Photo: "Through the Eyes of a Patient"

Many patients admitted to psychiatric facilities in the late 1800's and early 1900's did not actually need mental health care. Many patients exhibited symptoms of laziness, hysteria, religious enthusiasm or other health conditions, such as menopause, leading doctors to believe the patients were mentally ill.

Once admitted, the patients would be placed in a single or double room, with one or two beds and a single window through which they would gaze upon the world. Most of us can't even begin to imagine how devastatingly lonely that would feel.

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: "Filtered Sunlight"

 
 

Patient rooms, such as this, inside the former Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey were designed to hold one or two patients, but within about 10 years of opening, the hospital experienced severe overcrowding and was treating almost double the patients it was designed to treat. Patients were crammed to these small rooms and beds were added and moved into the hallways. 

Photo: "Theatre Gold"

 
 

This theatre was part of a facility for feeble-minded women, particularly between the ages of 16 and 45.  It was designed to detain, segregate, care for and train these women and operated from 1920 to 1998. 
 

Despite the hospital's dark history, this theatre was quite beautiful. I loved the worn texture of the wooden seats, the missing tiles on the ceiling playing a game of Tetris and the beautiful massive windows with gaudy golden draperies. 

 

Photo: "Empty Hallways of Lost Promises"

Over the past year, the state of New Jersey has accepted multiple bids, upwards of $150 million for the restoration of Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, but today they made the incredibly tragic decision to demolish the building at a cost of $34 million.

Not only is this facility historic in a medical sense, but architecturally it's significant as well. Prior to the Pentagon being constructed, it was the largest contiguous stone building in the United States. It's a beautiful Kirkbride building, with open spaces full of light, beautiful architecture and a lot of life. I wish nothing more than to see buildings like these being constructed today, but tragically, we're about to tear one down. This is a terrible decision New Jersey. You'll realize this someday, but sadly it will be too late...

News story: http://www.dailyrecord.com/story/news/local/2014/08/14/greystone-demolition-bid-awarded-m/14071177/

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: "Violent Ward Doors"

 

Female violent wards at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris Plains, NJ.

 

The Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital completely shut down a few years ago, but many of the outer portions of the wings, such as the female violent wards, have been in-operational since the 1970's.

Sadly, this hospital is currently on the list for demolition and is scheduled to be torn down sometime this year.

(Follow the 'Preserve Greystone' Facebook Page to stay updated  - https://www.facebook.com/preservegreystone )

Photo: "Memories of Four"

 

Painting in the female violent ward

 

Four years ago, I had the opportunity to shoot the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey. I spent a mere few hours wandering the halls, feeling incredible rushed and unable to cure the longing in my heart for seeing the whole complex and spending countless minutes staring and photographing every detail of the asylum. 

When I returned home from that trip, I discovered about 30 of the less than 100 images I had taken, were missing off the memory card; I was devastated. 

Earlier this month, I had a chance to return and the asylum was as glorious as I remembered. Unfortunately, there is a lot more graffiti and destruction from the people who have set foot inside the walls since, but the natural decay was just as beautiful as I remembered. 

I saw this painting, in the female violent ward, four years ago. It was one of the images I lost and when I stumbled upon it again, I remembered exactly how it felt to stand in front of it and take a photo years ago. 

Photo: "Blueberries"

 

Administration Building at Hudson River State Hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York.

 

This asylum was constructed along the Hudson River in 1871 following the Kirkbride plan. The facility closed in the early 2000's and experienced a major fire in the male wing in 2007, leaving most of that wing collapsed. 

Photo: "Therapy Tubs"

I'm heading out of town for the holidays today, but I experienced a burst of photographic inspiration and dug into the albums from my May 2013 trip to the South this morning.

Here's a shot from inside the Polk building at the former West Tennessee Hospital, designed for psychopathic use and constructed in 1932 to aid in overcrowding. These tubs were part of a hydrotherapy program for patients, which involved covering the tubs with heavy fabric (you can see the securing points on the side of the tubs) to trap steam, only allowing the person's head to be outside the tub. 

(Print - http://smu.gs/1jtXi1R)