Some People Call It A Spirit, I Call It A Ghost.....Umm Hmm.

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Some People Call It A Spirit, I Call It A Ghost.....Umm Hmm.

Post by Merc4Hire-ARPAST on Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:37 am

This is a bit different kind of thread than what might usually be posted in this section, but thought that I'd let you study it & salivate over investigating this place some day. Sure, it's a LONG ways away from where GHoST is based, but as I said....just something to dream about doing someday. You KNOW you want to. Smile Smile

Remember the movie Slingblade?? Remember that Karl mentioned that he had just got out of the State Hospital?? What is featured i this thread IS that hospital, which I'm well familar with. No, I wasn't ever committed here (I was committed to Fort Roots, across the river. Very Happy Laughing cheers ) But I worked with a major utility company for a while around Little Rock & Benton. I had business inside this facility several dozen times, mainly with meter servicing.

The latter city above is where the movie was based at, & is where this facility is located at. (It's actually closer to Haskell, but no one wants to claim they live in Haskell, so they say Benton.) Although I don't believe any part of this hospital is actually SHOWN in the movie, several other Benton locations are. The dairy bar where Karl bought the "French Fried Taters" is real, but has been closed for a long time. That part of the movie was simply staged at the old building. The vacuum shop with the waving gorilla is real & still in business. The gorilla was actually out there on the sidewalk BEFORE the movie & has since been moved inside, after becoming a movie star.

Just including the above as some trivia. Now, here is some real-life history of the place.

The "Arkansas Lunatic Asylum" was established in 1873, in Little Rock. Over the years, the name was changed to "State Hospital for Nervous Diseases", "Arkansas State Hospital", then to "Arkansas Mental Health Services". Needing room to grow (and most likely because of public pressure to move it somewhere farther away), the facility was moved to already government land at this location in 1929 & renamed "Benton State Hospital". This is still in common use today, even though the scope of operations here, & the name, are completely different.

In 1971, due to modern medicine being able to treat these patients more effectively, the large facility....basically designed to "get rid of the crazy people"....was no longer needed. The treatment center was moved back to the UAMS campus in Little Rock, renamed "State Hospital", & placed under the jurisdiction of "Division of Mental Health Services".

The buildings stayed empty for a couple years, but then various state-operated programs started moving in. The facility was again renamed to it's current "Benton Services Center", to more accurately reflect the fact that the place was being used for several projects. In the mid-70's, a portion of the more run-down buildings were demolished, & a modern nursing home, + associated offices, were built in their place. This is still a state-run organization & is still involved in mental health. But it's mission is strictly for older patients, such as those with Altheimer's that have no relatives who can take care of them.

Other sections of the BSC are used for work-release juvenile offenders with minor convictions & a couple of private organizations, mainly involved in adult education & helping parents with slightly retarded children. No actual truly insane individals are housed here anymore.

So, with that little introduction, let me hit on a few reasons that I think this might be a good location for paranormal research. First off...AS FAR AS I KNOW...no strange events are commonly reported from here. However, for reasons I never could really find out, news about this place is EXTREMELY hard to locate. I've got a few theories behind that.

First, for modern news, it's because of the sensitive nature of what the facility does & privacy of the patients. No one really wants anyone to know that their grandfather is in a home for senior citizens with mental problems. And no one wants anyone to know that their son is in prison....even if it is for a minor conviction. So that's understandable for the silence of what goes on there today.

But now to the darker reasons of why PAST news is hard to find. The reason may simply be that the facility was designed to "get the crazy people out of sight, out of mind". No one really CARED to document the history of the place. But we also have to look at some other reasons, that we know unfortunately went on in the past. The facility had a dedicated full-service hospital, used solely for committed patients. (This is still true, although it's more of an advanced clinic now.)

We've ALL heard stories at what went on in these hospitals decades ago....lobotomies, experimentation, abuse, you name it. Perhaps THAT'S why no real history of the place can be found. (I do know that the facility destroyed records of who had died there after 20 years. Don't know why though. It had a graveyard used for the bodies that nobody would claim. Many people today, interested in researching their ancestors, have a difficult time retrieving records of any family members committed to the place before the 70's.)

The facility was partially self-sufficient at one time, having it's own power-plant, water/sewage treatment, etc. It also had several acres of gardens & a small herd of cattle. The produce from the gardens were used for resident's meals, as well as the cattle being occasionally butchered for the same. Patients who were able to were encouraged to help tend the gardens & take care of the cattle. This was billed as "therapy", and it may well have been, giving the patients time outside in the air & some pride at having a meaningful job.

But there are also unconfirmed rumours that patients were occasionally used almost as slave labor. Just being the type of facility it was, money was always tight. In the 30's, 40's, 50's, & maybe as late as the 60's, no one really cared to admit the state supported this type of hospital. So the facility had to sometimes come up with imaginative ways to make money. This could have involved over-producing the gardens & selling the excess vegetables, contracting for certain types of low-paying jobs that no "normal" citizen wanted to do....say, maybe stuffing pillows, and perhaps even using the facilities large laundry building to wash clothes and/or uniforms for local farmers and factories.

