Independence State Mental Hospital Ghosts, Iowa

Mental hospitals are places of pain, fear, anger, and abandonment. Most patients who enter mental hospitals never get to see their families and relatives again. it is not unusual for mental hospitals to become haunted. Independence State Mental Hospital in Iowa is not an exception.

Independence State Mental Hospital Haunted?

Those who want to have a glimpse of the paranormal flock to Independence State Mental Hospital. The majority of the building is still currently in use but there are older parts that have been closed and are only usually opened during school tours.

These parts of the building were said to be the place for many lobotomies and electric shock therapies. People who have toured this part of the building reported hearing whispers; feeling cold drafts; and having the feeling that someone or something which cannot be seen is watching them. Those who do work in the hospital make it a point to avoid these parts because they can hear disembodied voices screaming. It seems as if the spot is still the home of patients who have not found their peace. If you want to experience a haunted hospital in Iowa then without a doubt, Independence is where you need to visit!

Brief History

Independence State Mental Hospital was built in 1873 and it was the second asylum in the state of Iowa. The hospital was built to relieve the crowding at Mount Pleasant State Hospital. It was also meant to be a place for geriatrics, alcoholics, the criminally insane, the mentally ill, and drug addicts.

The cost of constructing the hospital was more than $800,000 and it took ten years to complete it. The hospital’s architect was Stephen Vaughn Shipman. He also designed various mental institutions in Wisconsin and Illinois. Although some changes have been made to the building, it still looks the same as it did in old postcards and photographs.

The hospital is now officially known as Independence State Mental Health Institute and continues to serve as a psychiatric hospital which also has alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs. It also houses a training school for nurses. The building has been through several renovations and is still in very good shape compared to hospitals built around the same time.

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19 thoughts on “Independence State Mental Hospital Ghosts, Iowa

  1. susan Stack says:

    how do families track down these poor people deemed insane. Is there a census for the 1880’s? Michael stack was only 21 yrs old & died 5 yrs after being put in one of these places in Iowa.

    • bonnie groen says:

      I also would like to find information about the patients that were in the hospital in the 1880’s and 1900’s. Are there any records.

      • jennifer K schmidt says:

        Years ago I took a tour. They did report they kept all files on everyone that was there. Some files though might only have one page to them for their intake. I took this tour with a group of people from my work. That was probably at least 10 years ago.

  2. Alexandria Lease says:

    I was in the placement for four years and one of my peer there at the time woke up screaming saying there was old man was rocking in a chair I don’t know if it’s haunted if anything I just wanted to explore.

    • Layla Crippen says:

      I was in placement there too and was up one night. I went to the bathroom and, obviously, closed the door. I did my business and walked to the sink. The stall next to the one I was in had something in it. I looked closer and this thing was a girl with a tattered gown on. I ran out of the bathroom and cried in my room.

    • Kayla Rommann says:

      I was there as well on ward T, and a girl down the hall woke up screaming that she had cockroaches in her hair… not one of the staff thought she made it up when they turned on the lights and there were none… that’s when i figured out that place is haunted…

    • Josh says:

      I was also here for a short time, it was the most uneasy experience of my life being only 15 at the time.

  3. Audrey Muzingo says:

    I grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In (I believe) 1988 when I was 14 years old, I had a very bizarre experience with this facility. It started with a dream that my family took a car ride together (parents, sister and myself) which was odd because at this point we rarely all went anywhere together. I don’t remember anything about the drive until the part where we turned into a big, round, crumbling driveway in front of a giant abandoned building, which was on the right. It was tall, at least a few stories, very wide, made of big yellow bricks and was of some very old architectural style. I felt very scared and the worst part was looking up and seeing an expressionless face staring down from one of the windows. I turned away to look to my left instead, and saw that on the opposite side of the driveway it was all vegetation, trees and overgrown grass and scrub. As we continued the curvature of the driveway leftward and then away from the building, I noticed some distance back from the road, among the trees, was a tennis court, also dilapidated with plants growing up through cracks in its concrete.
    A few months later my dad, who was a severe alcoholic, hospitalized me with a beating which was not the norm for us kids and was mysterious in its own right (whole other story). But here’s where it comes into this story–he was court-ordered to receive inpatient alcoholic treatment “at Independence” (I had no idea where that was, never been there). I guess because we wouldn’t be seeing our dad for a while, my sister and I went along to take him to the facility. I was reading a book when we approached the grounds, and when I looked up, I was thoroughly freaked out by the sight of that huge old yellow building on my right, the greenery on my left, even the tennis court, only the place was in good condition, not in ruins like in my dream. I also did not see any ghostly faces in any windows. But that was probably the strangest experience I’ve ever had. As someone very wedded to science, I’m very skeptical of supernatural forces, but I can only guess that my dream was some kind of time-shifting blurring of the near future and very distant future, when the hospital will no longer be in use.

