The funny farm, the nuthouse, the loony bin – there are a thousand terms to describe mental hospitals.
But I never thought I’d call one home, at least not any time in the near future, until we moved to Klamath Falls.
While I searched for an apartment that would be willing to let Casandra and I rent for one month, I came across a great deal.
“Attention college students! Studio apartment for rent. $475 a month, all utilities included.”
It sounded perfect, something small to rent since we would only be in Klamath Falls for one month before packing up and moving to the next location.
So I contacted the owner, a really laid back guy who is a pilot, and he agreed to have us as tenants. Bingo! Off we went to Esplanade Ave. in Klamath Falls.
As we were moving in, I noticed a small, bronze plaque hanging just next to the front entrance. A good laugh came out of me when I read what the plaque said.
Apparently Blackburn Manor, as our apartment is called, was the Blackburn Sanitarium as early as 1910. The place is now on the national register of historic places.
According to their website, the Blackburn Sanitarium, also known as the Blackburn Manor and Klamath General Hospital, was an area of significance from 1900-1949.
No fear at all
Not that I don’t believe in paranormal activity, or the possibility of a realm the living cannot see, but the fact that our apartment is located in a former sanitarium doesn’t disturb me.
However, I’d be lying if I didn’t ponder what had gone on here, and if I told you I didn’t get spooked the first day or two.
For example, one night I was picking something up from the floor. Suddenly, I heard giggling and laughing. It took me a moment to realize the neighbors were having a party on a Friday night.
Another time I heard babies crying and I mentioned it to Casandra.
“What are you talking about?” she asked with a serious look on her face. “There are no babies in this building.”
A spooky feeling came over me briefly, that is until I recalled two of the other tenants entering the building with babies or small children. Isn’t my wife a riot?
If we were living in this building alone, then I just might be a little more creeped out. The fact that there are seven other apartments in the building, all inhabited by friendly people, makes it less creepy.
Our awesome apartment manager
Since we arrived our apartment manager, Tamia, has been nothing but helpful and kind. She lives in an apartment below us, and she’s always a phone call away.
In fact, she goes above and beyond the typical apartment manager.
You see, sometimes when we’re away from home, Casandra and I initially find it difficult to meet new people. You can’t just stop over a friend’s house, invite people over or make plans to meet up with your old friends.
All the familiarities of home are gone.
The other night I made some cabbage and noodles for dinner, and just as we were finishing dinner, the phone rang.
“Hey Jon,” Tamia said. “I just made a pot of homemade chili. You guys want to come down and get some?”
We gave her a little bit of the cabbage and noodles we had left, which she said proved we are Ohio people, and she gave us a small pot of chili. It’s nice when people make you feel comfortable even though you are over 2,000 miles away from home.
Tamia also shared a little bit about the history of the building with us the day we handed her the rent check. As I mentioned to her about the building being a sanitarium, she became eager to share what she knows about the place.
“It sure was a sanitarium,” she said. “It was also used to quarantine people with TB and other illnesses.”
I think Casandra wanted her to stop there, but Tamia had more to share.
“When I used to live in the upstairs apartments I experienced something strange,” she told us. “No one else was in the building and I swore I felt a hand brush up against my arm. I turned to look and no one was around.”
Casandra was mumbling something about how we had heard enough – but there was more.
“From what I’m told,” Tamia continued. “The whole bottom floor of this building served as the morgue.”
As if the sanitarium aspect wasn’t enough!
She also told us that any paranormal experiences people have described over the years have had something to do with a “little girl and a throne.”
At this point we all got a good laugh as Tamia showed us her bathroom, which was in a raised area, the toilet sitting on a raised platform.
“That’s the only throne I’m aware of in this place,” she said with a laugh.
The stuff memories are made of
I wouldn’t trade living in Blackburn Manor for anything. I’ve been around crazy people my whole life – what difference does it make if they’re dead or living. Hell, I might even be a bit crazy myself.
Our apartment is small. One room that serves as a bedroom, a kitchen with just enough room for a two person table, a bathroom with a stand up shower and a toilet that requires me to nearly sit sideways.
Yet every day I feel closer to Casandra and I love every experience we share together. The apartment is close to town, and we have a very kind friend downstairs who sometimes cooks for us.
What more could a person ask for?
This is the prime of my life, the time I know I’ll one day look back and smile about, and I want to soak in whatever this time deals us.
Ghosts or no ghosts – I’m going to remember this place fondly.