Kirkbride Buildings Blog

Archive for the 'Web Sites' Category

Fergus Falls Story

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Fergus Falls State Hospital
StoryCorps — the nonprofit project to honor and celebrate lives through listening — just posted a story about the memories of one Marcia Page: A Special Childhood Friend. Marcia spent part of her childhood on the grounds of the Fergus Falls State Hospital. Her father was the chief clinical psychologist there during part of the 1950s. While the piece is unfortunately brief, it does offer a warm glimpse of what life could be like for a hospital employee’s child. Read the Story

Traverse City State Hospital Memories

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Since the forum receives so little traffic, I thought it might be a good idea to point out a recent series of posts by someone who spent several years at Traverse City State Hospital. Ronl, became a resident of the hospital in 1965 when he was 12 years old, and his memories (both good and bad) make for fascinating reading.

You can find them here: Forgotten Children – Hall 18, Hall 17.

Saint Elizabeths Hospital

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

The Saint Elizabeths Hospital Center Building
I finally got around to adding a page for the Kirkbride building in Washington, DC: Saint Elizabeths Hospital. I was fortunate enough to get on the DC Preservation League’s tour of the West Campus this past December. Unfortunately, the sun was low on the horizon and behind the building. So the exterior pictures of the Kirkbride’s facade are a bit dark and flat. Oh well. The League may be putting together tours of the campus again this Spring. If I’m lucky I’ll get another chance to take pictures when there’s more light on the front of the building, and more greenery around too.

Even though the Saint Elizabeths Kirkbride isn’t on my list of favorites (I’d even go as far as saying it’s on the ugly side), the hospital campus itself is really beautiful. The view of Washington, DC alone is fantastic. But the variety of trees which fill out the grounds are also attractive and cast some amazing shadows. Then there’s the sense of history you feel when walking around all those old historic buildings on the outskirts of the nation’s capital.

If tours are given again this Spring, I really recommend signing up. There may not be many more chances to see this Kirkbride after the Department of Homeland Security starts transforming the West Campus into its new headquarters. Most likely, you won’t get to see the inside of the Kirkbride on the tour, but walking around the campus is interesting enough and won’t cost you anything either. If I hear anything about the tours, I’ll mention it here. So stay tuned.

Kirkbrides on Facebook

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons
Over the last few months I’ve actually started using my Facebook profile and have to admit it’s pretty addictive. In case you’ve been living under a rock in a cave somewhere on Mars, Facebook is a social networking site that allows you to keep in touch and up-to-date with friends, family and other associates, as well as with your favorite bands, TV channels, companies, whatever.

It’s nice to see that Kirkbride buildings have a small presence on the site. There’s the Kirkbride buildings page, the Project Kirkbride group, an unofficial Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum group, and a really nice profile for The Village at Grand Traverse Commons (formerly Traverse City State Hospital) where you can find out about upcoming events and see some pictures of the goings-on there. If you’ve got your own Facebook profile, please become fans or join these groups to show your support.

I hope there’ll be more Kirkbride-related stuff on Facebook in the future. Seems like the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum should have an official profile/page, as well as The Richardson Olmsted Complex and Hudson Heritage Park.

Preserve Greystone

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Greystone Park State Hospital
There’s a new web site concerning the fate of Greystone Park at It’s owned by the group dedicated to preserving the Greystone Park site for recreation, open space and historic preservation, instead of residential and commercial development. If you’re looking for information on what’s currently happening with the Greystone Park campus, will keep you up to date. (more…)

Happy Birthday, Kirkbride Buildings Blog!

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Happy Birthday Kirkbride Buildings Blog
Happy Birthday, Blog! Here’s a poorly drawn cake for you! Yes, amazingly, it’s been a whole year since I started writing here on a regular basis. The first post was on December 19th, 2007. Even though I half expected to run out of ideas and news to report after a month or so, we’ve somehow made it through an entire year without any major lapses in post frequency. I know I’ve been bad about posting lately, but hopefully that will end after the holidays.

There are now over 130 posts and over 280 comments collected here. I think that’s added a lot of information to the site and has also contibuted to the growth of traffic. Kirkbride Buildings has seen more action in the past year than it did in any of the previous six or so years it’s been online. Thank you all for reading and especially for commenting. It’s always nice to get a little feedback and it helps keep me motivated to continue. That said, I can’t promise this will last another year, but I hope it will.

Kirkbride Disasters

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

I found a web site that compiles information about historical disasters: It has quite a few entries describing catastrophes that affected Kirkbride asylums. There’s nothing really amazing here, but it’s a good resource for anyone researching the history of a particular hospital. There are a couple good pictures included to boot (like this one of the Kirkbride in Danville, PA).

The entries I’ve found so far include: (more…)

LIFE Magazine at Worcester State Hospital

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Patients at Worcester State Hospital

Note: Sadly, the photos linked to in this blog post are no longer online.

Google and LIFE Magazine recently arranged a deal whereby LIFE’s vast photo archive will be placed online. You can find a portal to the collection here. What I really want to draw your attention to though is a handful of images taken by photographer Herbert Gehr at a mental hospital in Worchester [sic], Massachusetts in 1949. One of these photos (reproduced above) leaves no doubt that they were indeed taken at Worcester State Hospital. Anyone that’s been inside the Worcester Kirkbride will recognize the space in which three women create this somewhat surreal scene.
Common Area inside Worcester State Hospital
I don’t think all the photos in this collection were taken inside the Kirkbride, but I believe most of them were. They’re really a pretty fascinating group of images too—some are slightly bizarre, some are disturbing, and others are hauntingly beautiful. It’s weird to see that the basement almost looked creepier in use than it did after it was abandoned. Below are links to all the pictures. (Note that you can view a larger version of each image by clicking the “View full size” link on the image page.) (more…)

Kirkbride Desktop Wallpaper

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Danvers State Hospital
Things have been really slow in Kirkbride news lately. While there have been some minor developments, they’re really nothing new, definite or exciting—just incremental changes in the status of a few buildings. I haven’t been creative enough lately to come up with posts in spite of that lack of activity too, so I have to apologize again for the lack of new information here lately. When I started the blog I planned on posting once a week. Until now, I actually managed to do that—surprising since I half expected to run out of things to post about after a few months.

Anyway, for the lack of anything better to post, I thought I’d point you to a collection of Kirkbride building desktop wallpaper. The backgrounds are mostly old historical images we’ve all seen before, but here they’re nice and big to fit on your computer desktop. Enjoy.

Google Maps Tears Down DSH!!!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Of course they didn’t really tear it down, but Google Maps did replace the old aerial photograph of Danvers State Hospital (which included the full Kirkbride in all its glory) with a more recent photo showing a half built Avalon Danvers. It was always something of a comfort that even though Danvers was gone, Google Maps still had an image of the untouched Kirkbride up. Now they’ve updated and the illusion is gone.

Microsoft’s “bird’s eye view” of the former DSH campus still shows the full Kirkbride. But you’d better see it while you can. I’m sure it won’t be around for too much longer either. There’ll always be Historic Aerials of course, but somehow it’s not the same.