And too, there is the possibility that the state, owning the facility, used the free labor here for their own purposes, such as painting early highway signs. Regardless of what went on like this, I think it would be safe to say that it DID at some time in the hospital's past. And most likely, the patients committed here weren't the ones getting the better end of the deal.

The above reasons, coupled with the age of the buildings, gives me a really intense feeling that this would be an ideal location for paranormal phenomenon. And too, these are REALLY big multi-story buildings with lots of rooms....some of them are still abandoned also. I don't know if these are in "care-taker status" or not. It just seems to me that ghosts prefer a big building, with a basement & lots of rooms. Smile Smile

I'm 99% sure that, if any group ever wanted to conduct an investigation here, that it wouldn't be easy to get permission, especially with the fact that the Dept. of Corrections uses a portion of it. But the Benton Services Center is one that we (the paranormal investigation community as a whole) needs to put on our list. Perhaps someday, we might get lucky. I'd LOVE to participate in & see the results of a multi-day investigation of this place.

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Re: Some People Call It A Spirit, I Call It A Ghost.....Umm Hmm.

Post by Merc4Hire-ARPAST on Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:46 am

Here is a mosaic of the entire place. Click on the image for a MUCH larger version, which SHOULD open in another window, that has the boundarys mapped & important buildings/areas marked. (Scratch that part, until I can figure out what type of BBCode this board uses. For the big version, just click on the link.)

Big One Stays Over Here.



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Re: Some People Call It A Spirit, I Call It A Ghost.....Umm Hmm.

Post by Merc4Hire-ARPAST on Sat Apr 19, 2008 2:10 am

A few tidbits about the image above (use the big one to follow along easier):

"Cottage Hill" is another of those mysteries I never figured out. The houses are about 1950's-60's vintage, well took care of & refurbished. That would place them in the time period when the hospital was in full operation. I'm not sure if these were houses furnished or rented to the workers & nurses....or if they were houses available to patients who were just mildly handicapped & able to take care of themselves. Other possibilities include houses for married couple that were both handicapped to a small degree, or for a family which had only on handicapped member, but the others wanted to take care of them personally, but still have quick access to the hospital.

Likewise, today, I have no idea who lives there. There's really not ALOT of employees there anymore, maybe 3-5 dozen total. I have a feeling that most of them live in Little Rock, Bryant, or Benton. As stated above, this place doesn't really take care of young-to-middle-age patients anymore, only the older ones. I'm 98% sure that they would be required to stay in the modern nursing home. But SOMEBODY lives in each of these fairly nice houses. Maybe they are just rent houses, to help the center make a little extra money....don't know.

I have no idea why they decided to put the livestock barns on the other side of the highway, which has been there forever. As stated previously, some of the patients were "encouraged" (??) to help out here. I don't think it would have been a good idea for mental patients to have to cross a highway to get to work. And it's not like the center didn't have plenty of pasture land to the South & East. Regardless, these barns are completely abandoned now. Don't THINK any ghosts would live here, unless cows make ghosts too. The modern building here has been added since the last time I was around the center. I don't know what it's for, but have an idea that it's some part of the school that is located a mile or so East of here.

The "Old Park" is just a crumbling pavilion, couple of old picnic tables, & some kind of water-pump building...unused I think. It's all behind a locked gate & not open to the public, nor anymore used by the center. I have a feeling that patients who could be trusted were allowed to go down here occasionally....not sure though.

The graveyard has already been explained. If no one claimed your body, here's where you were buried. Not used anymore & maybe 200-300 graves here. The nearby water-tower & grey-topped building are in the city of Haskell & have nothing to do with the center.

The "Laundry" is completely abandoned & a pretty big building. Same with the "Powerhouse". Just left of the laundry & above the powerhouse is another abandoned building, barely visible in the trees, a little bit smaller than an average house. I can't remember what this one was for. But "Pump" comes to mind....sewer or water maybe??

"Supervisor's Residence" is exactly what it says & still used for that purpose. "Firehouse" also. It's a full-time one, not volunteer, so I think the firefighters are employees of the center. Not sure if this is an original building or not.

The group of modern buildings in the middle are pretty much self-explanatory. No ghosts live here, unless he became a ghost after the 1970's. Some original buildings were tore down to make room for these. The foundations are still there. It didn't look to me like these old buildings were big ones like the originals left West of here.

"Maintenance" is just a big shop...lawnmowers, stuff like that. Original building. The "Main Office" is an original 1930'ish vintage, as are the other originals on-site. It's pretty big & very picturesque....located in that circle drive that joins both main entrances. The shadows don't show it, but seems like this one was either 3 or 4 stories tall, while the others were 1 story shorter.

