Sunday, March 6, 2011
Highland Hospital (Asheville, North Carolina)
Chief Fitzgerald said he believed today's fire started in the kitchen of the hospital's central building. But that had not been officially determined. DR. B. T. Bennett, hospital medical director, estimated the fire loss at $300,000. Miss Betty Uboenga of Lincoln, Ill., assistant supervisor, described how she and Supervisor Frances Render of Scarboro, W. Va., first went after the helpless patients. "We felt that the others were awake and would help themselves," she said. "As soon as we got the helpless ones out and safely put away elsewhere, we rushed back to help others. By then we knew some had been trapped. Some of them were awake, we know, and were rousing the others. It seemed no time at all until the entire building was like a furnace."
Florence Morning News (South Carolina) 12 March 1948.
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (July 24, 1900 – March 10, 1948), born Zelda Sayre in Montgomery, Alabama, was an American novelist and the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1936, Zelda entered the Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, and she was in and out of this facility until her death. Scott died in Hollywood in 1940, having last seen Zelda a year and a half earlier. She spent her remaining years working on a second novel, which she never completed, and she painted extensively. In 1948, the hospital at which she was a patient caught fire, causing her death. On the night of March 10, 1948, a fire broke out in the hospital kitchen. It moved through the dumbwaiter shaft, spreading onto every floor. The fire escapes were wooden, and caught fire as well. Nine women, including Zelda, died.
In 1939, the founder of the Highland Hospital Dr. Robert S. Carroll entrusted the hospital to the Neuropsychiatric Department of Duke University. It was during this time that on the night of March 10, 1948, the deadly fire mentioned above broke out in the main building and took the lives of nine women. Duke owned the property until the 1980s, and today the complex functions as an office park and shopping plaza.
National Register of Historic Places: http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/asheville/hig.htm
Hi all. I'm not sure if anyone has ever really tried to investigate the old Highland Hospital, or even knows the history.
March 10, 1948 a fire was started in the diet kitchen of the women's building. All of the more "ambulatory" patients had been heavily medicated and locked in their rooms.
There were bars on the windows which was illegal because the building was not up to code. One of the night supervisors, Willie Mae I believe her name was, told another woman that if there just happened to be a fire that night, not to call to FD, but to try to reach her at the Oak Hall, which this woman did. The fire report I have says that the fire had been burning for around 30-45 minutes before they were ever notified. Willie Mae later turned herself in for fear that she might set another fire, never really admitting to setting the first series of fires.
That night, nine woman were killed in the fire, including Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott. She lead a very tragic life. One of the more interesting things about this is, she was free to leave the facility but decided to stay on another week or so just to make sure that she was really ok. When leaving her mother's home in Alabama, Zelda rushed back to the door and said "Mama, it's ok, I'm not afraid to die" fled back to the taxi and left for the last time.
For those who don't know, Highland Hospital was a mental institution, opened its doors around 1908 I believe, changed hands in the late 30's to Duke *who has fewer records than our local library*, then again in the 80's, it has since shut down and been leased out to Genova Diagnostics. The administrative building is now for sale/lease, Homewood, the stone structure, served as home to the doctor who opened the facility and sometimes housed patients, is now available for rent for events. Highland Hall is a hospice, I think, the other buildings are newer. The building that caught fire, burned completely to the ground, as the firemen were deployed too late to do anything but watch in horror. Oak Hall has been torn down, which I angrily believe was to facilitate the construction of the apartments where I live.
I'm a bit long winded, could you tell?
I can look out my bedroom window and see the spot where Zelda Fitzgerald died, I think that is awesome. I became a bit obsessed with researching this, I still have a few loose strings to tie up.
There is something off about the place. I tend to "pick up" spirits, in a quite literal sense. They just get "attached" to my person, and I believe my latest "friend" was someone who died there.
We never got to do the seance on March 10 this year as I work odd hours and needed to sleep. But we did break out the Ouija a few days prior, and there is a very angry spirit around here somewhere, says her name is Ann. I'm pretty sure the other people weren't moving anything because it started to pick on me a bit and they snatched it away to take outside to burn, game over.
There was a 19 year old boy who killed himself here in November, not in the building where to other incident took place though.
Have there been any investigations into the hospital?
Is anyone else interested?
Posted Apr 25, 2007 10:53 PM to The Asheville Paranormal Society Message Board (http://www.meetup.com/ashevilleparanormalsociety/messages/boards/thread/3003443?thread=3003443)
Historic Montford boasts the highest concentration of bed & breakfasts in Asheville. The neighborhood mirrors in subtle ways Asheville's cosmopolitan character at the turn of the century. Artistic influences in the town, including details from national architectural trendsetters like Bruce Price, Bernard Maybeck and Frank Lloyd Wright. It is also where Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, died in the Old Highland Hospital formerly located at the north end of Montford.
Ghost Hunters of Asheville
Highland Hospital Haunts
The Asheville Fire Department
National Register of Historic Places
at 8:48 AM