Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Photographing creepy...

A year and a half ago, a friend told me about an amazing coffee house. Her directions to it included the statement "drive up past that abandoned psychiatric hospital."  Abandoned psychiatric hospital???? I knew there were a few in the area, but I didn't know about this one.  I was curious. We decided to check out the coffee house, and on the way back, see the abandoned institution. I didn't know anything really about it.  As we drove down the road, there was no missing it, or the abandoned factory across the street (which we saw first).

The factory had the most amazing windows (I always seem to be my favorite part!).

We drove across the street to check out the hospital. Again, I knew nothing about it at this point, and was just captivated by the buildings. They were eerie, and creepy; but I was yet to understand just how creepy they were.

On the drive home, I started reading the history on my phone (how did we exist before smart phones?!?!)  The hospital was built after WWI.  It started with only a handful of patients, but grew into an entire community housing up to 5,000 patients and 5,000 staff members. They grew their own crops, had their own church, a baseball field, bowling alley, ice cream shop. The property was made up of about 80 buildings. It was like finding a ghost town.

The buildings were beautiful and it is easy to get caught up in the town aspect of it, but of course, one wonders what went on in the hospital buildings. The more I read, I discovered this hospital was the first to use insulin shock therapy.  Doctors came from all over to learn about the therapy. Then, they started using electroshock therapy and in the 60's began doing frontal lobe labotomies. 

In the 70s, when practices changed in the mental health field, the number of patients declined. The facility closed in the early 90s.  The buildings are still standing, no demoltion or even graffiti, and it feels like a ghost town.

I started imaging the patients enduring these horrific treatments. I had nightmares that night (I can't even imagine the nightmares I would have had if I had entered any of the buildings).

I've driven past here again since, and the road we traveled on through the property is closed.  I've heard the property is well guarded and visiting is prohibited. Thankfully, I'm not planning to go back.

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