You might not initially realize it, but New York is actually quite the creepy state. From haunted hotels that require you to sign a waiver to abandoned cemeteries that may possibly be the gates to hell, there’s plenty of frightening locations hiding in plain sight. Some chilling places may only be backed by stories that were clearly concocted by locals just to scare visitors off, but some destinations within the Empire State actually have truly upsetting histories that will quickly grab your attention.
Ready to discover one more hair-raising spot? Then listen in closely as we tell you about the history of this one historic insane asylum.
Right within one of New York's largest cities, some of our residents may not know that Utica is home to New York's first state-run facility for those who were mentally ill.
First known as the New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica, the original design for the hospital was made up of four identical buildings that featured a central courtyard. Unfortunately after the construction was completed for the first building, funds for the operation were cut and none of the other buildings were built.
Opening its doors for the first time in 1843, the asylum quickly found all of its beds filled with patients and was in need of more space.
The beautifully constructed Greek revival structure featured six large collumns that stand at nearly 50 feet tall. It was quickly decided that two wings would be added onto the sides of the original building, completed in 1846 and 1850.
Known by many as Old Main for short, the Utica Lunatic Asylum saw its fair share of troubles over the course of its history.
Sadly like so many of America's earliest hospitals for the mentally ill, upsetting procedures were practiced on patients. Utica's asylum was said to have staff members that performed lobotomies and electroshock therapy quite regularly on patients. Over the years, stories of horrid living conditions were told, with many claiming that the patients who resided here received hardly any care and were left confined in small quarters.
Part of an upsetting series of events, in 1852 the asylum's first floor stairway caught on fire and left two dead.
In 1852, the asylum's first floor stairway caught on fire. Unfortunately while attempting to salvage certain items from the building, a doctor and a firefighter were killed during the process. In a strange twist of events, four days later, a barn on the asylum's property caught on fire. If you're thinking there's no way this was a coincidence, you're thinking correct. Eventually a man by the name of William Spiers would come forward and confess to setting both of the fires because he was upset with one of the asylum's supervisors. Spiers was a former patient of Utica Lunatic Asylum who was a convicted arsonist and would even occasionally work in the building.
But the most chilling part of the asylum's history is the fact that this is where the Utica Crib was created.
Never heard of the Utica Crib before? Then consider yourself fortunate. The asylum's first director Dr. Amariah Brigham was the creator of the horrifying Utica Crib. The Utica Crib was a long and shallow caged bed where staff would put unruly patients in to attempt to punish them as well as use the cribs as a space to put agitated patients that needed to calm down. Birgham reportedly created the crib as an alternative to using chain restraints on patients, but not everyone saw this device as something so innocent. Many saw the crib as something horrendous and barbaric, while others felt it was a suitable form of treatment that kept patients from harming themselves and others.
Closed since 1973, the abandoned building still stands in Utica today and is claimed by many to be haunted.
Those who have been brave enough to explore the abandoned halls of Utica's Lunatic Asylum share stories of hearing chilling screams. Others who have only ever taken in the haunting sight of the building from the outside claim to have seen faces in the windows of people that were once patients here.
While you'll find that the asylum is off limits, we can only hope that more tours of this building will be put together this year! Last summer the government was able to host schedule ghost tours that drew in crows from all over. From locals to fascinated out-of-towners, people come to take a peak inside of this historic building where many claim the victims of twisted medical procedures still haunt the halls today.