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Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story, the Tale of the Memphis U.S. Marine Hospital.
The year was 1798 and President Adams decreed there needed to be a hospital for the sick, injured, and disabled maritime men. This Marine Hospital cared for the seamen who worked on the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, the original plot of land, in Napoleon Arkansas, washed away when the river changed course and the new hospital was built in Fort Pickering, south of Memphis in 1884.
It consisted of a stable, two wards, the surgeon’s house, nurses’ quarters, and an executive building. This hospital was the city’s first federally-funded public health facility and the only government hospital in the area at that time. It remained so until after WWI.
Not only did the hospital treat those who worked the river, it also served Civil War Veterans and Yellow Fever victims. The hospital played a vital role in trying to find a cure for Yellow Fever.
Be sure to come back for season three which is all about Yellow Fever and learn why this sickness had such an impact on our city and why we wanted to find a cure.
In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration built a new hospital building on the site, moving the remaining original buildings 300 feet to the west. Over the years, the facility was used by the Coast Guard, active military, public health officials, cadets from state maritime activities, Army Corps of Engineers, and government employees injured in the line of duty.
The hospital closed in the 1960s and part of the grounds were leased to the Metal Museum in 1979. As recently as the 1990s, the grounds were used to house Desert Storm soldiers. Sadly, the hospital sat derelict until a developer decided to purchase the buildings and land in 2003. It wasn’t until almost 20 years later that anything was done with it after that.
So what about the spooky parts?
So a little history as to what happened in the area now known as French Fort.
Battles of the Civil War raged along the Mississippi River in the area around where the Marine Hospital was to sit.
The Confederate army set up camp in the area and turned one of the ceremonial mounds into an artillery bunker. The Union army then quickly overtook the area and turned it into a camp.
Battles mean tragic death and tragic death generally means restless spirits.
Since its inception, over 100,000 soldiers were treated at the hospital and 40,000 died there. There were also over 10,000 deaths from Yellow Fever.
So it’s fair to say, from all the death that occured on the land as well as in the hospital itself, there is bound to be some paranormal activity.
We watched an episode of Ghost Asylum for research and while it was a little campy, what ghost hunting show isn’t, they seemed to get a lot of evidence of spirit activity.
Supposedly, a civil war soldier by the name of Henry Wood haunts the second floor of the hospital, wandering the hallways.Maybe he was a soldier killed in battle and couldn’t find his way home. Or maybe he was a former soldier that was treated at the hospital but succumbed to an illness and since he was well cared for at the hospital, he just stuck around.
There was also a presence felt in the basement. One of the investigators was talking to the spirits and he felt something pass behind him.
The basement housed the morgue, which assuredly is haunted. Or at least I think it would be. All of the lives that were lost passed through that room. But there was also something more strange down there, cages. The cages were apparently used for keeping the yellow fever victims separated.
They cleaned up the recordings from the basement investigations and when one of the guys asked, “did they keep you in here to die”, they heard a response saying something along the lines of “kept us caged”, indicating that they did cage them in to die.
I’m not really sure what they thought a cage would do, maybe just keep people from running out and spreading the disease further? It was definitely not going to keep the disease from spreading to other people in the basement.
During the two nights they spent at the hospital, they were able to catch several shadow figures on camera and the EVP meters were going crazy as the group talked to the spirits. They set up a laser beam light that when the beam was “broken” it would beep. This laser light was tripped several times while they were grouped together trying to communicate with the spirits. And probably the most entertaining, at one point, they lit a cigarette and watched it burn as if someone was taking a drag off of it.
From the looks of what evidence the ghost hunters were able to find, there are many souls still wandering the hospital and not afraid to show themselves to those who are looking for them.
In 2019, almost two decades after the property was sold, the area which contained the main hospital and nurses quarters were renovated as luxury apartments.
The Marine Residence, as of today, has a few vacancies for rent.
Can you imagine living in a renovated hospital, which has been practically proven to be haunted?!? I mean, I think it’d be amazing, but I wonder how regular people feel about it. Haha!
I wonder if the Ghost Asylum guys were able to trap Henry?
From watching the show, it didn’t seem like Henry liked them too much. It seemed he was trying to get his ghostie friends to stay at the hospital with him.
Maybe we should interview some residents and see if any of them have had any night time visitors?
If you get a chance, watch the episode of Ghost Asylum, we found it on amazon for like $3, but be aware, we warned you of the campiness.
We’ve also posted a Youtube video of someone just walking through the hospital before it was renovated. You don’t see any spirits, but you can get an idea of what it looked like before it was renovated.
It looks like it could have been the location for the American Horror Story Asylum season.
It does, but now it looks like fancy apartments. Check out the Marine Residence if you’re looking for a new place to live. We’d love to know if it’s haunted by their spirits of the past.
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