does anyone know the story of the Saratoga Homestead? I heard a group went in to film and 1 of the crew members never came out.The story interests me greatly I know there is amovie based on it but I dont want to get up the nerve to watch a movie that will scare me(undoubtedly) especially since I know it will be dramatized and loosely based on actual facts?????
OK, The Willard Asylum...About 3 years ago I had the opportunity to spend time on the farms there and was riding in the back of an open trailer, I was facing one of the abandoned buildings, it had somewhat of a tower/overlook, I obviously could tell the building had history,most likely of an institution but that was all I knew.
I was mesmorized by the overlook and sensed something trying to tell me something(for lack of better words) I could almost see(more in my head than with my eyes if that makes sense) and saw a woman in her early to mid 20's dressed in an old fahion faded white nightgown, long messy brown hair and very dark eyes.It was not a scary feeling but a sad one. It felt like she was telling me her name was Emma and she was scared and sad. I did not mention this to anyone as I did not know anyone very well and carried a feeling of deep sadness with me for the whole day. The next day around the same day around the same time I was walking with a group of people and a woman I had never really spoken to before came to me and shared a similiar experience from the day before and without me telling her about the name Emma she said she felt as though the womans name was Emily. The similarity was strange to say the less.
Now that I have looked into the history of the location I understand the sadness and fear but not why myself or this other woman had the experience. I have had many experiences throughout my life but this one bothers me the most because I felt so helpless, I would love to have been able to do something to help her get"out" of there. I have another not so comfortable happening there that I will share at another time.
Posted 05 July 2011 - 05:58 PM
Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:00 PM
Thank you Judecat..I kind of thought the same thing, it seems like something that would have been made public. Given the history of the place I don't doubt it being haunted though.Do you know of any ways to verify such a thing? Other than google, my research skills are lacking?
Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:33 PM
Posted 06 July 2011 - 12:12 AM
Actually Paranormal state went there in 2008. They came up with some interesting stuff,but also seemed like alot of propganda like Chip shouting expletives while being "occupied" by someone else,than being smacked in the face by the demonologist so as to "come out of it".
The history on Lucy is great and a tribute to how times have changed,theres the suitcase stories which were also great,made into a book and a travelling exhibit.
My other experience there was not so simple though.. Very late at night and I am in one of the training dorms trying to fall asleep, the training there is strenuos(sp?) and I had not had a problem sleeping for the weeks I had been there. This night I felt a feeling of foreboding which turned into full blown anxiety and I was restless as all H**L. I did not want to roll over for the life of me(doing so would take my view from looking out the window to facing the other bunks in the room and the main hall of the dorm. I am on the top bunk and all but the bottom bunk next to me are occupied with sleeping trainees. I pep talk myself into rolling over and at this point my body actually hurts from my positioning. I roll over and nothing is there,so I relax and start to fade out but before I can fall out completely I hear rubbery like footsteps in the hall. This by itself does not mean anything because people walk through the halls all night but what was sigificant WAS the fact that a tall man in a suit walked right into the room I was in and sat at the foot of the empty bunk facing me and appeared to be doing paperwork, I wanted to look away but also wanted to keep my eye on him too.Now there is no reason anyone, let alone a man in a suit(everyone there wears uniforms)would enter a females room unannounced, especially at night. He was there no more than a minute or so but did not leave as quietly as he came, the metal lockers banged and the towels that hang on our bunks all somehow fell to the floor.
I later learned of a Dr. Willard whom the place was named for but don't believe he lived long enough to see the facility open. Also upon speaking to people that work there I heard the the Sgts. who had their own quarters on site will no longer stay in the building(this was briefly touched on in the show). Several had encounters with mystery phone ringings and even the phone flying off the desks. The staff are mostly military "tough guys" and not likely prone to hysteria of that sort but very clearly had legitimate emotion when recounting their experiences.
I myself was very shaken by the incident and had all negative feelings. I felt like he was angry at me,disappointed almost and that I would be receiving repercussions for whatever he felt I had done.
