March 17th, 2008
I’ve been trying to add to the list of Kirkbride buildings and remembered a couple asylums mentioned in America’s Care of the Mentally Ill. In the book, there’s a nice bird’s eye view of an asylum called Saint Vincent’s in Saint Louis, Missouri. After a little searching I was able to find the address and confirm that it was a Kirkbride. In the aerial photo above, you can see the building still stands. It’s been converted to a residential complex called Castle Park Apartments and will probably be around for a good long time. That was a nice surprise. It’s hard to believe there aren’t any other photos of this castle-like Kirkbride online. It’s pretty impressive, if a little over the top in style.
Another Kirkbride asylum Baxter and Hathcox mention in their book is The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. This one I’m not so sure of. It doesn’t have segmented wings, but that might be because there was no need for additional wards. I believe Baxter and Hathcox when they say the building followed the Kirkbride plan, but I’m not inclined to add it to the list. For the most part I don’t count buildings without at least one pair of set back wing sections.
Both of these institutions were private asylums, which is probably why you don’t hear so much about them (clever word play not intended). Saint Vincent’s was founded by a Catholic charity in 1858, although the Kirkbride building wasn’t begun until 1888. It shut down some time in the 1980s. Sheppard Pratt was funded by endowments from wealthy merchants Moses Sheppard and Enoch Pratt. It opened in 1891 and is still a functioning psychiatric center.
Since I mentioned it, check out America’s Care of the Mentally Ill: A Photographic History if you can. It’s full of old photos and drawings of asylums. You can preview it online by following this link: America’s Care of the Mentally Ill: A Photographic History.