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The Ridges

The Ridges, Athens Asylum
Athens, Ohio 45701
Phone: 740-592-2280
The Ridges
The Ridges, formerly called the Athens Lunatic Asylum, was a mental hospital operated in Athens, Ohio from 1874 until 1993. During its operation, the hospital provided services to a variety of patients including Civil War veterans, children, and violent criminals suffering from various mental disabilities. Today, the Ridges are a part of Ohio University and house the Kennedy Museum of Art, an auditorium and many offices, classrooms, and storage facilities. The Athens Lunatic asylum consists of Adams, Athens, Gallia, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton and Washington counties. The land was purchased from Coates farm who had originally owned the land for over six years before the hospital was built.

The Cemeteries at the Ridges are full of history and mystery. There are 1,930 people buried at the three cemeteries located at the Ridges. Of those, 700 women and 959 men lay under the headstones marked only with a number. There were some patients who had died that were reunited with their families and buried in cemeteries around their homes. By 1943, the State of Ohio began putting names, births, and deaths, on the markers of the patients who died. It is unknown as to why the state switched from using only numbers to using names in order to verify who the deceased were, but this practice remained constant through the remainder of time that patients were buried up at the asylum. Although the newer stones had names, births, and deaths, the older stones that remained had not been replaced until recently.

The Dairy Barn Southeastern Ohio Cultural Arts Center, a nonprofit arts organization, is located in the old hospital's remodeled dairy barn; it is privately owned and operated. The Dairy Barn Arts Center has many arts and community events and exhibits.

Members of the Athens, Ohio chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, have worked to restore the three graveyards located on the grounds of The Ridges. School organizations provide tours of the facility around Halloween time each year. The preserve is also regularly used by the school's Army ROTC battalion.

The George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is also located at The Ridges, in a set of three separate buildings across the area.

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