In 2009, a friend and I explored some of the Rosewood Asylum in Owings Mills, Maryland, and the facility at that time neared closure. Founded in 1888, Rosewood, originally named Asylum and Training School for the Feeble-Minded, underwent several name changes until finally becoming Rosewood Center in 1969. We took these photos shortly before a fire destroyed one of the buildings, and not long after the fire, the facility closed permanently. Purchased by Stevenson University, Rosewood now waits to be demolished for use as athletic fields.
Welcome to Rosewood
Rosewood has a long, disturbing history with serious allegations of abuse. If walls could talk, I would be frightened to hear what they say. At the time of this facility’s construction, the mentally ill were often warehoused in places such as Rosewood.
A multipurpose facility of some kind we named the Church Building. The building seemed to be used for Sunday services.
Rosewood became the center of controversy multiple times throughout its history. The most notable incident occurred in 1937 which came to be known as the Rosewood Girls case. Leo Kanner, the physician who discovered Autism, served as whistleblower in the Rosewood Girls case. He discovered rich families of Baltimore were adopting mentally challenged teens and adult women and turning them into household slaves. These women and children endured physical and sexual abuse before being kicked to the street when the family became dissatisfied with them. (Amazingly, sick people don’t make the best servants.) You can read more about this case on Slate.
Rosewood in 2009 Winter
There were many rumors of abuse surrounding Rosewood and the facility closed due to poor treatment of patients. The stories are mired in both fact and fiction making the truth difficult to discern. One such story claimed tunnels with secret cages for unruly patients resided beneath Rosewood. Finding these cages and obtaining pictures formed the goal of our exploration.
There were many buildings, some too old and dangerous to explore.
There were many buildings at Rosewood, and nearly impossible to explore all of them. There were guards patrolling, but they rarely came into the abandoned areas. I never saw security near any of the abandoned buildings. (Perhaps it was too scary for them.) In early morning or late night, you didn’t need to worry about security.
Likely a facility for teens, this building scared the most because of extreme darkness.
We called this building the adolescent ward because it appeared to house teens. We decided to explore this building which was extremely dark and unnerving. We made our way inside and to the basement attempting to find the tunnels.
Resident of the basement of the asylum?
Keep in mind that this basement had no windows and flashlights only penetrated the darkness to some degree. This appeared be an empty shower room. The room unnerved me, and later when we enhanced the photos, we were surprised to see what looks like someone sitting on the floor by the far wall. Perhaps a homeless person, but what creepy, dark place to hang out.
This was some sort of administrative building.
We explored the grounds looking for an entrance to the tunnels outside but found nothing. Many of the buildings had this similar stone design.
Rear of Administrative Buildings
There were many administrative buildings filled with desks and file cabinets, but these buildings were too dangerous to explore. We decided to come back on a different day because we were trespassing, and during the day, the security tightened.
We called this the Children’s Ward because the toys inside indicated this building housed young children.
We decided to investigate the Children’s Ward on a different day. The morning was dark and overcast and the building silent, creepy, and ominous.
The front of the Children’s Ward. Sadly, a computer error resulted in a loss of many of the original high-quality photos.
The Children’s Ward was one of the scariest buildings at Rosewood. When you enter the building, you find it filled with old wheelchairs and outdated machines. Noises from different floors of the building make you stop and listen, thinking someone is present, but we never saw anyone.
I’m sure all this was state of the art back in the 70s.
Ascending the stairs, we found rooms and halls littered with toys and clothing. At times, I wondered if those in charge just walked out and locked the door, giving no thought to what was left behind.
Fun things to see in the dark creepy asylum.
We descended the stairs finding a pair of shoes which appeared to be walking up the staircase. As we passed the shoes, we made our way to a basement locker room with a security station. Paintings decorated the security glass reminding us that children lived and played here once. The pictures were hand painted with watercolor and you could tell they were done by kids. The paintings fascinated me in the realization that beauty was still possible — even in places as sad as Rosewood.
Artwork of patients painted with water color on security glass.
Making our way past the security glass, we entered a gymnasium. Against the far wall a doorway hung in the middle of the far wall. An old desk beneath seemed to be positioned to allow access. We found the tunnel, but because of the growing daylight, we decided to come back a different day to explore.
The tunnel under Rosewood.
My only ghost photo. Who are these folks?