Nov. 16, 2021

A New Haunt Has Arrived: The Indiana State Sanatorium By Courtney Eastman

A New Haunt Has Arrived: The Indiana State Sanatorium By Courtney Eastman

Secluded on the outskirts of Rockville, Indiana stands an ominous 110-year-old tuberculous sanatorium that has been gaining quite the reputation in the paranormal field. What had once been an active medical facility merely ten years ago, the Indiana State Sanatorium now resides as an eerie ghost town of its former self with a haunting to match. While it hasn’t been formally introduced into the paranormal world through our television screens just yet, the brand-new haunt has been welcoming in paranormal investigators and curious minds alike since the Spring of 2021. Hoping to experience firsthand for themselves what strange instances happen within these brick and mortar walls that once held so much life. 

In late August of this year, I had been fortunate to have the opportunity to spend an entire weekend on the Indiana State Sanatorium grounds. For two entire days, we’d be spending our time investigating the virtually untouched buildings that left those brave enough to step inside believe that it still house’s the spirits of its past. Not only that, but we also had been lucky enough to be added to the list as some of the first few teams to investigate this new haunt that’s going to dominate the paranormal field in years to come. And while I had gone into the weekend with an open mind, no expectations, and blind to the majority of the tragic and dark history these buildings gained over the years, I found myself leaving the sanatorium grounds with a handful of experiences and evidence that simply can not be explained. 

The Indiana State Sanatorium had been the first and only tuberculosis hospital for Indiana. In 1907, the state had sought out 500 acres of property to construct a hospital in hopes to aid the raging tuberculous epidemic. Narrowing it down to land three miles east of Rockville, construction began on the hospital. After building the self-sufficient grounds, the sanatorium had opened its doors to patients four years later in 1911. Since there had been no cure or information on how to aid their patients, doctors and nurses resorted to sunlight and fresh air for the mild cases of tuberculosis. While in severe cases of this respiratory disease, sections of ribs and lungs would be removed in hopes to bring comfort and healing. Unfortunately, as trials and errors were made through the years, the hospital grounds saw just as much death as it did life. However, after nearly 45 years in operation, the Indiana Tuberculosis State Hospital had seen a pleasant decline in services as a cure for the horrid disease was discovered in the 1950s.

With the tuberculosis epidemic officially coming to an end, the grounds of the Indiana State Sanatorium changed from being full of life to complete silence. After sitting vacant for a few years and having a few modifications done, the hospital had found a new life within the medical field once again. It had been resurrected into a nursing home for the mentally and physically disabled before later taking on patients from a nearby closing mental health facility. Over the years it remained in operation, the Adams Hall Admission psych building, and the Lee Alan Bryant Healthcare Center catered to their patient’s needs. However, they would ultimately fall victim to the tragic trends that seem to repeat themselves within the mental health history. Low funding, lower staffing with a high turnover rate, and overcrowding of patients would bring on the demise of the facilities, resulting in some tragic endings for its patients. Unfortunately, the tragedies that would haunt these two buildings’ era on these grounds had only just begun. 

Throughout the 2000s, the reputation held by Lee Alan Bryant Healthcare Center had started to head south. After a report of a missing patient being found in the creek three days after the disappearance had gotten out, all eyes had been on the healthcare facility. Becoming under fire from the community it served, the state had been forced to look into the background of the healthcare center and sadly found more negligence in all forms. Lawsuits and multiple severe violations against the hospital and its nursing staff had begun to stack up, painting a grim picture for the future of Lee Alan Bryant Healthcare. But what happened in the summer of 2009 to help seal the fate of the building, no one saw coming. On a seemingly average Saturday afternoon, an employee for Lee Alan Bryant Healthcare arrived for his shift. After clocking in, he had walked into the maintenance building and opened fire on a co-worker. Leaving him for dead next to a workbench with a gunshot to the chest, the employee had then walked into the boiler room where he had taken his own life in what police determined to be a drug-related murder-suicide. 

After the tragedy rocked the small town of Rockville, the state determined that there was no better option than to close down the problematic healthcare center. Slowly throughout the remaining two years of operation, patients and employees found themselves getting transferred across the state to other facilities that would take them in. With the last patient becoming discharged in 2011, the doors to the Lee Alan Bryant Healthcare Center had been closed for the last time, leaving the inside to be eerily preserved as if they were all returning for a shift the next day. But that next day would never come. The grounds would sit abandoned for ten years, becoming reclaimed by nature and forgotten with the times. That was until Gregg Larson stepped on the old hospital grounds and witnessed the potential and beauty that these buildings held. Once the deal on becoming the new owner for the property had been closed in December of 2020, Larson had gotten to work on ushering in a new era for the Indiana State Sanatorium grounds. Perhaps, the most haunting one yet. 

