Kirkbride Buildings Blog

Archive for April, 2008

Ghost Hunters at Weston

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic AsylumThe Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is the featured location on tonight’s episode of Ghost Hunters. The show airs at 9PM on the Sci-Fi Channel. TAPS — “not your normal paranormal” investigation team — will be shown hunting hauntings in the Kirkbride. I’ve never really watched the show, but from scanning a fan forum for 30 seconds I gather TAPS is a bit more skeptical and scientific than the average paranormal investigation unit. I don’t know if that’s saying much though:) (more…)

Weston Web Site Renovation

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Web Site
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum web site has a great new look. Check it out if you have some time to spare. It’s definitely worth a gander. The layout and graphics are very “sexy” and will certainly draw more people in to learn the Weston asylum story.

I like how the home page sort of splits the building in half to acknowledge the two big interests regarding the old hospital: History & Heritage versus Hauntings & Mystery. I’m not much for the latter, but if you are, check out the Overnight at the Asylum announcement on the Ghost Tours page.

Causes of Insanity

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Those familiar with 19th century asylums know all about the sometimes trivial or bizarre reasons people were “adjudged insane”. If you do any kind of research into asylums or the history of psychology, you invariably come across lists of weird explanations for why certain people were committed to asylums.

But I was surprised by a list on Roots Web I came across recently. The list was compiled from late 19th and early 20th century newspaper items describing people committed to the Mount Pleasant asylum in Iowa. (more…)

It’s Coming Down

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Worcester State Hospital
The abandoned buildings at Worcester State Hospital could start coming down as soon as this week according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Reporter Lee Hammel writes about the possible scaling back of the proposed new hospital facility, and mentions a few facts about demolition and the unclear fate of the Clocktower. (more…)

Reminder: Richardson Complex Meeting

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Buffalo State Hospital
Just a reminder to those of you in the Buffalo, NY area: there’ll be a public meeting about the Richardson Complex this Wednesday, April 16th. The meeting starts at 6PM and will take place at the Buffalo and Eerie County Historical Society, 25 Nottingham Court, in Buffalo. Findings, recommendations, updates and plans on stabilization and redevelopment will be presented.

If anyone reading this attends, please let me know of any surprising or especially good/bad news. Thanks. I’m hoping there’ll be some fantastic revelation about preservation and reuse of this historic building—it’s definitely one of my favorites. I won’t be surprised if it’s just a rehashing of things we’ve heard before though. Things usually turn out to be a lot less exciting than my hopes… *sigh*

The Kirkbride U

Friday, April 11th, 2008

A piece of the original Oregon State Hospital building that’ll be spared the wrecking ball is being called the “Kirkbride U”. It’s kind of a weird term, but sort of makes sense considering the building itself is a little unusual because of it’s “J” shape. Read about it here: Plan Spares Tower on Old Hospital Site.

I’m still not sure I’d classify OSH as a Kirkbride building considering it’s oddball floorplan, but it could be one if you use a loose definition of the term. It was built in the right time period and probably followed most of the other structural ideas. It even looks like a Kirkbride minus the segmented wings. And if calling it a Kirkbride helped preserve the place, who really cares? It’s unquestionably historic and should be saved. (I know the state is destroying a lot of it, but they’re saving the most interesting part architecturally speaking.) (more…)

The Lost Kirkbrides: Napa State Hospital

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Napa State Hospital
This one’s been a bit of a question mark, but the evidence I’ve seen points to there originally being a Kirkbride at Napa State Hospital in California. Unfortunately, if Napa did have a Kirkbride it’s long gone. According to this write-up on the institution’s 130th anniversary the building was town down in 1949. (more…)

Fergus Falls Kirkbride Tours

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Fergus Falls Kirkbride

Unfortunately, tours of the Fergus Falls Kirkbride have been discontinued. Any tours that may still be happening in 2013 are booked up and the Friends of the Kirkbride are no longer taking reservations. The post below from 2008 will remain here for archival purposes.

The Friends of the Kirkbride in Minnesota are extending an invitation to everyone to tour the former Fergus Falls RTC. You can read more about it here: Kirkbride is a Treasure of Architecture.

Speaking of Fergus Falls, check out these aerial photos somebody posted on MySpace:

Aerial Pic One
Aerial Pic Two

Doctor Bryce’s Hospital

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Doctor Peter BryceThere’s a new editorial piece about Bryce Hospital and the University of Alabama on Southern Lights: Surviving on the ‘Wrong’ Side of the Tracks. Instead of focusing on the present (see Bryce Hospital in the News), this article goes deep into the history of the two institutions. There are a good amount of insights into Dr Bryce’s character and how he managed things in the early days. You get a good sense of why this hospital bears Dr. Bryce’s name, and of the multifaceted nature of an asylum superintendent’s job. The superintendent not only provided care to the hospital’s patients but also acted as a chief executive, setting policy, marketing the hospital, and keeping the institution fiscally sound among other administrative/business type tasks.

I also found this old column from the September 1, 1895 edition of the New York Times: Model Home for Insane; Features of the Alabama-Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa. (Click on “View Full Article” to read the whole thing in PDF format.) It was written a year after Dr. Bryce’s death and gives a more contemporary, historical overview of life at the hospital and Dr. Bryce’s influence on it.

More Kirkbride Buildings

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Nevada State Hospital
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been adding pages for Kirkbride buildings that no longer exist. If you go to the main buildings page and scroll down to the demolished Kirkbride list, you’ll see that some locations are now linked to pages for a particular asylum. So far I’ve added content for Columbus State Hospital (OH), Elgin State Hospital (IL), Mount Pleasant State Hospital (IA), Jackson State Hospital (MS), Nevada State Hospital (MO), and Rochester State Hospital (MN). I also put up a page for Saint Joseph State Hospital (MO) since what’s left of the building is now part of an active prison and I’m not likely to get photos of the place. (more…)