Athens Lunatic Asylum opened in 1874 on 141 acres and it was designed for 500 patients. By the 1950s it had expanded to a facility with 78 buildings on 1,000 acres, treating over 1,800 patients.
At one time it was the largest employer in the state of Ohio. However, it was the patients who worked the grounds. That is, until catatonic drugs became common. Archives on the asylum show that hydrotherapy, electroshock therapy, lobotomies, and psychotropic drugs were all used as treatments.
The hospital closed in 1993. Most of the original buildings were renovated by Ohio University and today they are used as a medical facility. The remains of over 1,900 of the asylum’s original patients remain in the original Athens Lunatic Asylum cemetery on the college campus.