Northern State Mental Hospital


Northern State Hospital - WashingtonLocation :

Sedro Woolley, Washington


After the economic crisis of 1893 the town of Sedro Woolley was struggling to stay alive.  Even though 2 other hospitals for the criminally insane already existed in the area, to keep the town on the map they decided to build a mental institution to liven up the economy.  In 1906, 800 acres of land were purchased to build Northern State Mental Hospital which would house non dangerous, but mentally unstable patients.   In fall of 1910, the first hospital building opened, serving as a administration and a construction building, but the first 200 patients were not admitted to the hospital until 1912.  Northern State became very well known for it’s humane practices, which in that day that were almost unheard of, and many people were very intolerant of these practices.  The hospital served its purpose in helping the local economy and nearly everyone in the area was dependent on the hospital in some way.  While it was open, the hospital expanded to almost twice its original acreage and opened vocational schools such as farming, printing and more.

Northern State on Opening Day 1912

Northern State on Opening Day 1912

The first known murder at Northern State occurred in February of 1922 when it was being run by Dr. James Winfield Doughty.  Reports of the incident say that a patient was murdered by another patient.  In the 1940’s the hospital took on a young renowned surgeon by the name of Dr. Charles H. Jones.  Jones was known for his participation n the highly experimental surgery known as the trans-orbital lobotomy.  In 1945. he assisted Dr. Walter Freeman who perfected the controversial surgery.  After Dr. Doughty was no longer running the facility in Jan 1950, the new controversial methods of Dr. Jones began to take over as normal treatment practices for patients.  At this time there were about 2000 patients residing in the institution and many were sent away.  After this time, Dr. Jone would take in about 650 patients a year and only discharge around 400.  The other 250 patients are said to have either died here or been transferred to other facilities.  The total number of patients that died behind the walls of the institution is not known but rumors place it in the thousands.  There’s even a graveyard of unmarked graves on the premises behind the gymnasium..  In 1976 the hospital officially closed and today parts of the facility are used for Job Corps and a Drug Rehabilitation Center.

The Haunting:

There are many ghosts said to roam the premises of the hospital.  One of these spirits is said to be named “Fred”, who is known for his playfulness and is a bit of a prankster.  Reports

Nurses Dormitory at Northern State Mental Hospital - Washington

Nurses Dormitory at Northern State Mental Hospital - Washington

of “Fred’s” activity are that he throws things like sheets and bed pans across the room.  While working in the hospital, many nurses complained of random cold spots throughout the building, even in the middle of summer.  In the nurses dormitory a little girl with a bouncing red ball is often seen and an adult male ghost is encountered while constantly search for the playful child.  Other people have claimed to see a full bodied apparition of a nurse hanging by a noose in the window of the old nurses station.  In the old superintendent’s building people have been frightened by strange bright lights on the second floor.  There have been claims of paranormal activity near the gym where possibly thousands of unmarked graves lay since the 1950’s.  This hospital has been featured by a number of paranormal investigation teams including Syfy’s Ghost Hunters.

For many thrill seekers searching for haunts this might be the place to check out.  Don’t forget though that this property as well as many of the other properties listed do not enjoy uninvited guests of the living variety, so make sure you have permission to enter the property or you may find yourself behind lock and key for trespassing.

Related Links:

Most Haunted Places in America – Northern State Mental Hospital – Ghost Eyes

Haunted Places: Northern State Mental Hospital

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9 comments for “Northern State Mental Hospital

  1. Cathleen Demaray
    September 20, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Hi. My name is Cathleen, and I am co-founder of N.W.P.O.R. (Northwest Paranormal & Occult Research)I was just wondering if there was a way for my team to come in and investigate. Who would I need to talk to or are they not letting anyone in? Thank you.

    Cathleen Demaray

    • APearman
      February 25, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Everyone goes there and shoots, you CAN go the treasury office for the state and ask the clerk of that county to find a owner and if the STATE owns it you can request permission from the state. but HUNDREDS of photographers go there and shoot all the time. I dont think anyone really cares…

  2. Brannon McInnerney
    August 3, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I live in Sedro-Woolley and you can get in big trouble if you go to the hospital without permission. However you do not need permission to go and see the farms.

  3. Kathy
    August 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I was a counselor at Cascades Job Corps for several years in the early ’80’s. There are many stories, and some things I personally experienced on the old Northern State Campus. A co-worker and I decided one day to sneak into the actual old Northern State facilities… a few stories there. Then there was “Ghost Night,” as we named it later, when all hell broke loose in one of the Job Corps dormitories — due to the sighting of a girl in flowing robes hanging from a high point on one of the dormitories. That was a triple shift worked for all of us. At any rate… Yes, I’ve no doubt the old Northern State grounds are haunted. Frightened? No. Interested? Of course. Thanks for posting the article and bringing attention to this!

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