The sole remaining abandoned building on the grounds of the Ridges is the old tuberculosis ward. Over the years all of the other buildings have been turned into something, even if it's just storage. Many of the cottages are now very attractive classroom buildings; the main building contains a museum. But the TB ward hasn't gotten the treatment yet. It stands dark and shuttered on a hill at the edge of the property, just above the cemetery.

It took me several tries to actually get into this building. Since Athens is a city full of college punks like us, they keep their abandoned buildings locked up tight and closely watched, and everytime I saw the place it was sealed. Jenn finally got us inside after an earlier visit she'd made with her friends, but I wouldn't bet on being able to find a way in anymore.

Above and below you can see the rear courtyard of the building. The fence here gets cut off occasionally by vandals but it always seems to get replaced, as do boards pried off the windows. Lumber and bricks are stacked in the courtyard.

Inside this U-shaped building is even larger than it appears at first glance. There is an extensive basement with boiler rooms and even an old locker room that must have been used by employees. A rack of shelves occupies one wall.

On the first floor there are distinguishable waiting and visiting rooms; many of them are full of stored furniture piled halfway to the ceiling. The main porch is accessible from inside as well.

The second floor is where the really cool stuff is. The main hall is lined with rooms, each of them used by a mental patient who also happened to have tuberculosis and consequently had to be isolated from the others. This is why the TB building is located so far away from the rest of the hospital. Early in the twentieth century tuberculosis became such a problem in the United States that special hospitals for its treatment were common. (I had the opportunity to explore an abandoned TB hospital in Lima; see it here.) After a long decline, TB incidences began to increase again in the 1980s, and today it's not unheard of for people to die from it, especially in the southern states. It's a serious upper respiratory infection that today is usually only fatal to the very young or the very old. Click here to visit the Johns Hopkins Center for Tuberculosis Research website.

Above you can see the door to what I assumed was once the children's ward. "FUN." How ironic. (I've recently gotten word that this building was used as a school/day care center in the years since it housed TB patients.) The room itself is a long rear-facing room with lots of windows. An upright piano was in the corner when we were there. Jenn remembered seeing another upright and at least one baby grand piano when she was in the building before, but we didn't see them this time through.

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