Old Tuberculosis Ward Building The Ridges To Be Torn Down

By
Caleigh Bourgeois

Dateline
Updated Tue, Sep 25, 2012 3:30 pm

The stories that lie behind the walls of the building, which is a part of what was an asylum for the insane, are the stuff of legend for residents of Athens and students at Ohio University.

But soon, the building itself will be nothing but legend, as Ohio University plans to demolish the former Tuberculosis Ward at the Ridges.

Its architecture is different from the other buildings at The Ridges, and that architecture is just one reason the plan to tear the structure down came as a shock and dissapointment to those who treasure it.

"I was very upset with the fact that someone was talking about tearing down this building. It has such a marvelous history and a history that's important," said Lynne Newell, a volunteer at the Athens Historical Society and Museum.

Today, The Ridges is used as administrative buildings for Ohio University, with the exception of the former TB ward, which was last used as a special education center called the Beacon School.

Former Asylum employee George Eberts remembers the building as the Beacon School, when the Ridges was still a mental hospital.

"Beacon was just one little wing of this building. And the rest of it was abandoned by mental health it was the old TB Ward," said Eberts.

So why destroy it?

Ohio University leaders say it will be demolished as part of the University's Capital Improvement Plan, a twenty-year effort first approved in 2007 by university trustees.

It consists of improvements to many facilities around campus using borrowed money, general funds and some state support.

Members of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum wish to partner with the university to alternatives to tearing it down, but are crunched for time.

The university hopes to remove the structure before Halloween, the same night that Ohio University student Anthony Meyo claims he and a few friends snuck into the building in 2008.

"We kind of just adventured around the whole building and felt the energy of it," said Meyo.

The problem? That's illegal.

The abandoned building is allegedly full of asbestos, which is why the building has been closed.

But, if his story is true, Anthony hasn't been the only one to try.

More than half the arrests at the Ridges Area by the Ohio University Police Department since 2007 have been because of prowling and trespassing.

Vandalism is also an issue.

The walls outside and inside are covered in graffiti.

The windows, broken, and even the cement cracked.

However, many trespassers are willing to risk the danger, for the excitement of getting inside a building many say is occupied by ghosts.

But history tells us the truth: that the halls inside of the building were occupied by real people; adults and children suffering from mental disorders.

Eberts says he understands the university's reasoning for its demolition plan, but is still is sad to see the building, so familiar to him, fall forever.

"It breaks my heart to see it this poorly maintained and it'll break my heart to see it gone but, you know, time keeps marching on," said Eberts.

And it does. If everything goes as planned, the structure will be gone by Halloween.

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