Georgia's state mental asylum located in Milledgeville, has been the state's largest facility for treatment of mental illness and developmental disabilities. In continuous operation since accepting its first patient in December 1842, the hospital was founded as the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum, and was also known as the Georgia State Sanitarium and Milledgeville State Hospital during its long history. By the 1960s the facility had grown into the largest mental hospital in the world. Its landmark Powell Building and the vast, abandoned 1929 Jones Building stand among some 200 buildings on two thousand acres that once housed nearly 12,000 patients.
The CSH complex currently encompasses about 1,750 acres, a pecan grove and historic cemetery, and serves about 200 mental health patients.
There are so many abandoned buildings. It is really an eerie place given the jaded history of mental health institutions. The security in this complex is insane. You are welcome to drive around but the minute you step out of your car they seemingly come out of no where to hassle you. We did not have a lot of time and were running out of daylight so I only stepped out of my car twice. I have heard horror stories of people getting fined and cars getting towed depending on which guard and what area you venture into. Part of the complex is still a working mental institution but for the most part it is a wasteland.
On the property there is also abandoned Scott State Prison.
All of these buildings are interesting but the main reason I wanted to explore the grounds was to find the Cedar Lane Cemetery.
Home to rows upon rows of numbered iron markers. What these markers represent are the souls of the insane that died at Central State Hospital. The insane asylum was sorely lacking in effective burial methods. It's believed that the fields around where the asylum once stood are the site of a secret mass grave, where tens of thousands of souls are interred, without identification by way of grave markers.
It's believed over 30,000 neglected souls are now buried throughout the surrounding grounds.
In the late 1930s, an African-American cemetery was dug up and the bodies were removed, often placed in small boxes, and marked with a lone metal pole. The way each body was identified was numerically. There are six cemeteries that went neglected for decades. Many consider this mass burial ground to be the world's largest for the mentally-ill.
During the 1960s many of the numbered markers were gathered up and discarded, in order to clean up the grounds. The Georgia Consumer Council responded years later by collecting as many iron grave markers as they could find and assembling them into the makeshift memorial you can visit today. It truly is one of the world's most macabre memorials.