Thursday, April 1, 2021

HGB Ep. 379 - Molly Stark Sanatorium

Our sponsor for this episode is Wooga's June's Journey: The Lost Diaries Podcast. Check it out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast and anywhere you listen to podcasts!

Moment in Oddity - The Scaly-Foot Snail (Suggested by Jannae McCabe)

Imagine a life of hanging around hydrothermal events, deep in the ocean in temperatures hitting 750 degrees F and eating bacteria for food. Doesn't sound real pleasant, but it's a life that is perfect for the scaly-foot snail. There is little competition in this part of the ocean. And not much in the way of predators. But one has to ask, how does a little snail survive in this inhospitable environment? By building itself plate armor. This snail is the suit of armor of hot places in the ocean. The snail shell is made of iron sulfide. And the soft part of the snail that is technically known as the foot is covered with iron plates. This is the only animal on Earth that can utilize iron this way. The armor is similar to chain mail, so the snail is able to move easily. The snail has three layers to its shell: the top layer is  iron-plated, the bottom is a calcified material and there is a thick, squishy organic layer in between. The scaly-foot snail makes its food from bacteria in a process called chemosynthesis. A gland inside the snail synthesizes the bacteria into a food that the snail can eat. I love snails and have one in my fish tank, but I have to admit that an iron-plated snail, certainly is odd!

This Month in History -Yuri Gagarin First Man in Space

In the month of April, on the 12th, in 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Gagarin had worked as a foundryman at a steel plant before he joined the Soviet Air Forces and became a pilot. He and eleven other men would be selected as cosmonauts for the Soviet Space Programme. They all trained rigorously on a program similar to Olympic athletes. When the group voted for who among them should be the first in space, nearly everyone chose Gagarin. Six men, including Gagarin were broken off into the Sochi Six and received more specialized training with g-forces and oxygen starvation tests. They were then tested for readiness. Gagarin was formally nominated and he would make his flight into history aboard the Vostok 1. It would be his only flight into space. Gagarin orbited the Earth in a flight that lasted 108 minutes before returning home, a hero. He became an international celebrity, but continued to fly regular aircraft. He was killed at the age of 34 when his MiG-15 training jet crashed on March 27, 1968.

Molly Stark Sanatorium (Suggested by: Anthony Wallace and Jennifer Svoboda)

We have covered many former and abandoned sanatoriums and mental institutions on this podcast. It never ceases to amaze us how many of these buildings still stand. And all of them seem to have stories of haunting activity. The Molly Stark Sanatorium in Ohio is in really poor condition and thus, no one is allowed inside the buildings and a protective fence has been erected, complete with barbed wire at the top. Despite this fact, many people have been inside and claim to have had experiences. The Sanatorium became a hospital later caring for generally ill people, mentally ill people, addictions, the developmentally disabled and the elderly. Join us as we explore the history and haunts of the Molly Stark Sanatorium!

Stark County in Ohio is a fascinating place. This is located in the northeast part of Ohio and sits on the Allegheny Plateau. The mound builders were the first to live in this once vast wilderness. White settlers arrived with western expansion and signed treaties with the Native Americans, the Miamis, Wyandots, Shawnee and Iroquois, and began building cabins in a land with plenty of fresh water, abundant fish and a variety of wildlife. Eighty percent of these people that arrived around 1805, were German-speaking Pennsylvanians. Stark County split off from Columbiana County in 1807. The county was named for a man who never even ventured into Ohio, but he was a hero of the Revolutionary War, General John Stark. Before he died in 1822, he was the oldest surviving general from that war. He fought valiantly at the Battle of Bennington and is credited with coining the New Hampshire motto "Live Free or Die." His wife Molly cared for the sick and dying in New Hampshire and that is for whom the Molly Stark Sanatorium was named.

Molly Stark Sanatorium would be one of twenty-five tuberculosis hospitals in the state of Ohio and it followed the guidelines of providing patients with plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Stark County sold its interest in a sanitorium in the next county over, the Springfield Lake Tuberculosis Sanitorium and passed a bond issue in 1927 that would give the county $750,000 for a new 150-bed facility. Architect Albert Thayer of New Castle, Pennsylvania was hired to design the new hospital and this would be in the Spanish Revival style. The design included vaulted porticos, recessed balconies and lots of windows. There was also a rooftop veranda, ornate marble, stone decorations and chandaliers. The entire complex would include a nurses' home, superintendent's residence, a children’s hospital and a power plant. The grounds were grown as a beautiful garden to provide therapy and relaxation. The Molly Stark Sanatorium opened officially on August 23, 1929 just outside of Louisville, Ohio.

