As the building referred to as ‘Old Main’ is being opened to the public for a limited time this Monday, it is interesting to take a look back at this historic building, and pay attention to the events, and hauntings, that took place there.

The Utica Psychiatric Center was opened in 1843, and was designed by Captain William Clarke, in the Greek Revival style. This was one of the first psychiatric centers in the United States, and existed prior to the mid 19th century push towards institutionalized care in our country.

Shadow Chasers

The Psychiatric Center was best known for the ‘Utica Crib’. This was a bed that highly resembled a crib because of the vertical metal slats inclosing the sides. A lid would be fastened over the top, and patients would sleep inside. Many critics compared this to a cage, but there were reports that patients found the bed comfortable. It probably was more comfortable than being physically restrained through the use of straps.

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The Center was closed in 1978, as institutions phased out of mental health treatment, being replaced by more proactive methods of treatment.

...People would frequently be locked away for years, sometimes for the rest of their lives...

After the closure of the building, and as it fell into further disrepair, rumors began to spread that the building was haunted.

It is common for old mental health institutions to either be haunted, or be rumored to be haunted. During the late 19th century, these were not pleasant places to be. It was common for people to be placed in institutions for a variety of reasons that today wouldn’t be viewed as out of the norm. These people would frequently be locked away for years, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Living conditions were crowded, care was sporadic, and mental health treatment was primitive at best.

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Although closed to the public, there are many reports of people slipping in to the building to explore. They have reported strange noises such as voices in an empty building and footsteps. Photographs have contained ectoplasm and other strange images, and people have reported creepy feelings, or like they are being watched.

[Contributed By NY Shadow Chasers]