Since its founding in 1842, the Central State Hospital Campus (originally known as the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum) has been one of MIlledgeville’s most well known and intriguing sites. The site gained national recognition during the 1960s as the United States’ largest mental institution with over 12,000 patients, 6,000 employees, and more than 8,000 acres of land. Today, Central State Hospital serves over 200 existing patients and has downsized to roughly 2,000 acres of land.
The campus is active throughout the year with special events held throughout the grounds. Just a short trip from Atlanta, here are five can’t miss events to explore the former Central State Hospital Campus further.
1. Bike the April Fools Ride
Take two wheels and plan a scenic pedal with Bike Walk Baldwin’s 14th annual April Fools Ride! Hosted on Saturday, March 28, the annual ride kicks-off overlooking the pecan grove of the former Central State Hospital campus. This year, choose from the scenic 31, 63, and 80 mile routes and enjoy breakfast, 4 fully provisioned rest stops and SAG support. Featuring a variety of routes, climbing terrain and easy-going fun, there is a great ride option for cycling enthusiasts of various levels!
Registration ride pricing includes a ride t-shirt, light breakfast, SAG and a $5 Milly Money lunch voucher to be used at a variety of restaurants downtown. Entry fees start at $30.
2. Ride the Trolley
For those interested in exploring the history of the former Central State Hospital campus, a monthly trolley tour is your perfect chance! Board 'Milly' the trolley and set out on a guided driving tour through the grounds of the former Central State Hospital, including a stop at Cedar Lane Cemetery. Hear about the history of the institution as well as the redevelopment of the grounds from a former Central State employee and tour guide.
This 1 ½ hour guided tour is $25 per person and will take place on the 4th Saturday each month from 1:30 - 3 pm and 3:30 - 5 pm. Tickets will go on sale the first Monday of that month at 9 a.m. The tour is scheduled for April 25, tickets will go on sale Monday, April 6.
3. Listen to Live Music
Kick back under shady trees and the grand backdrop of Central State’s iconic Powell Building as you enjoy an afternoon of live music, barbeque, brews, and local craft vendors. On Saturday, April 25, join Georgia's Old Capital Heritage Center at The Depot, Inc. for the inaugural Bluegrass, Brew & ‘Que Festival. Hosted from 2-8 pm, attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or a lawn chair to relax on the Powell lawn while listening to the sounds of Blue Sky Blue, Sweet Auburn, and The Bluegrass Sounds. Don’t miss out on the delicious Georgia Bob’s BBQ being dished out on site!
Photo credit to Instagram user @kappaccinos
4. Watch a Horror Flick on the Lawn
If you are an indie and horror film fan, you will love the opportunity to spend a few hours in the dark at Central State Hospital. The campus will serve as center stage for the ME Film Festival’s signature Thursday night event. Short horror films submitted to the festival will be shown outdoors on the campus grounds near the Chapel of All Faiths on a 24-foot inflatable screen.
The ME Film Festival is an event created by filmmakers, for filmmakers and film enthusiasts. The festival in its entirety will take place May 18-24 and sticks close to its Southern Gothic theme, a term often associated with the work of renowned Milledgeville author Flannery O’Connor.
5. Run the Thriller 5K
Looking for an event to get your heart pounding? Join the Milledgeville Young Professionals as they host the frightfully fun 8th Annual Thriller 5K on Friday, October 16th. Kicking off at sunset in the Pecan Grove at the historic Central State Hospital campus, the Thriller 5K loops racers through the most historic and iconic points on campus. Runners beware - for a fun Halloween twist, zombies chase the racers around the 5K loop. The event benefits Keep Milledgeville-Baldwin Beautiful & Zeta Tau Alpha - Georgia College to benefit Breast Cancer Education & Awareness.