Central State opened in 1851 and was where people with mental problems were sent to get treatment in the middle 19th century. Typically, if you were sent to Central State, you didn’t get out.
In 1863, a fire ravaged the west wing of the building, and six inmates died from smoke inhalation.
Central State was said to be a violent place where patients murdered other patients. Former employees tell stories of seeing inmates having to be tazed with a stun gun in order to be restrained by multiple orderlies. It wasn’t uncommon to see patients throw things or attack doctors and orderlies. The staff was put in situations where they had to use force with patients in order to defend themselves.
Central State was such a toxic environment that several staff members were eventually committed themselves over the years and forced to live amongst the inmates they treated.
Inmates were always trying to escape. Over the years, several of them were successful, but inmates were usually found in neighborhoods nearby and brought back to the institution.
In 1995, Dell Computers took over the property. A guard stand still stands on Murfreesboro Road from its days as Central State and is the only thing left from its days as a mental hospital.
Over a thousand inmates are buried on the property. Since Central State was built before segregation, there is a black cemetery and a white cemetery. 137 inmates were buried in the black cemetery, and over a thousand men were buried in the white cemetery. Sadly, due to the Dell facility construction in the 1990s, the cemetery’s location is not exactly known. Pieces of headstones have been discovered on the property, but no one knows where the former inmates were buried.
Since the construction of the Dell campus employees have mentioned hearing voices in halls and experiencing strange things at work. Employees have seen faucets turn themselves on in the bathroom and fell like they are being watched in different parts of the campus.
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