Kirkbride Buildings Blog

April 11th, 2008

The Kirkbride U

A piece of the original Oregon State Hospital building that’ll be spared the wrecking ball is being called the “Kirkbride U”. It’s kind of a weird term, but sort of makes sense considering the building itself is a little unusual because of it’s “J” shape. Read about it here: Plan Spares Tower on Old Hospital Site.

I’m still not sure I’d classify OSH as a Kirkbride building considering it’s oddball floorplan, but it could be one if you use a loose definition of the term. It was built in the right time period and probably followed most of the other structural ideas. It even looks like a Kirkbride minus the segmented wings. And if calling it a Kirkbride helped preserve the place, who really cares? It’s unquestionably historic and should be saved. (I know the state is destroying a lot of it, but they’re saving the most interesting part architecturally speaking.)

As I’m sure many of you know, Oregon State Hospital served as the main set for the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest film. There’s a pretty long Rolling Stone piece about Jack Nicholson’s experiences during shooting which is worth a read. It rambles a bit, but does offer some reasonably compelling glimpses of life at the state hospital in the 1970s. To give credit where it’s due, I found that article through Preserve Historic Salem which is a great resource for the full story on Oregon State Hospital, its history and its future.

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