Though it served different purposes throughout the years, the Nevada County Hospital was built in 1860 to care for the indigent sick of Nevada City, a Gold Rush boomtown deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Like many mining towns in the area, Nevada City’s population and needs changed with the industry, and the hospital underwent many revisions, serving as a morgue, poor house, general hospital, housing for low-risk inmates, welfare office, and finally as the Behavioral Health clinic with out-patient offices.
It was in this final incarnation that the hospital served as the setting for a tragic 2001 shooting that shook the community- a mental health out-patient suffering delusions opened fire in the facility, killing two employees. He then drove to a nearby restaurant, killed the manager and wounded the cook. Despite the killing spree the hospital remained open until 2006, when the county moved their offices to a new location.
The 152 year-old hospital site has now been sitting abandoned for years as the county decides on its historical status, and whether the building itself is too toxic to inhabit. Brave explorers are now the only visitors to its water-stained hallways, poking through left behind paperwork and daring each other to enter the spooky boiler room. The murders prompted “Laura’s Law”, a California law allowing court-ordered out-patient treatment for the mentally ill showing signs of potential violence. It was named after Laura Wilcox, a 19 year-old receptionist killed in the massacre.