  4. Michael says:

    i have been there myself last year in the adolescent part. at night when i was trying to sleep this little boy would appear and ask for help. i asked staff to sit outside of my door. and i would hear stories from the rec staff i was close too about him walking in the dark out there and seeing people in the fenced in areas.

  5. Terry says:

    The most haunted place in Iowa is…MHI independence….it’s a mental health institution…insane asylum…the state of Iowa still uses it…but the state of Iowa was forced to abandon most of MHI facilitiy due to paranormal activity and evil entities…the oldest parts and sections and buildings are the most haunted and is abandoned…the aura of MHI is and energy is demonic and evil resonates and flows through MHI…when I was 15 years old the state of Iowa court ordered me and forced me to live at MHI for 2 years…that place is extremely dangerous and very haunted..if you wasn’t all ready insane before you went in there..that place will definitely make you go insane the longer you stay or is forced to live there by the state of Iowa….I’ve seen heard and felt and experienced way too many weird creepy things and encountered many evil entities thats dwell there along with the all the trapped angry lost souls of patients and doctors and staff members that haunt MHI…some of those trapped souls of dead patients told me how they died there in that insane asylum…it’s definitely creepy and scary at’s so haunted you gut paranormal activity even during the day…but when nighttime hits that when the paranormal activity is at its strongest…but if the state of Iowa ever you gives you the chance and gives you guys should definitely do some paranormal investigations at MHI independence…plus the state of Iowa don’t want very many people to know MHI is extremely dangerous and haunted..mainly really only people that knows MHI is haunted are the staff members ex-patients and current patients and visitors of patients and state officials…other then that most people don’t know MHI is extremely dangerous and Haunted….MHI is very big and at one time the whole facility was being used…but now the state of Iowa only uses about 20% of the facility and abandoned 80% percent of the institution….I’ll just be glad when they finally shut down the rest of MHI once and for all….the dead and evil entities have been trying to take over the whole entire facility but the state of Iowa isn’t quite ready to fully abandon MHI all the way yet..the dead and evil entities don’t want the living there no more…I lived at MHI from 2000 to 2002 on the children’s and adolescent wards….but I heard they shut down and abandoned the childrens and adolescent wards 10 years ago around 2008 because it became too dangerous for children and adolescents due to paranormal activity for the state of Iowa to keep using those wards…but official state cover up story is budget cuts…there’s also a vast underground tunnel system that goes from building to building and those underground tunnels are extremely creepy and very haunted…MHI even has underground bomb shelters and underground bunkers but they sealed off those parts of the tunnels that’s leads to them and abandoned those areas too because of paranormal activity…I honestly believe there’s also portals and gate ways at MHI too…MHI was built ontop of where a plantation used to be and parts of the old plantation buildings still remain but is no longer in use…back in the late 1800s and early 1900s MHI used to grow all of its own food and patients used to work those fields…MHI even has its very own grave yard and its old…when ever A patient died from torture and in cruel and unusual ways back in those times and early days of the insane asylum shortly after they built it they buried patients in that graveyard…if you guys only knew the full history of that place like I do you’d understand why it soo haunted and evil

    • Stephen Andersen says:

      I’ve been in the underground tunnels when o was there in the late 1990 in the children’s unit.

