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Jefferson Davis Hospital Returns From the Dead

If there is any “fame” in the world of urban exploration, then the old Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston, Texas should be considered one of the state's most FAMOUS legendary abandoned places. Immense, historic, and incredibly creepy, with a past to rival the scariest ghost story and a foundation literally built right on top of an old cemetery, this bastion of abandoned spookiness sat vacant for over twenty long years behind its razor-wire-topped fence, a beacon to the bravest of urban explorers and ghost hunters for decades.

But all of that is ending, and not in the way that most people assumed it would. After a 2003 incident in which a group of teenage explorers were shot at and then robbed at gunpoint by a group of criminals while inside the old hospital, the general concensus was that the place was destined to be torn down. Instead, a coalition of groups and volunteers has come together to save and renovate the historic old place, and to make it into a series of artists’ lofts. That's right, people are going to live there! And with the past reputation of this creepy place, one can only wonder what the future tenants might encounter within its walls.

The Jeff Davis Hospital was originally opened in 1924, and was the first city-owned hospital that accepted indigent patients. The hospital itself was built on land donated to the city by Houston's founders, and unbeknownst to some, this land actually happened to be an 1800's cemetery filled with the remains of Houstonians from all walks of life––former slaves, Civil War veterans, victims of the yellow fever and cholera epidemics, and city aldermen. Whether or not the bodies were disinterred and moved is a matter of debate––it seems no one is sure. But until the 1980's some of the graves on the grounds were still marked, and bones were still being unearthed during various constructions on adjacent lots in 1986, so it would seem possible that the entire hospital still sits atop the final resting places of many dead.

There are many who believe that the angry spirits of these disrupted dead made their presence known from Jeff Davis' start––the hospital always seemed to have a higher-than-usual occurrence of strange encounters. Many patients, visitors, and even hospital employees reportedly saw eerie figures in the hallways and heard the crying of disembodied voices. Even years after the hospital was no longer in use and sat neglected and empty, rumors of hauntings at Jeff Davis persisted. Some even say that the many patients who died there only added to the ghostly population. Many of those who were brave enough to explore its dark and rotting halls claimed to have felt watchful eyes on them, or to have heard or seen some of the various spectral anomalies said to haunt the hospital.

When we visited Jeff Davis, reconstruction of the building was in full-swing, with hardhat-wearing workers scurrying on all floors to renovate the premises as security guards kept a watchful eye. All of the windows had already been replaced, the grounds were clean and fenced in, and all we were allowed to photograph was the front of the place (from outside the gate). It was a little disappointing to not have been able to see the old Jeff Davis of urban-exploration legend, with its many jagged broken windows and halls filled with darkness. But it is cool to know that rather than being demolished, this spooky old treasure is going to be preserved. And it sure will be interesting to see what happens when the energy of the living fills its rooms once again. One can only wonder how the many spirits will react to that. We shall wait and see.

Weird Texas

 

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