Steps echo along abandoned corridors while broken glass crunches underfoot. Welcome to Michigan’s abandoned – and ultra-creepy – Northville Psychiatric Hospital. Enter if you dare.
In one room rows of vacant chairs sit waiting for an audience that will never arrive. In another space, meanwhile, an empty swimming pool bears the sinister legend “666.”
This is Northville Psychiatric Hospital – a place whose interior is as eerie as its facade is forbidding. And today it stands empty and silent but for the ghosts of its past. It wasn’t always this way, however.
In the 1940s officials decided that southeast Michigan needed a new psychiatric hospital. So it was that a site was chosen in Northville, a city in the sprawling suburbs of Detroit.
By 1952 the new hospital was complete. With 20 buildings spread over 453 acres, the facility was at the time regarded as one of the finest of its kind in the U.S.
Housing a number of wards, the hospital catered for patients with a range of psychological problems. Meanwhile, an eight-story tower formed the centerpiece of the complex.
Strangely, perhaps, within the grounds were amenities that seemed more in keeping with a luxury resort. In addition to the on-site bowling alley and swimming pool was a gymnasium and a movie theater.
When it opened the hospital proudly offered some of the best care around. Music and art were used in pioneering treatments, with patients given the opportunity to study drama, learn to play instruments and work in the grounds.
By the time the ’70s rolled around, however, things began to change. Yes, by then the use of medication to treat mental health patients had become more commonplace, so budgets for facilities like Northville were slashed.
Then, when other local hospitals were forced to close, Northville took in more patients than it could handle. Doctors suddenly had to find room to treat more than 1,000 individuals at a time.
Designed to accommodate 650 inpatients, the facility just couldn’t cope. Temporary beds were brought in to ease the situation, with mentally ill patients forced to sleep in the gymnasium or bowling alley.
Come the 1980s Northville’s situation went from bad to worse. Funding cuts meant that creative therapies such as music and art were abandoned, with doctors having to focus almost solely on psychiatric medications.
In 1983 The Detroit News ran a series of features exposing the poor conditions at Northville. Reporters claimed that patients – who had little to do except watch TV and chain smoke – were left to sleep in hallways.
The same reports also alleged that patients had been raped and assaulted at the facility, while others had reportedly died following altercations with staff. In 2002 one former patient was awarded $535,000 after winning a negligence and malpractice case.
Urban exploration site Detroiturbex.com quoted a former Northville nurse as saying that conditions at the hospital were especially tough. “People are not treated at Northville,” she wrote, “they are warehoused.”
Throughout the ’90s the state closed yet more hospitals, with patients moved to nearby community facilities in order to save money. Hence, by the end of the decade Northville was one of the only psychiatric hospitals left in Michigan.
The hospital’s own fate, though, was sealed in 2002 when the state confirmed its intention to close it for good. Plans were made to transfer Northville’s patients to alternative facilities, and the property was put up for sale.
The story of Northville didn’t, however, end there. One by one enthusiastic buyers purchased the site, only to have their plans thwarted by the presence of everything from arsenic to asbestos.
Although demolition work by the current owners partially began in 2012, the majority of Northville’s buildings remain just as they always were. And for some brave souls the spooky site proves too tempting to ignore.
Despite authorities taking a dim view of trespassing, urban explorers from around the world have flocked to capture the abandoned hospital in all its haunting glory. Yet, looking at these amazing photographs, it’s easy to see why some are willing to take the risk.