Kirkbride Buildings Blog

Archive for September, 2009

Traverse City Transformation

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Traverse City State Hospital
The transformation of  Traverse City State Hospital into The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is probably a familiar story to most of you reading this blog. Reuse of the buildings there is moving steadily forward and the project has largely been a success. It continues to amaze me that more cities haven’t yet followed this example with their own abandoned Kirkbrides. NPR recently produced a piece on the project describing how it could be a model for developing sustainable neighborhoods in Michigan—a state that’s been hit especially hard by the economic downturn. Listen here: Listen Now

And lest we forget the past while we’re contemplating the future, I’d just like to remind you that a few former TCSH patients continue to share their memories of the hospital on the forum. You can read their thread here: Forgotten Children of Hall 18, Hall 7.

Speak Out for Columbia

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

On Wednesday, September 16th at 10AM there will be a public hearing concerning the historic buildings at the state hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation is asking everyone interested in preserving these structures to attend the meeting and show support. More information can be found here: Crunch Time! Join the Palmetto Trust and Have a Voice!

Here are a few recent articles describing what’s going on with these buildings (including the Kirkbride): State Nearing Sale of Old Bull Street Mental Hospital and Dual Plans in Motion to Make Use of Old Bull Street Hospital.

Anybody living in South Carolina that can attend and support preservation of these buildings, please do!

(Sorry this is such short notice. I only just found out about it.)

Danvers State Hospital Poster

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Danvers State Hospital Poster
The classic Danvers State Hospital posters from are available for purchase again. A few days ago, the reclusive John Gray posted about them on the forum. If you can spare a twenty, I’d recommend getting a copy. It’s a fantastic image with lots of interesting detail — as you can tell from the graphic above. More information is available on this page: Danvers State Hospital Posters.

Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals
Chris Payne’s upcoming book Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals is available for pre-purchase on Amazon. In case you don’t know, Chris Payne has been taking fantastic photographs of state hospitals for many years now. Although we’ve never met in person, our paths have crossed a few times as we both travelled around the country visiting many of the same psychiatric hospitals. Mr. Payne, however, has visited more hospitals and taken more photos than I have—better quality photos too. I haven’t seen a copy yet, but I’m certain this book will be worth purchasing if you have any interest in asylums and asylum architecture. I’ll write more about it after I get a copy to look through. That will probably be some time in early October.

Progress on Buffalo Kirkbride

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Aside from a video with some nice photos and footage of the Buffalo Kirkbride, there’s not much new in this article about the rehabilitation project there: Plans for the Richardson. It’s good to hear things are progressing, but I just mainly wanted to point out the video (it appears directly after the text of the article).

Saint Elizabeths Tour

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Saint Elizabeths Kirkbride
What could be one of the last walking tours of the Saint Elizabeths West Campus before construction begins on the new Coast Guard and DHS headquarters will be held on Saturday, September 19th. If you want to participate, you have to make a reservation.

To register, contact the DC Preservation League office by phone at (+1) 202.783.5144 or email They’ll ask for your name, mailing address, phone number, email address and the names of any other people that will be with you.

Iowa to Close a Kirkbride?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

One of Iowa’s four state psychiatric hospitals will be shut down according to an article in the Sioux City Journal: State May Close Mental Health Facility. This means yet another Kirkbride may be abandoned in the not too distant future, unless the facility at Mount Pleasant is the one that gets closed. The Kirkbride there, of course, being long gone. I really hope Cherokee, Clarinda and Independence get to hang on. It would be a shame to see any of them abandoned after all these years.