Approaching the sanatorium grounds on that late August night, filled with wonder and excitement from a nine-hour drive, myself and two friends had been met with the ominous buildings set back from the main road. It was hard to not picture the start of a horror movie as we drove along the dirt roads, catching headlight illuminated glimpses of what awaited. The moment we had stepped inside, the eerie stillness that the building held could be felt. It was as if the building had been frozen in time from that last day of operation in 2011. Trays with cups had been left on every table in the dining halls. Hospital gowns were folded neatly and stacked high in the linen room. Bulletins were still posted on the window of the nurse’s station, while hundreds of patient files were left in boxes taking up every inch of space on the freezer’s shelves down in the morgue. Our curious minds began to explore, and quickly we began to realize that we weren’t quite alone in our walk-through of the main building. 

Noises and strange feelings of someone behind us had begun to follow the group of us down the hallway, almost sounding as if we had a phantom joining our exploration. Though, no matter how many times I had glanced over my shoulder, all I had seen was the darkness of the night that engulfed the hallway. We had paused outside of the admin wing doorway to ponder our next move as we tried steering clear of the bats. That had been until the sound of a muffled voice and footsteps could be heard coming from the second floor. Leaving myself and the guide we had behind in the hallway, the two friends I had been with took their chance to explore what the noises we heard were. Armed with flashlights, their phone on Instagram Live, and a digital recorder, they held a small EVP session, hoping to get answers to who we had heard. Playing back the recording, we didn’t hear a confession as to who we all heard, but rather a faintly whispered warning from a voice that belonged to no one. 

“You better be careful.” 

With the warning taken in stride, we finished the rest of the night’s tour around the grounds. We had made our way into the infamous maintenance building and came across the discovery of a room filled with old patient suitcases and personal belongings that had been left or taken from them. We had also toured the doctor’s mansion that had been on-site, but we ended up walking away with nothing out of the ordinary happening. As it was nearing four in the morning, we made our way towards the commercial building that we’d be calling home, completely unaware of the history that the seemingly modern building carried. The building we would be staying in resides directly on top of the old foundation that once held the children’s wing from the sanatorium days. Not only that, but the guide on-site also has seen the little spirits of those who are left behind running around the halls, letting their voices be known, and even messing with some unexpected company they might have. And I believe that night, I had become the chosen one for them to mess with while I tried sleeping. 

Tossing and turning within those pre-dawn hours, I heard a loud knock against the wall of my bedroom. Dismissing the noise away the best that I could, I tried to force myself to get some sleep, but it was to no avail. Each time I had closed my eyes, I could feel a faint tug on my sleeping bag, followed by the sensation of it starting to slide off the bed. However, it had been nowhere near the edge of the bed. Looking back on that sleepless night in Indiana, unable to explain away the phantom hands that played with my covers, I remember thinking that if we were experiencing all this on just the first night of being here, then what could we possibly be in for this weekend. And the guesses that I could come up with didn’t even come close to what we’d encounter over our two days investigating until the sun came up. 

Over the next two days, we’d witness the building come to life in many ways. No matter the time of day, activity seemed to happen to those who dare walk through those halls poking around to see who still resides. During the day, a door was heard slamming behind us as we walked out of a room on the fifth floor of the psychiatric side to the healthcare center. Later that same night, two floors down, I’d have a door I was holding shut be slowly opened on me as if someone was checking in on the room myself and three other women were standing in. However, no one had been on the other side of the threshold. Intercom and heart monitor sounds could be heard, even though there were no power sources or monitors left in the rooms. Shadow figures made themselves known in the nursing home hallways, moving across the halls as they blocked out ambient light shining through the small window in the emergency exit door. Phantom lights as bright as flashlights shone around into rooms as if it was someone exploring, but then disappearing without a trace as if no one was around. Even the screaming voice had been recorded on a voice-activated recorder we had left completely alone in a room three floors up for five minutes. Not to mention, disembodied voices could be heard throughout the hospital in various volumes—-and frightening enough, one was even heard in the car with us as we drove away from the main building! 

While there may not be a whole lot known about Indiana State Sanatorium in terms of its paranormal activity, there’s no doubt in my mind that something unusual is happening within the buildings. What that may be and why they’re still there I suppose that will come out through the next few months or even years as paranormal investigators flock to these grounds in hopes to find the answers we’re all waiting for. With the potential that it has to become a contender next to the infamous Waverly Hills, I wouldn’t be shocked if this haunt becomes a household name in the paranormal field within the next few years. 

It has been nearly three months since this investigation had taken place and I’d be lying if I said there hasn't been a day that goes by where it doesn’t cross my mind. The strange occurrences that had happened that weekend still plays clearly in my head as I still try to wrap my mind around what I had heard and seen in those two days. The whole experience of emerging myself into a place that’s barely been touched in the paranormal world still feels like a fever dream and is an opportunity I’ll be forever grateful for. 

Though until the next time I found my way to those grounds, I'll be wondering just what the spirits of Indiana State Sanatorium are up to, the stories they carry with them, and just how they're liking all their new company…

Reel of EVP Link

Credit : Cryptids and Crystals

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