Kirkbride Buildings Blog

Archive for the 'Demolition' Category

Save the Clocktower Tower

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Worcester State Hospital
As I’ve mentioned here and on the Kirkbride Buildings Facebook page, time is running out for the Worcester State Hospital clock tower. The entire admin is very likely doomed, but there is still a chance the actual clock tower will be saved. Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 10, 2012 is the last day to register a comment calling for preservation. See this article for details: For Old Times Sake. The state has offered to build a replica of the clock tower after demolishing the original. I think keeping the original is much more preferable to a replica. If you feel the same, please make sure to say so when sending your comment to the state.

Comments can be sent by email to the office of the Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs. The address is It couldn’t get much easier.

Please take a few minutes to send them a message calling for preservation of the clock tower. Please spread the word about this too. Thanks.

More on Worcester Clocktower Demolition

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Worcester State Hospital Clocktower
As a follow up to yesterday’s post about the Worcester Clocktower, I wanted to point out that some of the paperwork for the Clocktower demolition is available on the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs website: Environmental Notification Form (PDF). The document lists the estimated commencement date for demolition as “Spring 2012” and the estimated completion date as “Summer 2012”. So it’s very likely the Clocktower will be gone within a year.

The document also explains in more detail why the building is ineligible for national landmark status:

“In response to a Part 1 Historic Preservation Certification Application for the Clock Tower, the National Park Service determined that the Clock Tower does not qualify as a ‘certified historic structure’ for the purposes of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Citing the demolition activities that occurred following the 1991 fire, and those associated with the development of the new hospital facility, the NPS concluded that the Clock Tower, and the Worcester State Hospital campus as listed in the National Register in 1980, no longer retains architectural integrity.”

The only good news in the document is that some effort will be made to salvage material from demolition for an on-site installation commemorating the Kirkbride:

“As part of the on-going MHC consultation process, measures to mitigate the demolition of the Clock Tower are being explored. One such measure includes the salvage of architectural elements of the Clock Tower for possible future incorporation in an on-site installation commemorating the historic and architectural significance of the former Worcester State Hospital.”

Save the Clocktower Clock Tower?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Worcester State Hospital Clocktower
Massachusetts’ Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) and Department of Mental Health filed paperwork with this month in preparation for tearing down the final remains of the Worcester State Hospital Kirkbride building. It’s been determined that reusing the structure would be too expensive.

The bulk of the building’s remains consists of the Kirkbride’s administration section, and is loosely referred to as “The Clocktower.” However, the actual clock tower is a separate substructure of the admin. It’s been proposed that a compromise between preserving the admin and tearing it down completely would be to keep the clock tower substructure standing while destroying the rest. The tower would remain as a “long needle” with the clock at the top. You can find out a bit more: Group Hopes to Save Clocktower.

It would be sad if that’s all that could be saved, but the phrase “better than nothing” comes to mind. If it happens, I hope the tower will be open to the public. It would be a better memorial if people could interact with it (i.e. go inside, climb to the top, and see the view) rather than just look at it.

Greystone Update

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Greystone Park Kirkbride Building
As I may have mentioned before, one of the reasons I don’t blog much anymore is because so often the fate of abandoned Kirkbride buildings is murky for years on end. I’m tired of trying to think up new ways to say “whether the building will be saved is unclear, but things sound hopeful…” Regardless, I thought it worth noting that New Jersey’s Governor Christie has announced a $27 million plan to clean up the former Greystone Park State Hospital site. The plan calls for demolition of many buildings, but also “calls for determining the feasibility of redeveloping the historic Kirkbride Building” according to an article by New Jersey News Room: Gov. Christie Announces Greystone Psychiatric Hospital Demolition for Open Space.

I’m sure $27 million — even if it was entirely for the Kirkbride — won’t go very far in breathing new life into the Greystone Kirkbride. Most of the money will go toward demolishing other buildings and converting the property into open space parkland. But at least wheels are turning in regards to the Kirkbride’s preservation. Hopefully the feasibility study isn’t just a token gesture. It would be great if the building could remain as a point of architectural interest within all that open space. It’d be even better if it could be restored to its former grandeur, but that’s very unlikely I’m sure.

