As stated in a previous post, The Ridges closed in 1993. But something occurred in December, 1978, that sealed the fate of the hospital as a place that would be haunted by spirits.
Margaret Schilling was a patient at the Athens Asylum, for what I could not find out, but the most memorable thing about her was her death. She "mysteriously" disappeared, or wandered off, depending on who you ask, and a search party was sent out to find her. There was no trace of Margaret.
Six weeks later, a custodian found Margaret's body in a vacated section of the hospital ward. The body was completely decomposed, but something unusual remained: a perfect, stain outline of her body.
There are many rumors surrounding Margaret's death. It was revealed by the asylum that she was a low-level patient, and was allowed to wander the grounds at her leisure. There is also a rumor that she was having an affair with an attendant and found herself pregnant, and the attendant locked her up there to take care of the problem. Whichever you believe, the phenomenon of the body stain itself was enough to scare people.
On my tour, the guide let us know that modern science has determined that it is more of a photograph negative than a stain. As you can see in my photos, there are windows in front of the stain. As her body decomposed, the fluids were constantly passed over and over again by the sunlight from the windows, developing a photograph of sorts.
The biggest reason why mystery continues to surround Margaret, is in part due to the Fox episode I linked to in my first post. The network developed a rumor that a student once touched the body stain, claimed Margaret's spirit had followed her home, and then later committed suicide in her residence at Wilson Hall.
Wilson Hall was built in 1965, and was previously called West Green building #5. And West Green also happens to be the closest residence green to The Ridges. But do the math, and a simple newspaper archive search, and it is plain to see this fabricated story is just that: a phony.
Wilson Hall was built before Margaret Schilling even disappeared. That's O.K., but do the math. Margaret did not disappear until December 1978, 13 years after Wilson Hall was built. But that still makes it possible for the body stain to be touched and taken back with the girl. Oh, but wait again: did The Ridges allow tours while patients still occupied the building? No, they did not. So the suicide of the Wilson Hall resident must have occurred sometime between 1993, when The Ridges closed, and 2000, when tours were no longer allowed.
Don't you think a story like that would have made statewide, if not national, headlines at the time? I don't recall hearing anything like that on the news; and both the Athens News and the Athens Messenger have no records of a student death occurring in Wilson Hall during that period.
A journalist at The Post came to the same conclusions as me about Margaret and the Wilson Hall suicide. In this report, there is reference to claims that Wilson Hall is haunted based on reports by girls living in Wilson Hall, one of who was the "victim" of Margaret's haunting and supposedly died...Except the interview and article were published before Margaret's disappearance.
An interview and article was done by The Athens News with R.J. Abraham, who had been interviewed by the Fox production company for the show, and he was disappointed with the results of the show, because he, like me, feels that The Ridges were a place of beauty, not of fright.
So, fact: Margaret Schilling did die at The Ridges and did leave a body stain.
Not a fact: A girl committed suicide in Wilson Hall after touching the body stain.
My next post will examine the pentagon theory of Athens, Ohio. It is said that there are five cemeteries surrounding Athens, and connecting the lines creates a pentagon-like shape, making Athens a hotbed of spiritual activity. Is this true? Read my next post!
**I recently created a photo album if you are interested in seeing all of my pictures from my tour of The Ridges**