The Athens Asylum was designed by 26 year old Cleveland architect, Levi T. Scofield in 1868 and was the largest employer in Athens County for almost a century.
The Athens Asylum is one of the few remaining examples of the famous Kirkbride buildings that were common in America in the late 19th century. Designed by 26 year old Cleveland architect, Levi T. Scofield in 1868, this was the first of his many contributions to the built inheritance of the state of Ohio. The Columbus Asylum, a younger and more elaborate sibling to the Athens Asylum, also designed by Scofield, was the largest building in the world under a single roof until the Pentagon was built after World War II. Built to last for centuries, the Columbus Asylum, like so many other public institutional buildings in Ohio and the nation, was demolished when it was barely 100 years old. Among his other contributions, Scofiled designed the impressive Soldiers and Sailors monument on Public Square in Cleveland, the These Are My Jewels monument on the Statehouse grounds in Columbus, and the State Penitentiary in Mansfield, Ohio. The Athens Asylum was the largest employer in Athens County for nearly a century. Ohio University and the Athens community have an opportunity to find adaptive reuses of these fine structures and make them part of Ohio's future. Heritage worth preserving.