Photo: "Seclusion Doors"


These seclusion rooms are located on the first floor, basement level, of the Polk Building, or K Building, at the Western State Hospital in Tennessee. These rooms contained two doors, the first has an open window with a metal covering. The second is a solid wood door with a glass window. This allowed nurses to check on patients but kept the noise to a minimum.  

Photo: "K Building"


The Polk Building, or K Building, at the Western State Hospital in Tennessee, formerly known as the West Tennessee Hospital for the Insane, was constructed in 1932 as a psychopathic facility with 400 beds for patients.

(Print - )

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 -

Photo: "Lost Stories Inspire Me"

Tonight, I was a guest on a Google+ 'Hangout On Air' where we talked about inspiration.  I shared this photograph and explained how finds like this are what drive me to continue photographing forgotten places. Not only do I enjoy the beautiful architecture, but I strive to document the stories that aren't being told; stories about patients, employees and visitors to all these empty spaces. 

The suitcases have been sitting in the attic of the West Tennessee Hospital for the Insane' for decades. When patients were admitted, they carried one suitcase of items to the hospital. Some contained curlers and hair brushes, others contained photographs and letters from loved ones, but all of the suitcases you see here were never returned to the patients and these stories remained lost inside this attic forever. 

Photo: "Nurse's Station"

The 1932 Gothic Revival style Polk Building, designed for psychopathic use, on the Western State Hospital campus in Tennessee was constructed to assist with overcrowding. Originally designed to house 400 beds, the building was constructed with the mentality that "the prime demand was patient treatment with an architecture providing friendliness and warmth."

(Buy a print)

Photo: "Clinical Operating Room"

Western State Hospital in Tennessee, also known as West Tennessee Hospital for the Insane, opened it's doors in 1889, admitting patients on November 22nd into the Kirkbride Building. For over 30 years, this one building provided adequate space for the number of patients admitted, however, overcrowding resulted in the need for an additional Psychopathic Hospital. In 1932, the four story Polk Building (shown here) was erected as a new residency for 400 patients.