Anyone hoping for a scare this Halloween might be tempted to visit Rosewood in Owings Mills, an abandoned mental hospital established in 1888 as an “Asylum and Training School for the Feeble Minded.” My advice is to steer clear, as the property has recently been purchased for development by Stevenson University, and the grounds monitored by constant security, a precaution deemed necessary as the old property has, in the past, been something of a magnet for ghost hunters and urban explorers (there’s a hundred-year-old burial ground from when a flu epidemic hit the hospital). For those intrepid enough, however, the hospital is supposedly haunted, and ghost sightings are not unknown. In fact, according to spook-hunters, the ghost of a woman has been sighted in the third floor window of the main building.
Overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed throughout its existence, Rosewood was referred to as “Maryland’s Shame” in a 1949 multi-piece article by The Baltimore Sun. After the State Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene merged in 1969, the facility fell into disuse. The main building burned in a 2006 case of arson, and the remains are still fenced off, charred and ruined. The property has recently been purchased by Stevenson, though is as yet undeveloped, partly because the buildings are laden with asbestos, and there’s lead paint within the deteriorating walls and the tunnels that run beneath the buildings. Soil tests have shown evidence of various toxins, including arsenic. When I visited this summer, the old asylum was overgrown, weed-bedecked, and covered in spooky graffiti. Old file cabinets were visible amid the charred remains of what was once the main ward. It’s difficult to imagine that before too long, students will be happily playing Frisbee on the lawns. Will the ghosts of the old hospital walk the halls? We can only wait and see.
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