Rolling Hills Asylum
Early asylums were known for some cruel and horrific procedures that were considered treatment at the time. Lobotomies were common, as were ice cold water baths. The worst offenders were often kept in complete isolation, and sometimes chained to their beds or chained to the walls. At the time, this was considered the best treatment. The case of the Rolling Hills Asylum is very similar.
The Rolling Hills Asylum has been known as other things over the years including the Genesee County Home, and more recently the Rolling Hills Country Mall. Over 1,000 people died there over the years, though no one is quite sure how many, if any, were buried on the property.
Rolling Hills opened in 1827, the year after the county purchased the land for use as a county poorhouse. County poorhouses were quite common at the time. Those who found themselves there often chose the poorhouse as a last resort, when they had nothing else and nowhere else to turn.
A poorhouse was usually very similar to early asylums, though without the harsh treatments. The people inside were a mixture of parentless children, the mentally insane, those without any money, and even a few criminals. There were also stories of children who would dump their elderly parents at a poorhouse, rather than care for them.
Rolling Hills later served as a mental asylum, and in the 1950’s became a nursing home. A number of transitions such as this one were seen over the years. When the government stopped providing enough funds to maintain a mental institution, the owners would turn the building into a nursing home, or retirement home instead of closing completely.
In 1974 the nursing home was closed, and the building officially became vacant and unused. Carriage Village opened there in 1992, turning this former mental asylum into a shopping mall. In 2003 the name was officially changed to the Rolling Hills Country Mall.
Today there are dozens of stories related to the Rolling Hills Asylum regarding ghosts and hauntings. Some claim to have seen people standing inside, staring out of the windows when the building is empty. Others have heard odd noises coming from inside, and what sounds like people crying or wailing.
There are stories told of ghosts that roam through the building after dark. Those inside have heard the sounds of people talking, and feel a cold hand on their back. Others have seen doors and windows open and close on their own, and the sounds of someone or something knocking on the walls. Some have also seen objects move on their own, and even see full body apparitions.
There are a number of rumors surrounding Rolling Hills, and it can sometimes be hard to separate the truth from fiction. Some claim that there are hundreds of unmarked graves scattered around the buildings. Mental asylums often buried patients on their grounds when they could not afford a proper burial. A small stone or wood marker would be used to mark their final resting place, and these markers have been known to disintegrate over the years.
Another story told regarding Rolling Hills relates to its time as a poorhouse and orphanage. There are people who say that kids living there were sometimes sold to people in the area. These kids worked the farms, or did what their “owner” told them. It’s hard to believe that New York would allow this kind of behavior.
The most popular legends told of Rolling Hills relate to Satanic cults and black magic. Stories say that nurses working there practiced the dark arts, and were not above using patients and inhabitants for their needs. The darker stories even claim that nurses and doctors would sacrifice babies born to unwed mothers, and smaller orphans. There are also claims that the practices have continued into the present day. There seems to be something about the building that breeds dark arts lovers.
Rolling Hills is open to the public, and they do offer nighttime haunted tours for those investigators that would like to hunt for spirits themselves.