Old Asylums as Haunted Houses?

Julie Ballantyne Brown
4 min readOct 2, 2023

A hard no out of respect for the dead.

Photo by Blogging Guide on Unsplash

It’s spooky season again. The veil thins, the decorations come out, and it seems like most people are celebrating my favorite things: ghosts, witches, and everything supernatural.

Something that people like to do this time of year is to visit haunted houses. I did it when I was younger, but haven’t for many years. I’m not a fan of jump scares but don’t begrudge anyone who enjoys it. It can be fun to be scared sometimes, when we know it’s not real. All of the movie monsters popping out, the fake blood, the depiction of our worst fears can be somewhat cathartic when we know that nothing will actually hurt us and we’ll be safe ouside in a few minutes.

I have no problem with haunted houses. You do you, Boo. I do, however, have an issue with making a haunted house in an abandoned mental asylum.

There’s a famous haunted mental asylum near me, the Eloise Psychiatric Hospital in Westland, Michigan. Built in 1839, it housed the former residents from the Wayne County Poorhouse but soon expanded into a self-sufficient institution including a working farm, police, and fire departments. Its population soared to more that 10,000 during The Great Depression. The most famous patient of note would be Elijah McCoy, a Black Canadian-American whose remarkable inventions coined the phrase, “the real McCoy”.

Regardless of the modern innovations and good intentions, Eloise employed ‘theraputic’ techniques that would be considered barbaric today, including shock therapy and hydrotherapy. It was a place to put people to forget about them, people who were afflicted with a variety of psychiatric and mental issues. While some people found a safe place there, others found it a hellish existence, whether it was due to their psychosis or the treatment they received. The hospital closed for good in 1986 and has gone through several metamorphoses since.

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Julie Ballantyne Brown

Future London resident. Follow Julie on Twitter: @BrownBallantyne or on FB and Instagram: @JulieBallantyneBrown