  6. Terry says:

    I have had tons of paranormal and supernatural experiences there during the 2 years I lived there….I’m extremely sensitive to the supernatural and paranormal energy that surrounds us all…But the most paranormal and supernatural energy I have ever experienced in my life was at MHI during my 2 year stay there….I’ve been in many places all over the world but non as haunted as MHI….I don’t ever plan on going back there again in my life..not even for tours…I have had way too many bad supernatural and paranormal experiences there….some of those evil entities and lost souls trapped there that haunt MHI scare me….the whole time I was there for 2 years straight everyday I had some kind of paranormal and supernatural experience…I still can’t get some of those images and wierd creepy and scary things I saw and experienced there they mentally scarred me for life…some of those paranormal, supernatural scary creepy things attacked me…seen things fly across the room and nothing you could see directly with your naked eyes picked those things up and threw them….even had a really scary experience in the underground tunnels one time in the area where one of the elevators are at…there are many different entrances into those underground tunnels…but the particular entrance was an elevator entrance that I had this scary experience at….I entered the underground tunnel system at the cafeteria ramp entrance ( the cafeteria is in a totally separate building) and was headed back to the adolescent ward ( which is in a different building then the cafeteria) so I walked through the underground tunnel from the cafeteria entrance to the elevator entrance in a different building which was the building I had to go back to…about half way through the tunnel I heard very strange noises and sensed something was following me but couldn’t see what was following me but I heard it following..even felt it touch me a couple times..but couldn’t see what it was…so I started walking faster to the elevator entrance I needed to exit the tunnels at to get back where I needed to go…it seemed like it took forever for the elevator to finally come down the elevator shaft to tunnel entrance as soon as those elevator doors open up in the tunnel I entered the elevator..the elevator doors closed behind me and the elevator started going up to the 3rd floor…then the elevator lights went out and the elevator stopped between floors 1 and floors 2…I was trapped stuck and alone in the dark on the elevator…next thing I know the elevator started shaking loud bangs on the sides top and bottom of the elevator could be heard….heard blood curdling screams felt things touch me on the elevator it was dark there was no lights this whole time…I thought I was going to die and the elevator would crash and fall for as wildly as it was shaking…then I remembered the lord and started reciting some of the scriptures and verses in the Bible and started praying out loud…I walk through the valley and shadow of death I see no evil hear no evil speak no evil and bible verses like that as I also said Jesus is my savior he died on the cross for my sins and sacrificed his life for me…as soon as I said Jesus name the lights on the elevator came back on and for a couple seconds after the lights came back on I seen a whole bunch different black shadowy pairs of hands reaching for me extending down from the elevator ceiling and that’s not the only supernatural and paranormal thing I saw after the lights come back on in the elevator…there was something else there a demonic evil entity was standing in front of me…the smell of decay and rotting was extremely cold in the elevator cold enough you can see your own breath…when the lights came back on I couldn’t believe what I saw with my own 2 eyes looking back at me….I’m glad I my cross with me..I pressed it against the evil demonic entity…he let out a huge scream and his skin started burning in the place I touched him with my cross and I said in Jesus Christ’s name I compel you and command you to leave…then all paranormal activity stopped on the elevator and it started moving again..As soon as the elevator reached the 3rd floor and the doors opened I ran as fast I could back to the adolescent ward….I tried telling staff what I saw experienced and went through they didn’t believe me…and then they gave me a shot in my Butt and put me in a straight jacket and strapped me down to a table and put me in a padded seclusion room and left me there by myself….a few days later I tried running away from MHI because of that evil demonic entity and also because no one believed me…then the state of IOWA caught me and transferred me to the locked adolescent ward across the hall from the unlocked adolescent ward….for the longest time I was scared and wouldn’t use that elevator after that and I avoided those tunnels as much as I possibly could and I made sure I had someone with me from that point on because I was scared to be by myself alone walking the campus of MHI by myself…out of everything I’ve seen felt heard and experienced that was supernatural and paranormal the whole time I was forced by Iowa to live there for 2 years…that supernatural and paranormal elevator experience with the demonic entity was the scariest one I had there the whole time I was there….now I don’t know if other people have reported seeing this evil demonic entity or not in the past besides me….I would also like to hear other peoples comments and find out if you guys have seen or experienced anything that scary or encountered that very same demonic entity that smells like death decay and rotting flesh…..I would really like to know…I will never forget what I saw smelled felt and experienced that day on that elevator…because it mentally and psychologically scared me for life….for about the last 10 years or soo I’ve researched the subject called Demonology just to try to figure out the demonic entities name and true Identity and figure out what Exactly I saw that day…also trying to figure out how that demonic entity got there in the 1st place…After 10 years of extensive in-depth research about demonology I finally figured out what demonic entity I saw..figured out its name and how it got there in the 1st place and also figured out how it entered our world…I will not say the evil demonic entities name…because just by saying it according to paranormal and supernatural investigativers and demonologists just by saying it’s name you can call it to you or summon it to you…But I left you guys some distinct clues and key identifiable traits about the evil demonic entity that’s it’s been recorded and documented by demonologists, paranormal and supernatural investigators whenever they also encountered the same evil demonic entity…I honestly believe there is more then one of the same exact kind of evil demonic entity with the same name out there that people has encountered in different areas all over the world…

