About Kirkbride Buildings

Kirkbride buildings are named after Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, a nineteenth-century physician and asylum superintendent who authored a treatise on hospital design. This treatise and Dr. Kirkbride's other work had a far-reaching influence on the construction of American insane asylums through much of the latter half of the nineteenth century. Kirkbride buildings are most recognizably characterized by their somewhat unique "bat wing" floorplan and their often lavish Victorian-era architecture. Their design was an attempt at creating a space to facilitate the return to sanity. The buildings were conceived by Dr. Kirkbride and his contemporaries as active participents in treating the mentally ill.

More information on Kirkbride buildings and related topics can be found on the buildings pages, on the blog, in the forum, by visiting web sites listed on the links page, and by consulting books and documents listed in the bibliography.

About This Site

This web site is the work of amateur photographer/historian and web designer Ethan McElroy. It is an attempt to document remaining Kirkbride buildings in their current state before they are destroyed or transformed. All contemporary photographs on this web site are original copyrighted works and cannot be reproduced elsewhere without permission from the site owner. The original copyright holders and publishers of historical images are noted when possible. Please note that while I strive to be accurate and thorough, there is no guarantee of accuracy for the information presented here. Corrections are always welcome as well as other comments and questions. Please contact me if you have any.

I would like to thank the following people for their generous assistance in making this site possible.

Please note that this site is not affiliated in any way with the institutions it documents.