“Are you SURE you want me to drop you off here?” the Uber driver said as she turned left onto the road to the abandoned-looking grounds of the former Central State Hospital near the west side of Indianapolis.
“This doesn’t look right.”
But that is exactly where were wanted to be.
Central State Hospital, which opened in 1848, was originally known as the “Indiana Hospital for the Insane,” and the grounds sprawled across 160 acres. During the 150 years the hospital was open, people diagnosed with everything from schizophrenia, depression (melancholia), and hysteria to alcoholism, and epilepsy were patients here.
The hospital’s Pathology Department building, which first opened in 1896 for the purpose of studying the conditions of the hospital patients, is now the Indiana Medical History Museum.
It’s also the oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. And it still has much of its scientifically equipped interior intact.
We joined a tour that made stops in the teaching amphitheater, various laboratories, the library, the autopsy room, and the early-day anatomical museum which houses preserved specimens–mostly brains, organized by pathology.
Here are some more images from the museum.