Haunted Swingle Hospital?

For years, stories of the Swingle Hospital haunting in Johnson City, Tennessee have circulated statewide and beyond. Visions of horrific surgeries gone awry and the mad Doctor Swingle have been planted in the heads of enthralled listeners. But the truth is, not much actually happened at the Swingle Mansion.

The haunted legend of Swingle Hospital that is often relayed is this:

Swingle Hospital was built near Science Hill High School and Heritage Manor as Johnson City’s first hospital and private residence of Dr. Hugh F. Swingle, Jr. Legend has it that in the 1920’s, Dr. Swingle killed most (some stories say “all”) of his patients on the operating table due to careless practices.

It is said that by walking slowly up the front entrance, one can hear the insane Dr. Swingle and his staff talking. A walk around to the back of the building results in the audible range of screaming patients supposedly buried in the back yard.

The true story of Swingle Hospital is this:

Swingle Hospital was opened on February 25, 1948 by a group of highly educated doctors with a mission to heal the sick. Johnson City seemed the perfect location, in need of their services as much as they needed the work. The hospital was named “The Clinic Hospital, Inc.” It was merely the local legends that termed it “Swingle Hospital”, or “Swingle Mansion”.

The doctors involved were:
Dr. Edward Thruston Brading, who received a degree from Harvard University and moved to Johnson City in the early 1940’s to establish his practice. While there, he made several friends who were fellow doctors who eventually opened The Clinic Hospital, Inc with Brading.

Dr. Carroll Hardy, native of Johnson City, Tennessee, and graduate of Pennsylvania University. Hardy was a two-year resident doctor at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Hardy moved back home in 1932 and partnered up with his father, also a doctor.

Dr. Hugh F. Swingle – who the legend of Swingle Hospital surrounds – and Dr. Jack Gordon were introduced to Dr. Edward Brading through Dr. Carroll Hardy. Gordon’s father was the majority share holder of the Empire Chair Company, and provided financial backing for the group to purchase the building now known as Swingle Mansion; a 3-story brick home located on North Roan Street. Dr. Hugh Swingle was named president of the hospital, likely the reason his name was tagged by locals when the story of Swingle Hospital was concocted.

After a few years, Swingle’s fellow doctors began leaving, one by one, to pursue further education and/or bigger city business in their current practices. Edward was the last to leave Hugh Swingle, the sole doctor left to attend the patients of the hospital. Dr. Swingle struggled to maintain the practice for as long as he could, but without the help of his once trusted friends, the hospital was finally closed in the 1960’s.

The closed building attracted a multitude of homeless individuals and vagrants. A fire broke out (likely set by one of these squatters) and the owner decided to board up the windows, placing a ‘No Trespassing’ sign on the property.

The probable cause of the local legend of Swingle Hospital originated from the father of Dr. Carroll Hardy, who had been residing in Johnson City, TN since 1891. Hardy’s father took on the near impossible task of repairing an African American man’s intestines. With little more than a dining room table and chloroform for anesthesia, Carroll’s father went to work on the man, but he died on the operating table. The Jonesborough Herald & Tribune plastered the story on its front page.

This story has been so grossly misconstrued due to a simple link between Dr. Hugh Swingle and the tragic death of a patient belonging to his associate’s father. Yet still, countless times each year, trespassers creep onto the lawn of Swingle Hospital in hopes of hearing the “mad Dr. Swingle”, or the screams of “his many victims”. Is Swingle Hospital haunted? Possibly, but having the correct background should change your opinion on who is doing the haunting.


  • Sian Parker

    My mother has often told me about my grandmother working at Swingle Hospital. Dr. Swingle was very good to work for her. She never mentioned anything about unusual happenings. It’s a pity that it sat empty for so many years, and yesterday it was demolished.

  • pretty girl got swagg

    The Swingle Hospital is NOT demolished it is still standing trust me I know I live in Johnson City, Tennessee!

  • Feathers

    Sorry to say, old hospital HAS been demolished. I also live in JC and was very sad to see it go. I would love to have gone in it before it’s demise. I hear the furnishings were still there until the demolition day. Maybe the famiily donated some of them to the ETSU Archives of the Appalachia

  • tinkerchere

    my friends and i went here during high school and a lot of weird things happaned.we parked at some condos up the road and walked down through the back yard. we walked down a long pathway and we were about 5 feet from the house when one of my friends hot scared. we turned to leave and there was an old lady stanfing right behind us and told us not to go any farther.we headed back toward the path and it was covered in dead animals.

  • patricia hellums

    i have never, heard of these haunted hosptials. waverly hills santorium. to me is the scarriest; i have watched ghost adventures, and ghost hunters. and 60.00 patiences, have died since waverly hills opened in 1926. two nurses, had killed themselves so i read. but i think thay were murdered, by some doctor, because he had inpregnanted them both, and didnt wont or, his job in danger. he might had killed both of the ladies.

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