Located in central Ohio, the Knox County Infirmary served children, the elderly and those with mental or physical illness. The grand and imposing building was developed on the Bricker Farm near Bangs Station.
Tinsley & Company of Columbus was hired by the county in May 1874 to furnish plans for an infirmary, with a construction contract awarded to the J. Henegan & Company in September. After some work was completed, it became evident that it would not be finished at budget. Tinsley & Company secured the building from the elements and convinced the county to take the contract off their hands for a large sum for the materials used and the labor performed.
Work under the county’s supervision was expedited and the new building was opened in September 1877. The new four-story Italianate-styled building featured 100 rooms and a 65-foot-high tower.
Substandard conditions forced the Knox County Infirmary to close in 1957. The building was purchased by Foursquare Gospel Church and used as the Mt. Vernon Bible College until 1988, when it relocated to Virginia.
The building, abandoned for several years, was reopened as The House of Nightmares in 1997. The structure, in use one of the state’s largest haunted houses, was popular until January 2006, when four floors of the building collapsed. The north facade gave way in February 2015.
Our visit to the infirmary was punctuated with extreme caution. The collapses of 2006 and 2015 have severely compromised the stability of the entire structure, with a portion of the front and the entire center of the building completely removed.
The construction methods of the building made any deterioration significant. Typical for the era, wooden floor joists were pocketed into brick masonry. Water from roof leaks and surface runoff soaked the walls leading to joist rot and eventual collapse.
The size of the building was remarkable for its time, and once laid claim to the largest building in the state. It stands in stark contrast to its surroundings: modest residences, quaint churches and rolling farms. The unsettling location of the imposing gothic-styled building gives it the resemblance out of a horror novel.