Kirkbride Buildings Blog

Archive for the 'In the News' Category

Saint Vincent’s Affordable Housing

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Powered by Wordpress Plugins - Get the full version!

Check out this news item on the former Saint Vincent’s hospital: Civil War Insane Asylum Turned into Affordable Housing. They muddle the hospital’s history a little—although the asylum was founded in 1858, shortly before the Civil War, the Kirkbide was built between 1873 and 1891, well after the Civil War ended in 1865.

It’s great to see the building put to good use. It’ll probably be around for years to come. One can’t help but wonder why it can happen in Missouri, but not in other states. I’m sure it’s relatively modest size and location in a densely populated area both help.

Fergus Falls City Council Calls for Demolition Plans

Monday, May 7th, 2012

At the May 7th Fergus Falls City Council meeting, the council voted unanimously in favor of drawing up demolition plans for most of the city’s beautiful, 100+ year-old Kirkbride building. The central administration section will probably be preserved, but the wings will be destroyed under the proposed plan. This vote came in spite of a substantial showing of public support for full preservation. According to the Fergus Falls Journal, about 200 people showed up for the meeting and the council chamber was filled to overflowing.

So yet another Kirkbride is likely fated to become to a mere fragment of its former self. Such a shame that something couldn’t be done to save it. It is some consolation that at least a part of the structure would be saved. Hopefully that at least will happen. In my opinion, it’s really the wings that are the most beautiful part of the Fergus Falls Kirkbride though, at least in terms of the building’s exterior.

Save the Fergus Falls Kirkbride

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Fergus Falls RTC Kirkbride BuildingThere’s been a flurry of activity regarding Fergus Falls lately. If you haven’t heard, things aren’t looking for preservation. The Fergus Falls City Council rejected the only submitted reuse plan, and has started discussing demolition.

If you live in Fergus Falls and want the building saved, please attend the city council meeting on Monday, May 7th at 5:30PM to show support for preservation. The meeting will be taking place at Fergus Falls City Hall.

There’s also an online petition you can sign to show your support, even if you don’t live in Fergus Falls. Please take a minute to sign it. I know online petitions aren’t the most useful thing in the world, but signing one can’t hurt, and it might do some good. (Note that after signing, you’ll get an email with a request for a $5 donation. That donation is for the petition site, NOT for saving the Kirkbride.)

For Sale: Hudson River State Hospital

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Hudson River State Hospital For SaleThey finally went and did it. The organization behind the proposed mixed-use redevelopment of the former  Hudson River State Hospital campus has put the property, along with its magnificently sprawling Kirkbride building, on the real estate market. All CPC Resources‘ plans for Hudson Heritage Park are dead. For details, check out the Poughkeepsie Journal’s Psych Center Site Development Plan Stalls.

This doesn’t come as a big surprise given the devastating fire in 2007, the backing out of project partners in 2008, and the long-term lack of news about the redevelopment plans. In my opinion, the chances for preservation of the Kirkbride are greatly reduced by this sale. I doubt whoever purchases the property in this economic climate will have preservation of an historic property high on their agenda.

What Will the Worcester Clocktower Look Like?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Worcester Clock Tower
An article on the Boston Globe website includes an artist’s rendering of the Worcester State Hospital clock tower replica: Clock Tower: Time Isn’t Up in Worcester. Even though I’m very disappointed in the clock tower replica compromise and don’t think it could ever be a fitting stand-in for the entire building, I have to say it doesn’t look quite as silly as I had feared. What do you think?

Fergus Falls Update

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Fergus Falls State Hospital
According to the Fergus Falls Journal, only one proposal for reuse of the Fergus Falls Kirkbride was submitted in time for the deadline on Wednesday: Only One RTC Proposal Submitted. That’s a little disappointing, but we Kirkbride enthusiasts eat disappointment for breakfast, right? I wouldnt get too upset just yet.

The proposal was submitted by Minneapolis-based Geitso Export Management. The company wants to transform the Kirkbride into what it’s calling The Global XChange Village—using the building for a mix of business, education, retail, and the arts, including an “international boarding school.” The article also suggests that other developers who had planned to but didn’t submit their own proposals may end consolidating their projects within Geitso’s plan. Details of the plan are to be released in mid-February.

In somewhat related news, the Otter Tail County Historical Museum will be hosting an open house this Friday, February 10th from 4:00-7:00PM, unveiling the new exhibition “The State Welcomes: Minnesota’s Third State Hospital. See State Hospital Exhibit Opens at Museum for more details.

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.

Christmas Past, Present at Bryce Hospital

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The Herald News of Alabama published an article today about the history of Christmas at Bryce Hospital: The History of Christmas Celebrations at Bryce Hospital. Although I’m sure things weren’t quite as rosy as the writer suggests, it’s an accurate series of vignettes revealing some of state hospital life’s more positive aspects. I think it’s safe to say those positive aspects came to the fore during the holiday season at every other Kirkbride hospital in the country too. I get the feeling though that earlier times were more truly festive, and things got less joyful when hospitals became severely overcrowded.

It’s too bad the article doesn’t include any pictures. It’d be nice to see some of the decorations and activities it describes.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Not to be a downer, but don’t forget there are people less fortunate than you, who won’t be spending the holidays at home this year.

Bryce Kirkbride to House Museum?

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Bryce Hospital Kirkbride Building
The Bryce Hospital Kirkbride will likely become home to a museum once the University of Alabama takes control of the building. You can read about it in the university’s student-run newspaper, The Crimson White: UA Releases New Campus Master Plan. Their article states:

“By terms of the purchase agreement between the Department of Mental Health and the University of Alabama, there is going to be a mental health museum located in the Bryce Hospital building,” [said Darrell Meyer of KPS Group, the architectural firm helping UA with the campus master plan]. “We realized that we don’t have a University history museum. I think we really need one of those.”

In addition to building a University history museum, Meyer also spoke of plans for museums for mental health, natural history, Jones art collection, and special collections.

It’s not very clear the way it’s written, but I’m pretty certain the mental health museum is a sure thing, and the university history and other museums are just possibilities. Hopefully though, the prospect of several museums means it’s more likely the entire building will be preserved. It’d be great to have another fully intact Kirkbride that’s accessible to the general public.

UPDATE: This article: Bryce May Become Cultural Arts Center, adds that the Kirkbride would also house spaces for the performing arts as well as for a museum or museums.

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.