Cruising along Indiana country roads, past dozens of giant windmills swirling silently above the farmland, a turreted red brick building appears just south of Winchester. The Randolph Asylum is a relic from the days of poor houses and experimental mental healthcare facilities. It now sits vacant, though in excellent condition for a building 120 years old thanks to the current caretakers. Many come here to search for ghosts; I came to learn its history. Owner Dann Allen has an appreciation for both worlds and led me on a tour from basement to attic of this magnificent old building.
History of Randolph Asylum
This isn’t the first building here. The original poor house was built in the 1850s, but burned down not long after. A brick structure replaced it for half a century. Before being torn down. The hulking 50,000 square foot asylum we see today was completed in 1899 and is surrounded by some of the older ancillary buildings, such as a chicken coop, barn, and other outbuildings dating to its working farm days.
Randolph Asylum operated under various owners with the country ultimately purchasing the property in the 1990s. With only a few remaining residents, the asylum closed in 2009. The current owners purchased the property a few years ago with the goals of preserving the building and allowing paranormal investigations, as well as other events, to fund the restoration.
Touring the Randolph Asylum
Walking through the front doors there is a sense of entering a grand old estate. Wood trim, high ceilings, and antique furniture decorate the former rooms of the live-in supervisors. Open the two doors at the back of the lobby and the facade evaporates with a view of the long patient ward hallways. The contrast in living conditions is startling, though not unexpected.
There are two main floors where residents/patients lived. Their little rooms line the hallways running the central length off the building. At the rear are larger open rooms where they could congregate, eat meals, visit with family and each other. The windows look out over the open, rolling hills of the farmland and may have been solace for some. There are a few special resident rooms, which may have served as quarantine for tuberculosis patients at one time and nicer living arrangements for those coming from families with money.
The basement runs the full length of the building and also has several distinct spaces. There is a holding area where unruly residents were held until local authorities could take them. Living quarters for patients who may not have been able to mingle with others shows some of the more depressing history of such facilities. A large kitchen, laundry room, and butcher shop were often staffed, at least in part, by the Randolph’s residents.
The attic is a thing of beauty for anyone who admires old buildings. Large enough to be another floor, the attic is completely finished in bare wood, yet a fully usable space. There were originally several dormers lining the flanks of the room, which hopefully will be restored in the future. Residents worked on projects up there and may have also enjoyed some quiet. Recently, decorations were put up and a large wedding held in the space.
Outside the asylum is surrounded by acres of farmland, some of which was worked by residents to earn their keep. The old barn, chicken coop, and garage still stand. Somewhere near the barn is an unmarked cemetery where at least a dozen people are thought to be buried.
Events at the Randolph Asylum
The Randolph Asylum hosts a wide variety of special events. The most common are overnight paranormal investigations and historical tours. Local events, such as a glow in the dark Easter egg hunt, add uniqueness to Winchester. There have also been weddings held in the massive open space of the attic, which can seat dozens of guests and decorated to create a completely different atmosphere.
For those interested in paranormal investigations, experiences include an historical tour and use of the front family rooms for overnight sleeping arrangements. Additionally, special tickets events happen throughout the year. Check the Randolph Asylum’s website for a listing of upcoming events and prices.
The Big Question: Is Randolph Asylum Haunted?
The Randolph Asylum has its share of tragedies. From a man pushed out of a window by other residents to a woman who hung herself in the basement, and the usual deaths from diseases like tuberculosis. There is always the question of if their spirits linger. Several ghost hunting groups, including some popular TV shows, have conducted paranormal investigations. The Randolph Asylum website has a list of videos showing evidence from some of these visits.
After returning home from my road trip, I noticed something odd as I was scrolling through my pictures that gave me goosebumps. In a three shoot burst, it appears to be a mist forming and moving towards a door. Watch this video to see what I caught and comment with your thoughts.
For more information on the Randolph Asylum, including overnight ghost hunts, click here to visit their official website.
**Special thanks to Randolph Asylum owner Dann Allen and friends for thorough tour and Scottie Harvey of the Randolph County CVB for inviting me to stop by for a visit to Winchester.**
While in the area, you can’t pass up a stop at the Mrs. Wick’s Restaurant for some unbelievably good pies. There are also coolers full of very affordable seconds from the Wicks Pie factory.