Old Bryce Mental Institute

Being from the Northern part of the country, I don’t often get the opportunity to explore the Southern states. Not only are they warmer (note to self, don’t go in summer) but they have as much, if not more history than my home state. (Go Badgers!) So when the chance to explore comes about, and it’s very rare that it does, I want to take time to explore the Southern states who also hold a lot of abandoned and allegedly haunted locations. Such is the one today.

Old Bryce Hospital, also called Jemison Center, is located in Northport, AL. Northport is in Tuscaloosa County, approximately 55 miles from Birmingham, AL. In Northport is where you will find the remains of the Old Bryce Hospital.

The property was originally owned by the Jemison family, handed down until 1862 when Robert Jemison Jr, had a home built in Tuscaloosa. He was an advocate for having a hospital available for the mentally insane. And Robert was a major influence for having the first asylum built in the state for the mentally insane. What is now known as Old Bryce Hospital.

During the 1920’s the hospital was severely overcrowded, forcing satellite locations to open. In 1939, the site of Cherokee Plantation, also at the property, was converted to the State Work Farm Colony for Negroes. At this time, the main Old Bryce hospital was for white patients only.

After this time, the history of the building seems to fade. After 1977, the location was used, but a separate building was erected and used as a nursing home until it too closed in 2003. The property is now abandoned. As with any property be sure to get permission to be on it.

Knowing a bit of the history of the location, why is it considered haunted?

As mentioned above, the hospital was a segregated facility, where freed black slaves who had trouble adjusting to life were sent to be forced back into slavery for the hospital’s need to be self funded. These individuals, were required to work in the fields and produce the crops that would be used for both selling and the hospital’s use.

Now I’m not a historian, but I do see one issue with this….if these patients were recently freed slaves, and the hospital opened in 1862 as reported, the war didn’t end until 1865. Other sources say the hospital didn’t open until the 1920’s, which also poses a question as to the validity of the recently freed slaves working at the hospital.

Regardless, this was an asylum/hospital/institute, and this place was and the people who lived here no doubt did experience all the numerous horrors that were associated with being a mentally ill patient in the early 20th century.

The reports of haunting include a variety of events: people hearing voices, footsteps, the sounds of slamming doors, disembodied women crying, as well as more violent encounters with hair being pulled and the sensation of being hit or kicked.

Other investigators have gone to the Jemison Center/Old Bryce Hospital ruins and have had many paranormal experiences. Please do not go alone, and be sure to follow any posted warnings. Be safe.

Stay Curious My Friends!

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