The Sanatorium had a unique system for housing patients. Anyone who was completely mobile would be placed on the first floor and they were given freedom to roam the grounds. Bedridden patients were placed on the top floor. Those who were partly ambulatory or in recovery and experiencing health improvements would be placed in the middle floors. The second floor was mainly for recreation with radios, a library and game room. In 1938, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) installed 1,200-feet of tunnels under the complex to connect the buildings. This made it easier for staff and patients to get around during bad weather. The east and west wings were expanded in 1952 under architect Charles E. Firestone when a $500,000 bond issue was passed. Another $250,000 was added by state and federal government. Firestone's additions added more roof-top porches and increased capacity to 230 patients.

The name was changed to Molly Stark Hospital after this and other patients were welcomed into the hospital. Advances in antibiotics helped in the treatment of TB at this time and lowered deaths by two-thirds, so not as many people with TB were cared for here, although some would remain until 1970. The few still left at that time were transferred to J.T. Nist Nursing Home. The hospital would eventually become a catch-all for the indigent, mentally ill, addicted and developmentally disabled. By July 1975, nearly forty staff had resigned and the hospital was running at a deficit. The writing was on the wall by 1995 and Molly Stark Hospital closed. It then sat abandoned while various groups decided what to do with the property. One suggestion by architect John Patrick Picard was to rehab the building and use it for an assisted living facility. A developer named Steve Coon thought that the property could be converted into retail space and apartments. Neither of these projects would go forward for one significant road block. It was going to cost nearly $10 million to remove asbestos and get the buildings prepared for rehabilitation.

So that left demolition on the table. But the buildings continued to stand. A suspicious fire started in the main building in 2008. Today, the former sanatorium is part of Molly Stark Park after the county park board bought the property for $1 in 2008. Outdoor walking tours are offered and there is a Celebration Garden. There are plans to develop the 35 acres into something in the future, but for now the abandoned buildings just sit falling apart, which is tragic because they are interesting architectural and historical structures. Many windows are broken out, lighting fixtures hang loose from the ceiling, paint is peeling and rooms are full of debris left behind from its former life. Lead paint and asbestos fears, despite the county receiving $200,000 for asbestos clean-up in 2004, have kept officials from allowing anyone in the buildings and they are regularly patrolled. This hasn't stopped stories from being told about hauntings.

Some stories date back to the time when the hospital was open. Nurses claimed that the elevators would run by themselves and both staff and patients claimed to see shadow figures in various parts of the main building. After the hospital closed in 1995, people on the outside would claim to see glowing lights inside the building. These orbs of light are mostly seen on the second floor. Disembodied voices were heard echoing down the hallways and down shafts. Former patients have been seen looking out windows. There are some who claim that nothing negative is in the former hospital because it was named for a caring woman and the care offered there was good as well, but we found a few stories from urban explorers claiming that something evil is in the main building. These were comments from the Dark Lucidity blog:

Author Brian Moreland who hosts the blog, wrote of his visit to Molly Stark, "After walking down the back side of the east wing, we came to a juncture where the west wing began. Here there was a window which appeared to have been completely removed and hadn’t been boarded up like all the other ground level entrances. I climbed into a very small room which looked more like it had been used for storage purposes when the hospital had been open. The single door out led me into a hallway filled with debris along with odds and ends furniture. Although the lighting was dimmer in the building, I could still clearly see the elevator doors off to the left, which made the hairs on my arms stand up. As I continued shooting photos while walking down the hallway, I began to hear faint movement on the steps just down near the end. The closer I got to those steps the more intense the alarms starting going off in my head that there was more than one entity approaching. I have always been sensitive to paranormal activity and so I used this as another tool of investigation. And at this point my instincts screamed at me to get out! And so I did very quickly."

Unknown wrote on March 24, 2019, "I went in that place one time and will never do it again. There is evil and it's powerful. Whatever it was wouldn't let me go to the second floor it paralyzed me on the stairs. I couldn't move. Didn't matter how hard I tried. So I prayed. That's when it pushed me off the stairs. And when I hit the ground I had control of my body again. I never ran so fast on my life. Whatever it was didn't follow me."

Unknown wrote on July 5, 2016, "I have been in the basement of Molly Stark and felt very strange and negative entities coming down the steps that run to the right of the elevator shaft, if you're coming in from the back. I left pretty quickly after that, as I wasn't going to wait for them to reach me."

Several paranormal experiences are related by police officers, giving them even more credibility. Former Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson is one of those men. Nearly twenty years ago, Swanson was escorting a group of jail inmates through the buildings on a sunny afternoon. Their purpose was to retrieve any furniture or other items that could be sold at a county auction. The group wound their way through the stairwells, corridors and rooms. Swanson said, "We were back down on the first-floor in one of the hallways and all of a sudden we heard a bed being dragged across the floor." The group went to the next floor up from where the sound seemed to have originated. They were stunned to see that there was an area in the dust that clearly had been cleared away as though something had been scooted across the floor and drug through the dust. There was no one else in the building and the group had stuck together. Swanson said, "After we got up there and there was nobody there, you get a little chill and you think, ‘What in the hell did that?’ The thing is not going to move there on its own. I guess I’m a skeptic, but what I heard was what I heard."

