Kirkbride Buildings Blog

Archive for November, 2008

LIFE Magazine at Worcester State Hospital

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Patients at Worcester State Hospital

Note: Sadly, the photos linked to in this blog post are no longer online.

Google and LIFE Magazine recently arranged a deal whereby LIFE’s vast photo archive will be placed online. You can find a portal to the collection here. What I really want to draw your attention to though is a handful of images taken by photographer Herbert Gehr at a mental hospital in Worchester [sic], Massachusetts in 1949. One of these photos (reproduced above) leaves no doubt that they were indeed taken at Worcester State Hospital. Anyone that’s been inside the Worcester Kirkbride will recognize the space in which three women create this somewhat surreal scene.
Common Area inside Worcester State Hospital
I don’t think all the photos in this collection were taken inside the Kirkbride, but I believe most of them were. They’re really a pretty fascinating group of images too—some are slightly bizarre, some are disturbing, and others are hauntingly beautiful. It’s weird to see that the basement almost looked creepier in use than it did after it was abandoned. Below are links to all the pictures. (Note that you can view a larger version of each image by clicking the “View full size” link on the image page.) (more…)

Saint Elizabeths Walking Tour

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Saint Elizabeths

The DC Preservation League will be giving a special walking tour of Saint Elizabeths’s historic west campus on December 13th. This is your chance to see the Saint Elizabeths Kirkbride building up close, plus the breathtaking view of Washington DC from the hilltop the Kirkbride sits on! You may not get many more opportunities since the west campus is closed to the public and slated to become home to the the Department of Homeland Defense in a couple years. Chances are the tour will fill up quick, so you’d better reserve a spot soon. To put your name on the list call 202-783-5144.

Kirkbride Desktop Wallpaper

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Danvers State Hospital
Things have been really slow in Kirkbride news lately. While there have been some minor developments, they’re really nothing new, definite or exciting—just incremental changes in the status of a few buildings. I haven’t been creative enough lately to come up with posts in spite of that lack of activity too, so I have to apologize again for the lack of new information here lately. When I started the blog I planned on posting once a week. Until now, I actually managed to do that—surprising since I half expected to run out of things to post about after a few months.

Anyway, for the lack of anything better to post, I thought I’d point you to a collection of Kirkbride building desktop wallpaper. The backgrounds are mostly old historical images we’ve all seen before, but here they’re nice and big to fit on your computer desktop. Enjoy.

The Lost Kirkbrides: Agnews State Hospital

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Agnews State Hospital
Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been busy and haven’t heard anything noteworthy about Kirkbride buildings or related topics in a while. But just to keep things going, here’s another installment in The Lost Kirkbrides series: Agnews State Hospital, a Kirkbride building I found out about only recently…

Agnews State Hospital in Santa Clara, California opened in 1889 as The Great Asylum for the Insane. Its Kirkbride building stood for just seventeen years until the great earthquake of 1906 caused irreparable damage to the structure and the death of 117 people. The dead were buried in mass graves on the hospital grounds. The Kirkbride had to be torn down. It was replaced in 1911 by a new arrangement of buildings based on the Cottage Plan. (more…)

It’s Real

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

The StainIn case you ever doubted the legitimacy of “The Stain” inside the Athens State Hospital Kirkbride, Ohio University researcher Glen Jackson has found that it is indeed a remnant of Margaret Schilling’s decomposing body. You can read about Jackson’s findings in The Athens News: Forensics Tackles Athens Lore. As the article explains, a residue of decomposed human tissue and a chemical cleaner mixed to cause the discoloration.

While there really wasn’t much room for skepticism as to whether Schilling’s corpse caused the stain 30 years ago, there was a bit of mystery over what process actually left the mark. This study dispels most of that mystery, but as Jackson says, it’s still not clear how the stain took the form of a human body. If somebody had cleaned the floor the way you’d expect them to, the stain would have been much more irregular. It might be wrong to expect people to always do things the way you’d expect them to though.

Richardson-Olmsted Snow Globe

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Richardson Complex Snow Globe
In case you read this post and were wondering how the voting went, the Richardson-Olmsted Complex is the winning architectural landmark! With 34% of the vote, the old asylum building will be featured in this year’s snow globe. Unfortunately, it sounds like the globe won’t be available for the holidays. Read more on Buffalo Rising. I thought it was interesting that people tried to “stuff the ballot box” as they put it. Who’d have thought people were so passionate about a snow globe? My only problem with this whole thing is that I can’t find any information on how to actually buy a globe. I guess maybe you have to go to The Floristry in Buffalo to get one?