Kirkbride Buildings Blog

Archive for the 'Preservation' Category

Project Kirkbride

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Christian VanAntwerpen had an idea recently to photograph “every inch” of the Fergus Falls, Minnesota, Kirkbride for posterity, and is now working to make his idea a reality. Christian has gathered a group of about forty photographers and cinematographers who plan to photograph the entire building together this year. The end result will be an interactive website that’ll allow anybody anywhere in the world to explore every corner of the Fergus Falls Kirk.

Such an ambitious project will undoubtedly cost a bit of money, so the group set up a Fundrazr page to help offset the cost. Please take a few minutes to check it out and consider making a donation: Help Us Completely Photograph the Fergus Falls RTC »

Help Save the Athens Kirkbride

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Plans for Athens Kirkbride

Please help the Athens County Historical Society and Museum save the Athens Kirkbride by signing this online petition.

Ohio University (current owner of the former Athens State Hospital site now known as The Ridges) is set to tear down an historic building at the site next month. Read more about it here: Ridges TB Ward to Be Razed Next Month Despite Historical Society Efforts to Save It. Although the structure being demolished isn’t the Kirkbride, the article also mentions the university’s plans to tear down most of the Kirkbride building’s wings in the future. See this diagram for what will be destroyed: Plans for The Ridges.

The Athens County Historical Society and Museum is trying to get the school to preserve the remaining buildings at The Ridges, including the Kirkbride. To help them, please sign the online petition. Also please consider contacting the university’s president and board of trustees directly.

Sign the Petition

Restore and Maintain Athens Asylum Buildings for Posterity »

Contact the President and Board of Trustees

Ohio University Office of President (contact info at bottom of page)

Ohio University  Board of Trustees (contact info at bottom of page)

Colliers International’s Fergus Falls Website

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Historic Campus Opportunity

Colliers International has launched a website as part of their campaign to find a developer for the Fergus Falls Kirkbride: Historic Campus Opportunity. It’ll be interesting to see if Colliers is successful. I believe it’s the first time a Kirkbride has been the subject of such a large scale marketing campaign. Hopefully it’ll result in the right developer finding out about the property and saving it.

If you own a website, or even just a Facebook page, please consider spreading the word by linking to the site.

Saint Vincent’s Affordable Housing

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

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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.

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.

Worcester Clocktower Update

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Worcester State Hospital ClocktowerLooks like Massachusetts is planning to proceed with demolition of the entire Worcester State Hospital admin (including the clock tower), and construction of a replica clock tower using material from the original building. See this official report dated Friday, January 20, 2012. It’s a lengthy, wordy document which is painful to read in some respects, but the overall gist is their intent is to completely raze the admin and build a clock tower replica. They acknowledge strong community support for preservation, but say the cost is just too high.

While destruction of the clocktower is tragic and more should have been done to save it, there’s some small comfort in the fact that part of the reason this is happening is because of the new hospital building being built nearby. The advancement of care for the mentally ill should always trump preservation and memorialization, no matter how important the latter two are. While I don’t think that fully excuses the state from responsibility for this tragedy, it’s at least something of a silver lining.

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.