Canton police Lt. Dennis Pellegrino, was the only officer to spend the night inside Molly Stark. He was there on duty to protect the guns and evidence stored in the east wing after the police department set up offices there. They had no security system for the first couple of nights and Pellegrino was tasked with keeping everything secure. He didn't get restful sleep. At first, he blamed all the noises that he heard on the fact that the building was old and the pipes were creaking and groaning and the boiler system was noisy. But then after 2am, he was awakened by a horrendous dragging noise above him. He ran upstairs thinking someone had broken in and found that a bed had been moved. He knew the room well and knew that the bed was not where it had been before. Pellegrino was told a story by a member of the SWAT team. The team used one of the buildings for training exercises and this officer said he saw a man in a brown suit run across a hallway. Other officers claimed to see a man in a brown suit peering out of windows. There was no one in this building other than officers in uniforms. Pellegrino said. "You got a sense there’s something there." 

Former sheriff’s inspector Steve Ready, had stayed at the Stark Metropolitan Narcotics Unit office, inside the former hospital, late one night in 2001. He was the only person in the building when he heard a voice say, "Steve." Ready said, "And I said, ‘yeah,’ and there was no response. I looked up and no one was there. I didn’t recognize the voice — it was just so off-the-cuff ... and then of course, you get up and scurry to the hall to see if anybody is there ... and I was alone. It sent chills up my spine, and needless to say, I gathered up my things that night (and left)."

Former Louisville Police Chief Andrew Turowski found himself alone inside the Molly Stark metro unit wing too one night. Turowski said, "I certainly heard and saw things that I’d be at a loss to explain. I’m not going to suggest it’s paranormal or ghosts, but at the same time I’d be at a loss to explain it. I think a number of people who were out there might report to you it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear things on the floor above us, especially furniture moving." And he added that even the police dog seemed to be aware of a strange presence. He explained, "One thing that always struck me as odd is, periodically, he would just kind of stand up in the office and walk to the door and look down the hallways, and all the hair on the back of his neck would stand up and he would howl only in a way that he would in that hospital."

In the Canton Repository, "Mary Lou Patterson, 76, of Plain Township, visited the former Molly Stark Hospital on a recent afternoon in search of the doorway where her late mother was photographed shortly after the tuberculosis sanitarium opened in 1929. Patterson’s mother, Lucy Holmes Ferraro, was a nurse who cared for younger patients in a smaller building adjacent to the primary hospital. A black-and-white image captures a day she was waiting for her father to pick her up from work. The daughter found that marble-framed entrance. Vines, overgrowth, fractured concrete, wood-patched windows, other decay engulfed the formerly ornate building. 'This is the first time I have ever felt the presence of my mom,” Patterson said. “I just felt my mom standing there; it was warm, it was good and I cried.'"

Reverend Jerry Walker has a lot of experience investigating haunted places and although he's never been inside Molly Stark, he believes that it is haunted. He claimed, "I was walking on the outside. I looked up cause it looked like something was watching me. And I looked up and I saw something staring at me from the balcony of Molly Stark."

Mary Lynn Soehnlen of Louisville worked as a nurse's aid starting in 1974. She helped in both the geriatric unit and the handicapped children's unit. Nothing unusual would happen during the day, but come night, things got strange. Soehnlen recalled, "My first night on midnights, they said if you hear stuff or see stuff, don’t be alarmed. It is kinda spooky. I found out for myself. There was a couple times when the elevator came down and opened and there was nobody in there." The aide also believed that a spirit used to mess with a young patient's oxygen tank. It had an alarm that would go off when it needed ice added to it. Many times right after she added ice and would walk away, the alarm would go off. On one occasion when she turned around and looked back, she saw a white mist float across the room. The white mist wasn't the only manifestation that she saw. She also saw a black figure run across a balcony, blocking out the light, so she knew she wasn't imagining the figure. She would sometimes hear disembodied voices coming from the underground tunnels and furniture in the break room would move on its own.

Hospitals and sanatoriums are notorious for being haunted. More than likely because of all the death and tuberculosis took many people in the primes of their lives and in a painful way. Could some of these spirits still be wandering the corridors? Would they remain if the buildings are finally demolished? Do they just want people to visit and hear their stories? Is the former Molly Stark Sanatorium haunted? That is for you to decide!

No comments:

Post a Comment