Photo: "The Last Red Door"

 
 

Corridor inside the Wingdale Wards at Harlem Valley State Hospital. 

During my visit last year, I discovered the owners had begun illegal abatement of the property. The State of New York shut down the work being done on the property, but the damage had already been done. Just months before, this building showed evidence of natural decay. The floors were covered in moss and many rooms contained artifacts such as old telephones. 

Photo: "Into the Night Light"

As I was packing up to leave the Hudson River Psychiatric Hospital in New York last spring, I realized I hadn't gotten a shot of this collapsed room, though I had walked right past it earlier in the day. I rushed down a few floors and set up just after the sun set behind the hill and light begun to turn soft.

It's not often I bracket my shots, but I made the decision to quickly snap 3 images of varying exposure, unsure if I would ever edit them together in a composite. Tonight, I finally blended all the images together to help balance the exposure for the bright windows, the room and also the dark collapse. 

Photo: "The Green Room"

I remembered seeing this gorgeous room on my very brief first visit to Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital many years ago, but I didn't find the time to photograph it. During my trip last Spring, I made it a priority to find it and photograph it. 

This room did not contain any built in closets so one could speculate that this room was intended to hold multiple patient beds and house more than one patient. 

(This image is a pano comprised of 3 horizontal images taken with my tilt shift and stacked vertically.)

 
 

Photo: "Half Time"

The Laurelton State Village facility, the first of its kind, was designed to segregate and care for "feeble-minded" women between the ages of 16 and 45. These women were mentally ill and sent here to be looked after in the early 1920's when the facility was completed. 

In 1938, over 700 women were residents and there was a waiting list another 600 women long. During their stay here, most women participated in some form of labor in the cannery, kitchen, laundry or in the fields. There were also recreational portions to the campus, as seen above. 

In the late 1960's a radical change was made and males were admitted to the campus. Decades later, in 1998, the facility would shut its doors.  

Photo: "Not Always Good Memories, But Always Significant"

Female violent ward in Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital - Morris Plains, New Jersey

People often ask me what draws me to places like this, but the answer is not always obvious to most. Sure people understand that I find beauty in decaying asylums, factories, ships and houses of worship, because let's be honest, they just don't make them like they used to, but the real reason is much less superficial. 

I do this for me because it makes me feel alive and it's what I want to contribute to this world, images of historic places that we are tearing down way too quickly. But I also do it for the dozens of grandparents, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, cousins and friends who knew someone who was cared for or worked in one of these locations. During the time that these asylums, for example, were in operation, very little was known about mental health. People who were lazy, or practicing religion to frequently were admitted into an asylum. Even women experiencing menopause were deemed insane and placed inside these facilities. 

When I receive an email from a women who never knew her Grandmother because she was admitted to Greystone Park Psychiatric asylum in 1918, or a note from a son about how his father was stationed on the USNS Northern Light many decades ago, I am quickly reminded that this is why I photograph these places. It's not for money, status, likes or +1's, it's for the memories that remain inside these walls, the stories eagerly hoping to come back to life. 

Photo: "Male Violent Wards II"

 

Tech: Canon 5D Mark III + 17 TS-E. Edited using Lightroom and DxO FilmPack 3

 

The Greystone Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey opened its doors to the first patients in 1877 and 342 patients were immediately submitted. 

The main building at Greystone was built following the Kirkbride plan and contained two wings, one for each sex. The violent wards, shown here, are at the end of the second floor of the male wing.

 

Photo: Female Violent Ward Collapse

Female violent wards, Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital - New Jersey

When the outer wings of Greystone Park Psychiatric closed in the 1970's, a plan to protect the roof was never implemented and after experiencing many years of extreme East Coast weather, the decay has become dangerous.

The hospital completely shut down in 2008 after a new hospital was constructed behind the original campus. Sadly, this beautiful historic stone building is slated for demolition later this year.

Photo: "Little Boxes"

 

Storage closet in the female wards at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey.

Over the last few decades much of this hospital has been collapsing due to weather and lack of upkeep. The Administration section of the asylum was the most recently abandoned portion, vacated less than 10 years ago, due to the construction of a new Greystone behind the current decaying building.

Unfortunately, this building is in danger of demolition and will likely be nothing more than a piece of forgotten history by the end of 2014.

 

Photo: "Operating Room"

 
 

The California Hospital for the Chronic Insane at Agnews was constructed following the Kirkbride plan and opened in Santa Clara, California in 1888. It was the third mental health facility in the state of California at the time. Sadly, a short 21 years later, most of the hospital was damaged during the 1906 earthquake, which wound up killing 101 patients and 11 employees. 

Dr. Stocking was superintendent at the time and he helped develop a new plan for the hospital, following the cottage plan. Buildings 3 and 4 were constructed in 1908 and designed as wards for men (Bldg 3) and women (Bldg 4). Both these buildings connect to Building 30, the clock tower building, was also known as the "Treatment" building. The building contained three drug laboratories and 2 dispensaries, an electro-theraputic treatment room, hydrotherapy room, photography lab, large solarium, nurses' rooms, massage room, dental ward and operating room. Naturally, the basement of this building also contained a morgue. 

By the 1940's, Agnews suffered overcrowding, as did many mental health hospitals in the country, and three new wards of a Spanish Colonial Revival style were constructed to accommodate the influx of patients. The hospital began to grow well into the 1960's when much of the campus was repurposed to treat mentally retarded patients and by 1971 that was the primary function of the hospital. 

In 1995, Agnews was scheduled for closure and the hospital now site abandoned and for sale. 

Photo: "Single Family Rehabilitation Home"

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Inside Unit 2, a very large Children's Preventorium at the former South Mountain Sanatorium, lies this unusual structure. Located on the fourth floor in the center section of the building, sits what resembles a standard family house, complete with a living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen and two small bedrooms. Sadly, not much information can be found about this house, but from the documentation I have found, it seems it was designed to be a rehabilitation home for a family with a child who had tuberculosis, but was not yet showing the active symptoms of the disease.