Kirkbride Buildings Blog

Archive for January, 2009

Preserve Greystone

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Greystone Park State Hospital
There’s a new web site concerning the fate of Greystone Park at www.preservegreystone.org. It’s owned by the group dedicated to preserving the Greystone Park site for recreation, open space and historic preservation, instead of residential and commercial development. If you’re looking for information on what’s currently happening with the Greystone Park campus, preservegreystone.org will keep you up to date. (more…)

Richardson Complex Update Update

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Somebody just pointed me to a Buffalo News article about the Buffalo State Hospital Kirkbride which describes in more detail than usual the proposed plans for the building: Hotel and Park Proposed for Richardson Complex.

I really hope a hotel goes in. I’ll make a trip out to Buffalo at least once a year if I can spend a few days living in that Kirkbride. Maybe I’d even start a little annual convention for Kirkbride enthusiasts.

And remember, there’s going to be a public meeting on Tuesday, January 27 in Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College about these plans (for the hotel not my imaginary convention:). So if you live in the area, check it out.

Richardson Complex Update

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Buffalo State Insane Asylum
A status update on the former Buffalo State Hospital Kirkbride appeared on Buffalo Rising yesterday: Richardson Complex Update. According to BR, some stabilization work has been completed, more is in the works, and a laser scan of the building is ongoing. There will also be a public meeting on Tuesday, January 27 in Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College where The Richardson Center Corporation will give an overview of the work completed so far. It’s great to hear that preservation of this architectural treasure is moving forward.

What’s the Deal with Greystone Park?

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Greystone Park State Hospital
I’ve been out of touch with the latest on Greystone Park, but there was an item in the news yesterday about protests over it’s possible sale to commercial interests. Apparently there are laws in existance that prohibit the grounds (and buildings on them) from commercial development, and state that they must be used for parks, farmland, open space and/or for historical purposes (as in a museum of some sort).

Last month, a group of area residents and government officials requested that the New Jersey state government adhere to these laws and reverse theirprior approval of a property auction. While I believe whole-heartedly in the rights of citizens to have a say in what happens in their town, I can’t help but think this is bad news for the Greystone Kirkbride building. It’s hard to imagine the state and/or local government will decide to foot the enormous bill for preserving a building like Greystone in times like these.

I was hoping to find out more about this before posting, but I haven’t had much luck. If anyone knows anything about how this development could affect the preservation of the Kirkbride, please comment and let us know. Thanks.

DHS Headquarters Plan Approved

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Saint Elizabeths
The National Capital Planning Commission has approved plans for a new Department of Homeland Security headquarters on the abandoned West Campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital: Planning Agency Approves Homeland Security Complex. While getting Congress to pony up the necessary funds still remains an issue, I’ll wager they’ll be forthcoming eventually—even if it takes a little while given the current economic turmoil.

The bad news: as stated before, this development may affect the site’s national landmark status, and the campus will be off-limits to all but a few thousand government employees. The good news: Kirkbride preservation and reuse is part of the redevelopment plan. Even though it’s sad that the Kirk will be hidden behind multiple layers of security, it’s good to know that its odds for survival are favorable. I also think it’s remarkably fitting for the building to become part of the DHS’s headquarters. No, not because it’ll make an easy joke about the DHS being an insane asylum, but because it’s fortress-like facade will be in keeping with its use.

For some differing views on this development, see these two write ups on other blogs: A Dangerous Turn for St. Elizabeths (Preservation Nation) and St. E’s West Campus Wins Final OK (And Now, Anacostia).

Saint Elizabeths and the DHS

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Saint Elizabeths Administration Building
As you may or may not know, the Department of Homeland Security plans to take over the abandoned West Campus of Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Washington DC and consolidate it’s various agencies’ offices in that one location. There’s recently been a pretty substantial indication that it’ll be a while till that happens though: Coastguard Renews Lease in Buzzard’s Point.

Another eyebrow-raising piece of news is that Saint ELizabeths West Campus might lose its National Historic Landmark status when the DHS moves in: Saint Elizabeths Could Lose Historic Status. Apparently the DHS’s plan is so incompatible with the site’s historic character that the National Park Service expects to consider its “dedesignation as a National Historic Landmark.” That doesn’t sound too good…

By the way, I finally got to take some exterior photos of the Saint Elizabeths Kirkbride in December by participating in one of the DC Preservation League’s walking tours. I’ll be posting some of those soon along with some interior photos from a few years ago.

UPDATE: Somebody just directed me to this opinion piece about Saint Elizabeths’ status written by National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe: Disaster for St. Elizabeths.

Christmas at Cherokee State Hospital

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

It’s a little late, but yesterday the Cherokee Chronicle Times posted a 100 year-old description of Christmas celebrations at Cherokee State Hospital. The description makes up the first five paragraphs of their latest “Times Gone By” section here: Times Gone By.

I did a quick search to see if there were any other pieces about the hospital on the site, but there wasn’t much of interest. The only thing worth mentioning is this other “Times Gone By” article from 2007 which coincidentally compares Santa’s Workshop with Cherokee State Hospital’s buildings.

In the first place [Santa] has a huge factory, bigger than all of the buildings at the Cherokee state hospital, and in it hundreds and hundreds of gnomes are busy making up huge bags full of toys, dolls, games, sleds, airplanes and just everything else that you can think of that will make little boys and girls happy.

Buffalo State Hospital and The Natural

Monday, January 5th, 2009

A scene from The Natural showing the interior of the Buffalo State Hospital Kirkbride building
A couple weeks ago I found a blog post at Forgotten Buffalo describing how parts of the classic baseball film The Natural were filmed at various locations in Buffalo, New York: Tour of “The Natural” Sites. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that some scenes were filmed inside the abandoned Buffalo State Hospital Kirkbride building. This past weekend I finally got to watch the movie and see for myself.

About an hour and half into the movie, Robert Redford’s character Roy Hobbs is sent to a hospital. The Kirkbride plays the part of the hospital (not a psychiatric facility) and does a pretty good job I might add. There’s probably around twenty minutes worth of scenes inside the building. There are no views of the building’s exterior. Unfortunately, a lot of the shots inside Redford’s room (actually a medium-to-large dormitory style space he shares with other patients) are pretty “tight” and you don’t get to see much. But there are a few shots of a ward hallway which give you a sense of what a Buffalo ward looked like in the 1930s—even though in real life there probably would’ve been beds in the hall and other signs of overcrowding by that time. (more…)