Kirkbride Buildings Blog

September 9th, 2009

Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals

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.

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  1. WSH September 9, 2009, 3:34 pm

    This is going to be good!

  2. John September 10, 2009, 3:29 pm

    Very much looking forward to this book. The guy is pretty amazing.

  3. WSH September 11, 2009, 11:06 am

    Does anyone know if this guy is a true UE or did he get permission? I know he had permission for the NYC Substations.

  4. John September 11, 2009, 1:33 pm

    I don’t know Chris all that well but the few times I spoke to him I got the impression he got permission for most if not all the hospitals he’s shot. Permision or not I could care less, the guy is very talented.

  5. Ethan September 11, 2009, 2:30 pm

    In emails, Chris has pretty much said as much — he always gets permission. Knowing how difficult that can be sometimes, I think that’s just as impressive, maybe even more so, than going without permission.

  6. WSH September 11, 2009, 3:39 pm

    On his website there is probably the coolest photo I’ve seen. The St. Elizabeths autopsy theatre! That’s crazy, there are only two people I’ve known to have had permission to go to St. E since before the redevelopment started.

    Definitley check the photo out. It’s about halfway down the Asylums:Interiors section.

  7. John September 11, 2009, 3:47 pm

    Funny you mentioned the St. Elizabeths autopsy theatre.He mentioned to me when he showed up to shoot that place, the woman in charge had no idea and freaked out on him pretty bad.

    There’s been a few people who got in the autopsy theatre over the past not just Chris.

  8. Phil September 16, 2009, 9:19 am

    He has some amazing photos on his website, and has been in some very nice hospitals. He even has photos from several PA state hospitals that I know from experience are very hard to get permission to get into.

  9. squad546 September 26, 2009, 2:07 am

    I got a copy of his book as a Birthday gift the other day, it’s better then I expected actually! He has great photos, especially of some lesser-known locations and without those dreaded “artistic” photos we’ve seen on some forums. He was cool enough to send a copy to the staff at Eastern State Hospital in Lexington KY as a “Thank you”.

  10. Sandra Giffin October 9, 2010, 11:16 pm

    Does he mention the Wernersville State Hospital in Wernersvilla PA. Its an amazing place, the older buildings have tons of history architecture is amazing. third floor “attick” was made of solid concreate salbs…also one building was said to have benn disigned by the same man who designed independence hall in philly…anyway many of the building are a must see…truly amazing…check websites local to Wernersvill and you will find more ino. hope its added to this or future books. Oh and the dam was built to utilze hydro power if need be and there are tunnels that run from one end of complex to other…history is rich there.

  11. Pictures & Postcards May 17, 2012, 5:20 am

    My name is Teri. My Grandmother died at ethis hospital. I would like to get pictures or postcards. Please e-mail me if you have any information on this. Thanks


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