Central State Hospital has a very interesting history. Every article tells a different story about the massive hospital located in Milledgeville, GA. Today, many of the buildings stand empty, no trespassing signs near every entrance warning visitors of unsafe buildings. Only a small part of the hospital is still in use today.
Central State Hospital has a very dark and grim history, filled with funding problems leading to a lack of Doctors to take care of patients, and rumors of patient abuse. Inhumane medical practices used to help patients or just to keep them in line, ranged from insulin shock, lobotomies, shock therapy, and keeping children in metal cages. Of course, some of these practices where cutting edge at the time.
Central State Hospital’s first building opened in 1842 as a Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum. Since then it has been known by many other names including, Georgia State Sanitarium and Milledgeville State Hospital. No matter the name, the hospital has always been a talking point of Milledgeville, GA.
Dr. David Cooper was appointed as the first superintendent and shortly after imposed the idea of “institution as family” idea. This encouraged the patients to work around the hospital, giving them a sense of purpose. The hospital thrived under this principle, particularly under Dr. Thomas A Green, appointed as the second superintendent in 1845.
During the Civil War the hospital was spared during Sherman’s march to the sea, at least spared of being burnt. The Civil War itself took a toll on the hospital. The able-bodied staff were off to war, finances where being sent to troops, and there was an influx of patients including troops who were wounded and mentally exhausted, who would likely never return home again.
The hospital soon became a place for families to send the “unwanted.” Family members with mental disabilities, criminals, alcoholics, or those with other problems misunderstood in general. This thought process lead to an ever-increasing number of patients
With staffing already an issue due to lack of funds, patient care started to decline. Nurses and doctors were simply unable to keep up with the demands of the hospital. Those weren’t the only problem for the hospital. The buildings were starting to deteriorate and needed repairs, if not the need to be rebuilt altogether.
Soon, a train station was built on the grounds of the hospital, giving patients easier access to the hospital, or easier access for patient families to drop them off. This did not lend any help to the patient/ doctor ratio. There were even reports that patients were helping treat other patients. This also furthered the need for an increase in funding.
Thankfully, many patients were eventually able to be released due to an improvement in diagnosing and the use of drugs to help medicate. Others were able to work on the farm located on the property, giving them life skills in the event of their release.
One building of interest is the Jones building. In operation from 1928 to 1979, the building served as a public hospital. According to the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority, the building served as a general medical-surgical hospital, where employees, patients, and the general public had their children, as it was the only hospital in Milledgeville at the time.
The Jones building is associated with a long list of horror stories, which may lead to why many believe the building is now haunted. The stories range from the patient abuse noted throughout the hospital to a nurse giving a Cesarian to a woman with no trained doctor on scene. Many other horror stories have been documented throughout the years, many played off as rumors but, with so many, can they all really be rumors?
The hospital has gotten a lot of praise in its life span, as well as, criticism. One of the biggest points of criticism- other than its patient care- is the hospitals care of its dead.
When you research deaths at Central State Hospital, you get a wide variety of things, ranging from patients missing and presumed dead, patients killed by other patients, and suspicious deaths. Most of the patients that perished while at the hospital were laid to rest at Cedar Lane cemetery.
Each person was given a number to correspond with a metal marker place on their gravesite. Eventually, most of these markers were pulled up and tossed aside to make grounds work easier. This left numerous graves unmarked, and soon forgotten, an even worse fate then being remembered as only a number.
In 1997, restoration on the cemetery began, given hope to restore the memory and dignity of all buried on site. A bronze angel was soon placed to serve as a guardian, in hopes to keep the memory of each forgotten patient alive.
The hospital and its grounds have some amazing history. It seems as though official history would like to keep it in good light as much as possible. Personal accounts give a much darker light on history, leading one to wonder what other stories where never reported?
Leave us a comment below if you have any stories from Central State, we love to read them, and would love to see any picture you may have of the hospital in operation.
Disclaimer- these photos were taken without trespassing from public roads and sidewalks, with the exception of one taken on a side road, we were not allowed to be on. Security was on us like white on rice. So please don’t trespass and risk getting caught, you will be arrested, your vehicle will be towed, and you will be fined. It’s really not worth it. However, if anyone finds a legitimate way in…TAKE US WITH YOU!