October 28, 2018 at 9:52 am

Eberts Walked the Asylum Hallways in Search of Spirits…

(Editor’s note: The audio problem as George Eberts begins to talk is fixed as he goes on….)

“Having said there are no ghosts, I have to admit that I have a list of about 15 of them here,” said George Eberts, a long-time Athens Asylum employee, in the  fifth installment in the Athens Asylum Sesquicentennial Series.

The Ridges at night, silhouetted with holiday lights.

Eberts worked nights for about 20 years at the old asylum as the staff education specialist, and he said he had plenty of time to wander the grounds between education sessions on topics such as CPR.

But real  ghosts?

“I don’t happen to believe in that, but I had plenty of opportunities to see if I could scare them up. And they never came after me.”

Eberts, who was already serving as a tour guide at the facility, had access to the asylum buildings.

“When I’m bored, I’d go look for some trouble, and I knew I could find some in the abandoned closed-off parts of the building.

“I could sneak into the old parts of the building. It’s the middle of the night. I’m not supposed to be there…and I was begging for those spooks to come get me. I walked through those hallways just asking for them out loud. None of them ever did.

“I was disappointed in that. I came to believe that there aren’t any, or if there are they’re so lame that they run when they see me coming. And that’s pretty bad for any self-respecting spook at an old lunatic asylum.

“But I can’t deny that there have been many people whose spirit is with me still, and every time I walk on the grounds, I think of certain people, and the things they did in their lives, and the things they taught me are with me still.”

Eberts, who has been giving tours for about four decades, is still the volunteer coordinator of the Appalachian Behavioral Health Center, which is the current incarnation of the old asylum facility.

“It never closed down, just moved into another building. It still exists. It’s one of six state psychiatric hospitals. And today the state of Ohio public mental health system is known to be one of the best in the country,” Eberts said proudly, noting that at its formation, the original asylum was committed to moral treatment of patients, and contrary to rumors, patients were never restrained.

George Eberts, portrait in classroom

George Eberts

Eberts, who is also an astronomy assistant in Physics & Astronomy at Ohio University, has drawn on his years of experience to serve as a local resource for the history of the Asylum and the people (the “real ghosts”) who lived and worked there.

The series is sponsored by the Southeast Ohio History Center.

The final installment in the “Athens Asylum Sesquicentennial Series” series is Thursday, Nov. 15, and features Dr. Joseph Shields, Interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and Shawna Bolin, Associate Vice President of University Planning.



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