Thought I’d also mention a minor bit of trivia I learned while reading about this: according to an Associated Press article, President Ulysses S. Grant spoke at the opening of Greystone Park.

Worcester Clock Tower Doomed?

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower
Things are looking bleak for the Worcester Kirkbride Clock Tower. Even though the structure avoided demolition when the state razed the rest of the building’s remains just three years ago, its days are now numbered. According to a post on the Save Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower Facebook page, Massachusetts is planning to demolish the building due to a lack of funds or interest in reusing it.

I encourage everyone interested in saving the Clock Tower to read the post, like the Save Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower Facebook page, and to share any thoughts you might have on the subject there.

This Place Matters

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Fergus Falls RTC Demolition Proposal
To celebrate National Preservation Month (this year’s theme is “Celebrating America’s Treasures”), there will be a meeting at the M State campus in Fergus Falls on Tuesday, May 24th. It starts at 6:00 PM in Legacy Hall. The event is sponsored by The Fergus Falls Heritage Preservation Commission and Friends of the Kirkbride. It is free and open to the public.

Part of the meeting will be devoted to the importance of saving and restoring historic buildings in general, and what others have done to restore and reuse historic structures. There will also be some discussion of the Fergus Falls Kirkbride building‘s historic significance. Among the scheduled speakers is Ray Minervini, the man who breathed new life into the Kirkbride building in Traverse City, Michigan.

Also worth noting is that the city of Fergus Falls has proposed a phased demolition of the former RTC property. Under the plan some newer additions to the main building, as well as some older separate structures, and the tunnels beneath the Kirkbride could be demolished as early as Summer 2012. The areas in question are marked in bright yellow in the image above. The city has also proposed breaking the property into smaller pieces so that developers interested in reusing only a portion of the Kirkbride (a single wing for example) may make proposals to do so. According to an article in the Fergus Falls Journal, “Parts of the Kirkbride that were not picked up by developers could tentatively then be torn down late in the 2012 construction season and into 2013.” Read the article here: City Gives Kirkbride One Last Chance.

Fergus Falls Tours to Resume

Monday, April 11th, 2011

View Larger Map

Tours of the former Fergus Falls State Hospital are set to resume according to a post on the Friends of the Kirkbride Facebook page (check out the group’s photos for some great pictures, including historical images from the hospital). For more information or to reserve a spot on a tour, call Maxine at (+1) 218-736-5328.

I’ve been bad about keeping up with the blog and site in general lately, but even though this is oldish news, it’s worth noting that even though the Kirkbride building at Fergus is still standing, it’s in danger of being demolished. An article in the Fergus Falls Journal last month provides some details: New RTC Plan Could Demolish Part of Kirkbride.

No Chinese School for Fergus Falls

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Fergus Falls Kirkbride Building
As has long been suspected, the Chinese language immersion school that was supposed to take over the Fergus Falls Kirkbride is just not going to happen. Redevelopment of other buildings on the property is moving forward, but there are no plans in the works for the Kirkbride. Demolition is the only option on the table. Although it’s not a done deal just yet, things are not looking good for the preservation of Minnesota’s last intact Kirkbride building. You can read a little more about this here: RTC Development to Move Forward; Chinese School Nixed.

Topeka Admin Wreckage Footage

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

There’s some awful footage of the former Topeka State Hospital admin being destroyed here: Wrecking Ball Meets Topeka State Hospital. The video was produced by WIBW of Topeka, Kansas. According to the reporter, the wrecking ball will be swinging for a few more days, and a few months later in October, there’ll be no sign that the building ever existed.

Topeka Admin’s Days Numbered

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Topeka State Hospital
According to an article in the Topeka Capital Journal, demolition of the admin building at the former Topeka State Hospital (all that remains of its Kirkbride building) is scheduled to begin on or before June 1st. The building is only being torn down because of its dilapidated condition. There are no plans for using the space on which it currently stands. Read the article here: End Nears for TSH Building.