Top 9 Haunted Asylums in the United States

Although considered places of refuge, asylums were often used by society past as a place to leave their sick and troubled individuals, a way to hide the mentally and physically challenged away from prying eyes and judgmental colleagues. Unfortunately, once these people were dropped off on the steps of these supposed havens, they were generally forgotten, and what went on behind the brick and stone walls of these behemoth buildings was basically unmonitored, making them perfect places for doctors and scientists to test out their newest procedures or for staff to get out their frustrations, all above about the prying eyes of the law and under the guise of healing. In places where many humans have suffered and died, the psychic imprint of those tortured souls can sometimes leave a mark that lasts for centuries, beings forever trapped in their own personal hell. Here is PopHorror’s top nine list of the most famously haunted asylums in the United States.

9. New Hampshire State Hospital, Concord, NH

Built in 1842, the staff of the New Hampshire State Hospital was a firm believer in eugenics, with 672 people (90% of them women) being forcibly sterilized for being mentally ill, mentally deficient or having epilepsy between the years of 1910 and 1959. Although this is relatively tame compared to the horrors inflicted by some of the other institutions, a fair number of souls couldn’t rest after this violation, and reports of echoing footsteps, papers being pushed off of tables, cold spots, self-running elevators and a feeling of being watched. The building is still used as a hospital to this day under the name New Hampshire Hospital.

8. Plymouth County Hospital, Hanson, MA

Also known as Cranberry Specialty Hospital, Plymouth County Hospital was built in 1919 and managed to stay functioning for close to 100 years, despite changing from being a tuberculosis ward, a hospice and a general hospital. The facility was known for its eclectic Mediterranean Revival architecture and state of the art heating system.

Visitors have reported hearing strange noises at this haunted asylum, disembodies whispers, eerie screams, laughter and music within the hospital’s walls, along with a feeling of malaise and unease. EMF readings have been recorded, even though there is no electricity turned on in the building. Video cameras and other equipment shut off on their own at random times and floating orbs have been photographed. Closed in 1992, most of the building is condemned, although the Plymouth County Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the UMass 4H and the Hanson Food Pantry still use the facility’s Annex.

7. Rolling Hills Asylum, East Bethany, NY

In 1821, Rolling Hills Asylum was built as a poorhouse for paupers and widows that also took in drunkards, lunatics and vagrants. Close to 2,000 people were reported to have died while living on the property and were buried onsite, although the remains of the cemetery has disappeared and then reappeared several times over the years. Andrew Michel, the man suspected of the unsolved Linden Murders, once lived at Rolling Hills.

During their scheduled overnight Ghost Hunts, tour guides and investigators have reported squeaking wheelchairs, ghostly mists, an organ playing by itself, creepy EVPs and the ghostly apparition of Roy Crouse, a 7-1/2’ giant who died at this haunted Asylum.

6. Norwich State Hospital for the Insane, Preston, CT

Opening its single building doors in 1904, Norwich State Hospital was built as housing for the mentally ill and criminally insane, along with geriatric, drug addicted and tubercular patients. Tragedies such as a hot water heater explosion, a hit-and-run, suicides and unfortunate treatment outcomes, along with staff abuse plagued the hospital. Another institution with underground tunnels to connect the newer buildings, it was no wonder that this hospital retained some of the deranged souls that had called this place home over its 90-year reign.

Rumored to be built on an Indian burial ground, security guards patrolling the grounds have reported hearing disembodied voices talking, mumbling, sobbing and screaming, beeping coming from the rooms where the lobotomies were previously performed and felt unexplainable cold in certain rooms. Don’t bother trying to visit, though. The building was bought from the state by the town of Preston for $1 and was razed in 2015.

5. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, WV

Like many of the sanitariums built in the 19th century, Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was self-sufficient with its own farm, dairy and waterworks located onsite, giving no one a chance to stumble across what was going on there. Once used as a Civil War military base, the institution was officially opened in 1864 and was outfitted for 250 people, although at one time in the ‘50s, the grounds held ten times that many. To ease the strain on the understaffed crew, patients were locked in cages, chained to beds and walls and lobotomized with dirty icepicks. Infamous cult leader Charles Manson was once held here before the asylum was forcibly closed down in 1994.

The campus now offers overnight Ghost Hunt tours throughout most of the year, and investigators have experienced the ghost of the violent, deranged patient Ruth and have seen uniformed Civil War soldier ghosts patrolling the grounds. When not being besieged by paranormal investigators, the grounds of this haunted asylum are used for events like Easter egg hunts and church revivals.

