Kirkbride Buildings Blog

Archive for October, 2009

Ghost Adventures at Weston

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Weston State Hospital Kirkbride
For Halloween this year, “Ghost Adventures” will be at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum on October 30th for a SEVEN HOUR live broadcast. The show will be aired on The Travel Channel from 8PM to 3AM. I haven’t seen much of “Ghost Adventures”, but the few times I did I got a chuckle out of it. In my opinion, they go way over the top whereas a show like “Ghost Hunters” seems to try to maintain some degree of dignity. Regardless of that, the show will provide hours of footage from the former hospital and should be worth tuning in to for that alone. If you’re into the paranormal, you’ll love it even more. And if you also like spiky-haired guys with huge biceps, you’ll be in Heaven!

Points North: Traverse City State Hospital

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Traverse City State Hospital
Points North, a show on Interlochen Public Radio in Michigan, recently produced a program about Traverse City State Hospital: listen here. The program is 50+ minutes and full of personal history told by hospital employees and patients of the hospital. In the beginning you even get to listen in as former employees tour the Kirkbride building and tell stories of their experiences—the mundane and unusual, the humorous and sad.

What’s particularly fascinating is the contrast between the patients’ feelings and the those of the employees. The former almost exclusively express a fondness for the hospital, while the patients interviewed express good and bad feelings about the hospital.

The end of the program is about Heidi Johnson and her connection to the hospital. It tells a sad side of her story that I personally hadn’t heard before and was surprised to learn.

Public Meeting: The Future of Clarinda MHI

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Clarinda State Hospital Kirkbride
A public forum to discuss the future of Clarinda MHI will be held on Monday, October 12th in the MHI auditorium. The scheduled time is 3:00 – 5:00PM. If you live in the area and are concerned with keeping the Clarinda facility open, you should attend and make your voice heard.  Here’s a flyer for the event: Attention Citizens of Clarinda (4.7 megabyte PDF). The forum is part of Iowa’s investigation into whether one of it’s four state psychiatric facilities should be closed. You can read more about that story here: Iowa to Close a Kirkbride?, and in the forum within the various Iowa hospital threads.

State Hospital Stories Out of Time

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Last week someone on the forum posted a link to a Time Magazine Story which mentioned Traverse City State Hospital. It gave me the idea to check for more stories concerning state hospitals from Time’s extensive 86 year archive. While there weren’t any amazing finds, there were a few interesting items…

Medicine in a Mad House (1934) – Tells the story of how a patient filled Danvers State Hospital‘s kitchen sugar cans with cockroach poison, killing another patient and making 13 others seriously ill.

Government Inspiration (1936) – This story about government sponsored art during the New Deal starts off with a description of a mural painted at Elgin State Hospital. I just thought it was interesting that the artists were instructed to “use only the softest shades of primary colors, to ‘avoid all exciting combinations.'”

Unhappy Anniversary (1952) – The sad story of Miss X, Topeka State Hospital’s oldest resident in 1952. She had been admitted to the hospital in 1882.

Reinforcement Therapy: Short Cut to Sanity? (1969) – Experiments in something called “Reinforcement Therapy” at Anna State Hospital in Illinois.