  7. Armando Villarreal says:

    My 14 year old daughter is there and just got off ward visits. We walked around the grounds and over around the old activity center building. My two year old daughter was crying and looking at the building scared. As we walked around back by the porch I started getting a bad feeling. The hair on my arms was standing up and I had goosebumps. As we got in the back I got a VERY bad feeling and could sense something coming down the stairs towards the doorway which had no door. At the same time my wife turned to look saying she heard something on the porch like someone walking on something crunching it. We got a little further around the building and I got a cold chill that started on the back of my head and went down my back. I told the girls we need to leave there is something very very bad & evil in the building. As we were walking away I was taking pictures of the building. We walked a little ways and I could see my daughter was upset and crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said she saw an entity in a white gown with a very pale white face and black eyes staring at us from the front doorway as we left. I calmed her down as we walked her back to ward T. My wife, two year old & myself returned home and I began looking through the pictures I had taken. My daughter looking over her shoulder at the front door as we were walking away and there it is! Standing in the doorway, a entity in a white gown with black eyes staring at us!!! It wasn’t in the doorway in the first picture I took of the building before we walked around it. So I looked at the other pictures and in the picture of the building where I had the bad feeling & my wife heard something you can see MULTIPLE entities looking out the windows at us! MHI is a VERY HAUNTED place!! This all happened in the middle of the day around 11:30 on a Saturday afternoon. I can only IMAGINE what you would find at night!!!

    • Colin Bland says:

      Hi, my name is Colin Bland. my dad works in maintenance out at MHI and had an encounter yesterday, I was wondering if you still had the pictures by chance. he said he seen and had a conversation with a 33 year old man and about 5 minutes later he was gone and my dad thought someone was missing so he called his boss and asked and his boss asked other workers on wards out there and they said everyone was accounted for. If you still had pictures id like to see them. Thank you

  8. Rebecca says:

    I just went there yesterday to visit a friend who’s admitted there. As we drove back home (her mom and I) I brought up that I felt spirit activity there. We took lunch and ate in a commons area near the ‘canteen’ my friends 3 year old daughter who was also with us repeatedly made comments about the hallway we had to go down being too scary. While we waited for the elevator I felt as though we were being watched, I turned around to see a long empty hallway behind us and had a gut feeling of evil. My friends mother also shared that once while visiting she had husband got on the elevator and there was a custodial worker in there that to,d them to get out of that place as quickly as possible as that place is so haunted and evil. Freaked them out too!

  9. Roxane says:

    I am so sorry all of you had to suffer with that crap and the people who put you through that or put you there should be made to stay there so they could experience the same torchure you had to go through. And I mean that with all my heart

  10. Tanja Tirado says:

    You guys are amazing!!! I can’t imagine the fear and pain you must’ve felt from the “insane” atmosphere you’ve endured. The tunnels, with the cages and the made up stories!!!

    I loved the staff that helped me. The events that all of us “CRAZY” kids developed relationships with each other.

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