With Hallows’ Eve quickly approaching anyone interested in a creepy real-life spooky experience need only visit the 133 year old state mental asylum, Terrell State Hospital (TSH).
Unlike other mental hospitals across the country that have closed their doors and now charge admission for haunted tours, Terrell State Hospital is still a fully operational, state owned and managed psychiatric hospital.
Located on Brin Street in one of Terrell’s oldest neighborhoods, Terrell State Hospital is a minimal security mental facility that houses hundreds of mentally ill patients, including many who have been criminally committed for violent crimes.
With moss covered fencing and an unguarded open entrance, it is not uncommon that local police are contacted to aid in the apprehension of patients who have decided to walk-away from the hospital that is located directly across the street from a family packed, low-income neighborhood.
During daylight hours the campus can appear quaint and serene with its historic water fountain amid manicured lawns and flower beds, however nighttime on the campus of Terrell State Hospital can be somewhat intimidating for anyone who is easily spooked.
Sightings of children peering from the windows of the abandoned building that once housed the hospitals school, as well as sightings of ghostly apparitions dressed in historic attire have been reported by visitors to the hospital as well as by contractors working on the campus.
Originally named the North Texas Lunatic Asylum, the mental facility was opened in July 1885 after overcrowding reached at unacceptable point at the state’s only psychiatric treatment facility which was located in Austin, Texas.
The 18th Texas State Legislature deemed that a new asylum for the “incurably insane” be built somewhere north of the tracks of the Texas and Pacific Railway. Upon hearing this news, Terrell city officials lobbied the state selection committee to choose a location in Terrell for the new hospital, and after considering several locations the committee chose the 672.65 acre site located just a mile northeast of the town.
The State of Texas appropriated $200,000 for the purchase of the land and the construction of the first buildings. And an additional 561 acres of land was leased to serve as pasture and cropland which allowed the mental hospital to operate in a self-sufficient plantation style manner for many years.
Currently about a half dozen buildings have been permanently closed to usage by hospital patients or employees. The presence of asbestos and mold makes it unsafe for the general public to enter these buildings.
As visitors enter through the main entrance to the hospital they will notice three nicely manicured homes on the right side of the roadway.
These three homes are the last of the neighboring property that was enclosed within the gates of Terrell State Hospital. Lacking flooring, plumbing, electricity and water these homes are mere "shell homes" for appearance purposes and have not been safely occupied for more than a decade.
The Brin Building, the Superintendent’s House and the mortuary, which is located in the basement of the Administration Building, are all rumored to be haunted with restless spirits.
The TSH Wildwood Cemetery located near the back of the sprawling hospital property is also rumored to be home to many unfortunate spirits who passed away at the mental facility over its many years in operation.
Terrell State Hospital is currently managed by Superintendent Dorothy Floyd, who unlike many of the facility's former superintendents does not live in the Superintendent's House located on hospital grounds.
TSH currently employs slightly less than a thousand employees and provides beds for 316 psychiatric patients.
The campus of Terrell State Hospital is a state taxpayer funded facility. Its grounds are open to the public for viewing and photography.
Although the staff of Terrell State Hospital will proclaim that public photography is not allowed, in reality only photography of the actual patients is prohibited by HIPAA laws (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).
Several interesting videos are available on Youtube that clearly capture the horrid conditions of several of the abandoned structures located at Terrell State Hospital.
And because all patients are secured indoors after 5 pm daily, the below video was captured October 30, 2018 at 5:20 pm.
Written by: Denise Bell