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Both the Greystone and Athens Kirkbride buildings are in danger of being partially or completely demolished.
Please click on the link above for more information and to see how you can help.


Mission Statement


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The Mission

The mission of this site is to archive both historical and current information on asylums across the United States and around the world.

The Statement

This site is dedicated to the history of asylums in all forms. The term of asylum is applied to not only what is commonly thought of: mental hospitals, but can also be applied to sanatoriums, state training schools, reform schools, almshouses, and orphanages. These institutions have and continue to play a major part in today's society.

Everyone throughout the United States and in many other countries has in one way or another felt the touch of these institutions. These places have both directly and indirectly affected people and their families. They have shaped lives and created many popular myths about them.

With all that in mind, this site was created to help in the historical research of any institutions that can be classified as an asylum. It was created for both serious researchers, those who are doing genealogical research, and people with an interest in asylums.

Featured Article Of The Week

Callan Park Hospital for the Insane


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The Colonial Government bought the whole 104.5 acres as a site for a new lunatic asylum to be designed according to the enlightened views of the American Dr Thomas Kirkbride. Colonial Architect James Barnett worked in collaboration with Inspector of the Insane Dr Frederick Norton Manning to produce a group of some twenty neo-classical buildings, completed in 1885 and subsequently named the Kirkbride Block, offering progressive patient care.

The asylum was the 'institutional linchpin' of moral therapy and the appropriate design of the building was crucial to the success of the therapy. Pleasant surroundings and well designed, comfortable, small-scale buildings were imperative. These aims were embodied in a pavilion-type layout, where small buildings had all-weather connections and the spaces in between were landscaped as courtyards for outdoor activities. Manning chose Chartham Down because it was a pavilion-type layout in which separate ward blocks enclosed airing courts. Ultimately, the combination of Manning's understanding of moral therapy, Barnet's architecture, and the outstanding site at Callan Park, produced a design of a higher standard than Chartham.

Together they designed five male and five female wards, to accommodate approximately 600 patients. The wards were symmetrically arranged about the main cross axis on which the official buildings were planned. Eight of the lofty, airy wards, had large airing courts – some with a view to the Blue Mountains. The other two had high retaining walls caused by the slope of the land. A remarkable continuous covered veranda linked the buildings. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

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In 1872 the total cost of the buildings thus far reached $1,000,000 with current accommodations for only 212 patients. The State Comptroller criticized the managers for spending such and excessive amount of money and having little to show for it. In the managers reply it was pointed out that after the close of the Civil War, and especially by the enactment of the new eight-hour law, the greatly increased cost of both labor and material was responsible for the high costs.

Recent Message Board Posts

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Featured Video

This film documents the case of a mental patient in the 1950's and was filmed at Norman State Hospital.

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v3.8.4 (9/15/2009) about...

Asylum News   (news you can edit!)

May 28, 2014 NEW STATE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL BRINGS CARE INTO THE 21ST CENTURY

BERLIN, VERMONT – The nearly complete $38 million Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital is a state-of-the-art mental health facility that feels all but institutional.

January 27, 2014 A kinder approach: Former Allentown State Hospital CEO is recognized for reducing restraint tactics

The former CEO walks on the roof of the Allentown State Hospital. He is armed with his high-definition camera and decades of memories to provide context to what he sees. Each step on the roof frames a new perspective of the hospital he helped to transform. The rooms in the former psychiatric center are empty. It has been three years since the hospital closed. For Greg Smith, it is easy to reminisce. He can fill in the blanks, but there aren't many signs of what used to happen at the 100-year-old campus.

January 27, 2014 Taunton State Hospital again faces closure

The state's plan to close the inpatient unit at Taunton State Hospital reflects a philosophical shift that emphasizes community-based services over institutional care, a mental health official said Friday. For the third straight year, the state is proposing to move all inpatient beds from Taunton State Hospital to the new Worcester Recovery Center. In each of the past two years, the state faced staunch local opposition. As a compromise struck in the Legislature, 45 beds currently remain at Taunton State, which used to have about 170.






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