Update: Building was gutted by fire on June 28, 2015 and of April 2016 it been entirely demolished.
Built in the 19th century, this dilapidated Victorian Gothic building is the centerpiece of the quiet little hamlet of Bangs, Ohio. The massive, multi-story brick building briefly laid claim to the title of largest building in the state of Ohio. Although it has not been able to claim this title in quite some time, this edifice still stands in stark contrast to the few buildings of Bangs surrounding it - a cluster of single story homes and a pair of churches. This juxtaposition between the old building and its surrounding low, rural landscape gives it the feel of a place from a Stephen King novel.
The creepy, unsettling nature of the Knox County Poorhouse extends beyond just an uncanny vibe. Its ownership has changed several times, leading it in the downward spiral to its dilapidated state of the present day. As the name would suggest, the initial purpose of this building was to house the poor and destitute of the then sparsely populated Knox County in central Ohio. Later, it was re-purposed as an infirmary, before being abandoned for the first of several times in its history of neglect.
In the middle 20th century, the Mt Vernon Bible College took over operation of the old brick building and repaired it. The building was once again abandoned, though, when the Bible College left it to relocate to Virginia. As the building lay dormant, its emptiness and disrepair built a spooky reputation in the area. Capitalizing on this, a staged haunted house began operating the facility under the name of “House of Nightmares.” Although extensive work was put into staging sets within the building, little attention was given to maintenance. A partial, internal structural collapse in 2006 permanently closed the facility to the public, and ownership switched to a private landholder who now maintains the grounds.
For those curious and bold enough to enter, this building’s guts are loaded with relics of every stage of its use. No previous tenant has completely cleaned up. Medical equipment, elaborate (but low-cost) sets, paintings, and much more still fill each dust-covered corridor.
Know Before You Go
On US-36 / OH-3, travel three miles southwest of Mount Vernon, Ohio. Turn south onto Johnstown Rd. and the Poorhouse is on a loop at the corner of Johnstown Rd. and Possum St., with additional parking space on Possum St.