The public poorhouses that you read about in Dickens novels are gone, having been replaced with welfare hotels, housing projects, and homeless shelters. The Knox County Poorhouse in Ohio was once such an institution.
Constructed in 1875, Knox County Poorhouse sheltered the poor, homeless and orphaned. During a time when mental illness was still considered innately wrong, parents would often abandon children whose behaviour deviated from what was considered “normal”. Many of the rooms were occupied by the elderly who simply didn’t have the means to support themselves. Rooms were overrun with occupants, leaving staff unable to provide an acceptable standard of living.
Reused as a Bible college since then, the structure has been empty for decades. The delapidated building is rumored to be haunted by the tortured souls who lived and died there. And thanks to urban explorers, you can take a look inside in a series of photographs at Urban Ghosts. Link
(Image credit: Flickr user Justin Masterson)