The old hospital has a commanding view of most the facility, situated on a slight hill. If any place here is haunted, this building is probably one of them. No telling what kind of stuff went on in there during the 30's & 40's. The block of original dormitory-type buildings West of the hospital are where the prisoners are housed. There's not very many of them here & I can't remember if they use all 5 of the buildings or just the 2 closest to the highway. The guards get really irritated if you park here & don't lock your doors & roll the windows up. If you do, then one of them has to stand by your vehicle until you return. He'll then proceed to give you a butt-chewing. Smile Smile

To the North of this block is the original "Library", now converted into offices for various projects. I thik it's a disgrace that they don't have a small portion of this as a museum. A place like this has alot of history behind it. But, I've stated previously how infomation about the center is hard to come by & some theories as to why that is. Regardless, nobody here really knows anymore than a person that walks in off the street.....I tried asking one time. Smile Smile

And finally, on across the neat double-drive, is the REALLY exciting part of the complex, as far as paranormal investigators are concerned. These are all original buildings from the 30's & 40's.....something like that. They are in pretty good shape, no broken windows, busted doors, nothing like that. That makes me think that they are kept in a "Care-taken status". Most of these 7 buildings (a small one hidden in the trees) are completely abandoned, or at least VERY sparingly used. You can tell this by the number of cars in the parking lots.

These are either 2 or 3 stories & also have a full-size basement. Compare them to the average size houses on "Cottage Hill" to get an idea of the floor-size. While the old hospital may have the MOST reason for being haunted, it's been modernized & has around-the-clock employees within. This could hamper any investigation. These buildings house nothing but the spirits of those who were once committed to this place.

Perhaps someday, some of us might can get the proper permission to investigate some of these buildings. I certainly hope so. If, by chance, any group ever wants to try, I'd be happy to start the initial process of asking & interviewing. But obviously I can't promise if I'd get anywhere with it. All I'd ask in return is to be one of the investigators.

I'm going to make one further post to this thread, with close-ups of the buildings that I think would be most interesting. Just as an example of that "no information" problem I've already mentioned, I can't find actual pictures & the place is a bit too far from me to go take any soon (I definitely WOULD for a serious investigation proposal however). So you'll just have to be satisfied with these aerial shots.


Last edited by Merc4Hire on Sat Apr 19, 2008 4:00 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Some People Call It A Spirit, I Call It A Ghost.....Umm Hmm.

Post by Merc4Hire-ARPAST on Sat Apr 19, 2008 3:10 am

The old hospital, new again:





The main office, in it's pretty circle drive:





The old laundry:





The old cemetary, no new applications accepted:





The abandoned quarter, spirit-central. (NOTE: Since I was last here, it appears that the small hidden building, previously unused, has gotten itself a new roof. I don't know wat they use it for now.) :





If ya'll found this interesting, I can do one more for you. Fort Roots, the VA hospital that I use in North Little Rock, has many original buildings from about 1880-1940. It shares an eerily similar history with the Benton Service Center. Like the BSC, Fort Roots info is hard to come by, although I have gathered a decent amount. UNLIKE the BSC, I know that at least one building DOES have a history of paranormal happenings. Just let me know.

The city of Eureka Springs also is a well-known haunt, but it is so well documented that I probably couldn't add much to what's already out there. Several Civil War battlefields exist in the state, some well preserved. I'm sure that some of them have reported activity, which is typical. If so, then this is probably already ot there on the web too.

But I can think of 2 more old places which would make excellent targets. I don't THINK either would make avery interesting post like this one, since they are only single buildings. One is the old VA hospital in Little Rock, partially abandoned for a couple decades now. The other is the old Army/Navy Hospital in Hot Springs. It's from about the 20's or so & is no longer a hospital, but is being used for some purpose. Not sure what however.

And remember....I know this is exactly OPPOSITE of what we are SUPPOSE to do as professinal investigators....but if you ever get a chance to investigate the old State Hospital, and something behind you says, "Some folks call it a sling blade, I call it a kaiser blade. Uum Hmm."......................................RUN!!! Shocked Shocked Shocked

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Re: Some People Call It A Spirit, I Call It A Ghost.....Umm Hmm.

Post by Syren Song on Sat Apr 19, 2008 9:42 am

WOW! That is a whole lot of information!! You really know a lot about this place, don't know? It seems to me, given the background of this place, it would be likely that there would be paranormal activity here. I actually haven't even seen Slingblade myself lol, so you lost me there. I'm going to have to read through this some more!

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Re: Some People Call It A Spirit, I Call It A Ghost.....Umm Hmm.

Post by Merc4Hire-ARPAST on Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:08 am

w1ngs0fate wrote:..........I actually haven't even seen Slingblade myself lol.......

Do it...Smile

Here's enough information about the show to give you it's general plot & also to let you know how I came up with the title of this thread. Uum Hmm.


Karl Is Over Here. Uum Hmm.

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Re: Some People Call It A Spirit, I Call It A Ghost.....Umm Hmm.

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