April 7th, 2014
I had been hoping that when the University of Alabama took over the Bryce Hospital campus that they would preserve the entire Kirkbride building there. Unfortunately, they’re planning on tearing down at least one wing to make room for a new performing arts center. Read more about it here: University of Alabama to Build New State of the Art Performing Arts Center on Bryce Hospital Grounds
This news is especially depressing, coming as it does on the heels of the news that New Jersey is moving forward with demolishing the Greystone Kirkbride. Speaking of Greystone, please still consider supporting Preserve Greystone’s continuing efforts to save Greystone. While the Kirkbride is still standing, there is hope it can be saved. And if I learn of any ways to help prevent Bryce’s wing from being torn down, I will post about them here and on Facebook.
February 13th, 2014
1000 unmarked graves have been discovered on the former grounds of Jackson State Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi according to the Clarion Ledger: Discovery of Graves Affects UMMC Parking Plan. The graves belong to deceased patients of the hospital.
The University of Mississippi Medical Center was planning to build a parking garage on the site, but changed its plans after discovering the graves and will build the garage elsewhere. It would be too expensive to move the bodies.
You can’t help but wonder how many other unmarked graves there are that nobody knows about on former asylum grounds around the country. I’m sure there are many, many thousands (and that’s not counting the thousands of marked graves either named or anonymous).
By the way, there’s a nice image of the Jackson Kirkbride about halfway through the video accompanying the Clarion Ledger’s article (embedded above).
February 12th, 2014
There’s a special exhibit focusing on Northampton State Hospital at Historic Northampton in (where else?) Northampton, Massachusetts. “Vanished: the Hospital on the Hill” will run from February 8th till March 7th and features photographs by Stan Sherer and text by J. Michael Moore. More information can be found at the Historic Northampton website.
Even though the exhibit is already ongoing, the opening reception is this Friday, February 14 from 5 to 8 PM. The reception will feature a talk by Tom Riddell at 6 PM: “The Long March to Memorializing Northampton State Hospital.”
Read an interview with photographer Stan Sherer here: New exhibit tells story of Northampton State Hospital.
October 19th, 2013
Preserve Greystone has started an online petition calling for the preservation of the Greystone Kirkbride building in New Jersey. Please sign the petition to show your support for saving this historical and monumental building.
Sign the Petition »
I know online petitions aren’t as effective as contacting New Jersey’s Governor and Treasurer directly by writing letters or through some other medium—please do that too—but signing the petition will still help build support for the building and it will only take a minute of your time.
September 3rd, 2013
Many years ago (more than I care to count), when I first learned about Danvers State Hospital, there weren’t really that many good web pages about it. One of those few quality pages was hosted at danverslibrary.org, the website of the Danvers Archival Center at the Peabody Institute Library. It didn’t have that much information though, and only a few small images. I would still visit the page every so often to look at the pictures and see if there was anything new added, but there never was. I gave up checking on it several years ago.
The other day I discovered the page has been completely overhauled with lots of new text and some really breathtaking photographs, including one of the most beautiful exterior images of Danvers I’ve ever seen. Go take a look, you won’t be disappointed. (Make sure you scroll down to the last major section of the page to see the exterior picture I’m talking about.)
Danvers State Hospital »
August 21st, 2013
It’s been announced in the press that New Jersey plans to demolish the historic Greystone Kirkbride in spite of receiving six respectable proposals for redevelopment. According to the state, all six proposals left a ”funding gap” of $11 million to $25 million. Since the state is unwilling to spend any money on redevelopment, they claim the proposals aren’t viable.
However, at least two organizations who submitted proposals argue they would not require any assistance: Green Center Acres and Auto Mart, Inc. (the company behind the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV).
The process of demolition could begin as early as spring 2014.
Preserve Greystone is vowing to fight the state’s decision. Right now, I’m not sure exactly what people should do to help them. I’ve asked them for the latest information and I’m still waiting to hear back. For the time being, you can like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and check out their existing suggestions at preservegreystone.org/support.html. If I find out anything new, I’ll post about it.
Another option I highly recommend (especially for New Jersey residents) is to call or write to both the Governor and Treasurer and let them know the Kirkbride should be saved.
NJ Governor Chris Christie
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
NJ Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff
Department of the Treasury
P. O. Box 002
Trenton, NJ 08625-0002
Learn more about this story by following the links below.
March 28th, 2013
Image copyright 1992 Roger Farrington. Courtesy of panopticongallery.com. Used with permission.
In case you missed it on the Danvers State Hospital Facebook page, there’s a small collection of photos of the hospital from 1992 by Roger Farrington available here: Panopticon Gallery: Roger Farrington. Roger Farrington is a professional photographer who was hired by the state to document the closing of the hospital. The photos available at the Panopticon Gallery site are from very soon after the hospital was vacated for good in 1992. Check them out. You won’t be disappointed.
March 10th, 2013
Christian VanAntwerpen had an idea recently to photograph “every inch” of the Fergus Falls, Minnesota, Kirkbride for posterity, and is now working to make his idea a reality. Christian has gathered a group of about forty photographers and cinematographers who plan to photograph the entire building together this year. The end result will be an interactive website that’ll allow anybody anywhere in the world to explore every corner of the Fergus Falls Kirk.
Such an ambitious project will undoubtedly cost a bit of money, so the group set up a Fundrazr page to help offset the cost. Please take a few minutes to check it out and consider making a donation: Help Us Completely Photograph the Fergus Falls RTC »
February 28th, 2013
John Gray is publishing a new edition of his Abandoned Asylums of New England photography book. The original version was self-published and came out a little over ten years ago. This new hardcover version is 220 pages and includes lots more high-quality photos in both black and white and color. It’s being published in connection with the Museum of disABILITY History who provides the text. From the publisher:
“Abandoned Asylums of New England offers the work of photographer John Gray, who has captured the final throes of the once majestic monuments of medical treatment. This photographic journey into the world of urban exploration documents the state of some of New England’s storied temples of control, treatment, and rehabilitation of individuals with disabling conditions. The Museum of disABILITY History provides a historical context for these asylums that heightens the degree of entropy into which these feats of architectural grandeur have fallen. From the gigantic Kirkbride campuses to the airy tuberculosis hospitals, Gray’s photography reveals through its compositions the poignant echoes of the lives lived, and sometimes lost, at these disappearing asylums.”
Abandoned Asylums of New England should eventually be available for purchase on the museum’s website, but to order a copy right now, you have to send an email to PeopleInkPress@people-inc.org. And to keep up-to-date with news about the book, like the Abandoned Asylums of New England Facebook page.
February 13th, 2013
Please help the Athens County Historical Society and Museum save the Athens Kirkbride by signing this online petition.
Ohio University (current owner of the former Athens State Hospital site now known as The Ridges) is set to tear down an historic building at the site next month. Read more about it here: Ridges TB Ward to Be Razed Next Month Despite Historical Society Efforts to Save It. Although the structure being demolished isn’t the Kirkbride, the article also mentions the university’s plans to tear down most of the Kirkbride building’s wings in the future. See this diagram for what will be destroyed: Plans for The Ridges.
The Athens County Historical Society and Museum is trying to get the school to preserve the remaining buildings at The Ridges, including the Kirkbride. To help them, please sign the online petition. Also please consider contacting the university’s president and board of trustees directly.
Sign the Petition
Restore and Maintain Athens Asylum Buildings for Posterity »
Contact the President and Board of Trustees
Ohio University Office of President (contact info at bottom of page)
Ohio University Board of Trustees (contact info at bottom of page)