The next few days I felt closely followed, things were constantly moved on me and my dreams were awful. I did not feel relief until I went to religous services and prayed with the Priest, and that only brought some relief, I felt as if my breathing was restricted until the day I left which was a few weeks later. I have looked for info on particular wayward doctors but havent come up with anything. I know there were alot of cruel inhumane practices back than and refuse to believe that the uneducated people who performed these "treatments" didn't have some idea that they were hindering and not helping their patients. Over the years I have had several dreams and uncomfortable feelings that I attribute to my time spent there but they are waning in frequency over time and I hope one day they will just stop altogether.
Posted 09 July 2011 - 11:56 AM
I don't doubt there are ghosts at the Willard Asylum, just like I don't doubt there are ghosts anyplace a large number of people lived and died. But if I may, I'd like to address the idea that such places as the Willard Asylum must naturally be haunted because of what terrible places they were. Now, they are not anyplace that I would want to live, but if I were living in America in the 1860's, I would prefer an Asylum to the alternative. If it wasn't for modern psyciatric treatments and drugs, I'd be in one of those places today.
In the 1700's and the early to mid 1800's if you were mentally ill and had someone who could support you, or could support yourself in any way then no one bothered with you one way or the other. You might not get care, but you didn't get punished either. It was only if you could not support yourself one way or the other that you had a problem. Being poor was not a crime, being homeless and indigent was.
Workhouses, Almshouses, Poorhouses -- these were not homeless shelters, charitable establishments like now days, nor were they job training centers. They were penal institutions just like jails and prisons, and they were under local jurisdiction, no central authority to rule how the inmates should be treated. No one went to the poorhouse voluntarily, you were sentenced by a judge to incarceration in the workhouse.
If one was not mentally ill, or only mildly mentally ill, then eventually your sentence would end, and hopefull you would at least be able to afford a bed in a flop house somewhere, but if you were retarded, mentally ill, epileptic or had other neurological disease, the likely you would spend your life in a penal institution. These places are where you would find the mentally ill in chains, in cages, being beaten etc. There were also starting a move toward private institutions for those with money, but they were totally unregulated, and subject to no oversite.
Around the 2nd half of the 18th century certain reforms were proposed, where the State governments would take over the care of the Chronically Insane. They started building large dormitory type buildings, with the idea of giving care to those who could not care for themselves. They were called Asylums, because they were to be places of sanctuary and refuge. Willard Asylum was one of those new facilities, Spring Grove in Maryland was another. Their really was still no effective treatment but the idea was to care for and not punish those who had mental illness, or retardation or tourettes, etc.
The first patient at Willard Asylum was a woman who had spent the last 10 years naked, starving and in chains. Patients admitted the first day at Spring Grove were naked, dirty, starved, sick, scared, and in shackles. Within hours they were being bathed, fed, treated, soothed and cared for. Yes there were isolation rooms, and restraints, usually leather, not chains, and only to the extent necessary to protect both the patient and the staff. They were State funded, and State regulated. Yes some of the "treatments" they tried sound really horrific, but it was all they had, and they were not done at random with the intention of causing pain. If a treatment was found to be minimally effective with the least amount of suffering, then the treatments were continued to be use, if they caused pain for no reason they were discarded. And at least one of the treatments is still used in some cases today, and it's not quiet as bad as it sounds.
Spring Grove is now used for Archeival storage of State government records. I've been there a million times when I worked handling State files. It's definetly spooky, but then most large empty buildings seem that way to me, even the old abandoned department store that the State rented for office space. But it's not a horrible place, with angry ghosts all over the place either. There are a few ghosts about the place, (which I will not discuss, because I do not want to encourage ghost hunters to tramp all over a building full of confidential files) but there is a ghost or two at the last retail store I worked at too. But by my definition a ghost or two is not the same as being "A HAUNTED BUILDING". The ghosts are more because of who the individual was, not what the building was used for.
End of History
I have Tourettes, and bi-polar disorder. If I had been alive in the 1850's - 1880's there is a chance I would have been in a workhouse. If I had managed to live long enough I would have been transferred to Spring Grove. If I had died at Spring Grove, I may have haunted the place, but not because it was a bad place, but because it may have been the closest I came to being happy in my life.
So basically I do believe there are ghosts at the Willard Asylum, but I don't think its' a haunted house.
Edited by Judecat, 09 July 2011 - 12:00 PM.
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