4. Pennhurst Asylum, East Vincent, PA

Originally known as Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic, Pennhurst Asylum opened its doors in 1908, its 30+ buildings spread across 1,400 acres. By 1912, the institution was already overcrowded after pressure to admit immigrants, orphans and criminals, along with those who suffered from crossed eyes, hearing impairment, blindness, imperfect gait, the inability to grasp objects with their hands or offensive habits pressed the staff to their limits. The asylum’s officials considered all “feeble-minded” individuals to be potential criminals and treated them as if they had already committed crimes.

Ultimately closed in 1987 due to many things, including deplorable conditions and employees who not only mistreated patients but also forced them into fighting pits as entertainment, Pennhurst Asylum is rife with paranormal activity, including multiple EVPs, shadow people, metal objects being thrown and investigators being both scratched and pushed. The building has recently been renovated and turned into seasonal haunt Pennhurst Asylum Haunted House.

3. Taunton State Hospital, Taunton, Massachusetts

Massachusetts seems to be the place to go for haunted asylums. Established in 1854 as the State Lunatic Hospital at Taunton, the facility once housed sociopathic serial killer nurse Jane Toppan and is a place Lizzie Borden once called home. The staff employed all of the vogue psychiatric treatments of the day, including lobotomies, hot and cold water submersion hydrotherapy, electroshock therapy, insulin shock therapy (patients were forced into seizures and then comas by overdosing them on insulin) and shoe leather therapy, which was basically being kicked by orderlies.

The doctors and nurses who worked at Taunton State Hospital were rumored to have practiced more than just state approved psychiatric methods. It’s said that many of them took unwilling patients into the basement and used them to conduct satanic rituals, making the door to the basement a place of intense unease for anyone walking by there for the rest of the facility’s run. Whether because of these actions or not, reports of a shadow man who would crawl across the ceiling and walls, watching patients and doctors alike, abounded. The institution closed in 1975, and in 1999, the main dome of the administration building collapsed while a fire destroyed another large part of the complex in March of 2006. In 2009, the rest of this haunted asylum was bulldozed to the ground.

2. Waverly Hills Sanitarium, Louisville, KY

Originally built in 1910 as a tuberculosis ward, it is said that as many as 9,000 people died on the grounds of the Waverly Hills Sanitarium. Once dead, the patients were loaded into a body chute where they would slide down into the basement for disposal. Although apparently treated well by staff, this vast amount of painful death scorched the earth and created an apparent magnet for departed souls.

The building was only used for 50 years, but in that time, many earie things happened on the grounds, including a young, unmarried nurse who, it is said, found out she was pregnant by the owner of the sanitarium and either committed suicide or was murdered in room 502. She has been seen by investigators, along with another nurse who was pushed out of the window to her death, also from room 502. Numerous ghost hunting TV show crews have visited the “most haunted place on earth” and experienced the ghost of a boy who likes to bounce rubber balls, screams, ectoplasmic clouds, shadow people, room lights turning on without electricity, a ghostly hearse and attacks on the investigators themselves. The 2005 feature film Death Tunnel was based on the Waverly Hills Sanitarium. The new owners offer tours of this haunted asylum each Halloween, with proceeds going towards restoration.

  1. Danvers State Insane Asylum, Danvers, MA

Number one on our list, Danvers State Insane Asylum has a past whose truth is much stranger than fiction. Built in 1878 to house mentally unstable criminals, officials added the mentally handicapped, alcoholics and run-of-the-mill felons to its rosters without increasing staff, making for complete chaos where naked, feces-covered patients often died and their bodies were not found for days, sometimes lost in the sprawling tunnels hidden underground. When neurologist Walter Freeman offered up his new procedure called the transorbital lobotomy as a way to control the more violent of the patients, Danvers was the first institution to add this practice to the shock therapy and psychosurgery already in play, resulting in thousands of starved, terrified patients wandering the halls in a hellish daze.

Visitors to the Danvers State Insane Asylum are said to experience the skeletal, screaming, full bodied apparitions of past inmates, echoing footsteps, feelings of absolute despair, intense nausea and of being watched, both in the building itself and at the onsite cemetery. The batwing styled building is said to have inspired H.P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanitarium and was also the setting of the creepy horror film, Session 9. Last but not least, Danvers, Massachusetts used to be Salem Village. Yeah, that Salem. Although the building officially closed in 1992, the renovated grounds of this haunted asylum are available for touring every second and fourth Tuesday of the month.


There you have it, PopHorror’s top nine haunted asylums in the United States. Do you agree with our list? Do you have a haunted asylum or hospital in your neck of the woods? Post about it in the comments!

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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