Once state-of-the-art mental healthcare facilities, Kirkbride buildings have long been relics of an obsolete therapeutic method known as Moral Treatment. In the latter half of the 19th century, these massive structures were conceived as ideal sanctuaries for the mentally ill and as an active participent in their recovery. Careful attention was given to every detail of their design to promote a healthy environment and convey a sense of respectable decorum. Placed in secluded areas within expansive grounds, many of these insane asylums seemed almost palace-like from the outside. But growing populations and insufficient funding led to unfortunate conditions, spoiling their idealistic promise.

Within decades of their first conception, new treatment methods and hospital design concepts emerged and the Kirkbride plan was eventually discarded. Many existing Kirkbride buildings maintained a central place in the institutions which began within their walls, but by the end of the 20th century most had been completely abandoned or demolished. A few have managed to survive into the 21st century intact and still in use, but many that survive sit abandoned and decaying—their mysterious grandeur intensified by their derelict condition. More...

Dr. Kirkbride

Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride was a founding member of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (AMSAII)—forerunner of the American Psychiatric Association—serving first as secretary, then later as president. Through this association and in his writings, Kirkbride promoted a standardized method of asylum construction and mental health treatment, popularly known as the Kirkbride Plan, which significantly influenced the entire American asylum community during his lifetime. More...

Latest Blog Entries

May 13: Preserve Greystone Court Hearing
12 May 2015 -- On Wednesday, May 13th, Preserve Greystone will be making their case in court for halting demolition of the Greystone Kirkbride. This may be the last chance for stopping the ongoing destruction of this historic building... read more

Preservationworks Press Release
30 Apr 2015 -- Preservationworks has issued a press release summarizing their conference held this past weekend. The conference brought together many leaders in Kirkbride building preservation efforts... read more

Greystone Developments April 2015
05 Apr 2015 -- Abatement of the Greystone Kirkbride in New Jersey appears to be nearing completion, and actual demolition could begin as early as this month. Preserve Greystone is planning a rally at the Kirkbride on Sunday, April 12th... read more

Preserve Greystone Town Hall Meeting
27 Mar 2015 -- Preserve Greystone is holding a town hall meeting on Wednesday, April 1 at 7:00PM. The meeting will be held at Morristown Town Hall, Senior Center, 3rd Floor in Morristown, New Jersey... read more

Parts of Bryce Hospital Kirkbride Being Demolished
04 Feb 2015 -- I knew something like this was coming, but that doesn’t make me any less sad and disappointed. Parts of the historic Bryce Hospital Kirkbride building are now being demolished... read more

Recent Updates

Prints of Kirkbride buildings are now available.

Added a Saint Elizabeths Hospital page.

Added an Harrisburg State Hospital page.

Added chapters 51-60 to Kirkbride's book.

Added a Cherokee State Hospital page.

Expanded the Weston State Hospital gallery.

Please note that in some instances these buildings are off-limits to the general public and permission must be obtained if you wish to access the property and/or take photographs.