Finding Asylum: Tracing the evolution of five Kirkbride Planned hospitals for the insane

The elegant rooftop of the Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts. (Christopher Payne)

The elegant rooftop of the Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts. (Christopher Payne)

The Victorian-era psychologist Thomas Story Kirkbride advocated the use of fresh air and elegant architecture for healing mental illnesses. Under the Kirkbride Plan for asylums, patients resided in extensive, well-landscaped grounds and palace-like structures. Yet inside, unplanned by the architects, patients often were restrained in chains and dark dungeons and suffered ice-water baths.

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Plan would surround Poughkeepsie’s long-vacant Hudson River Psychiatric Center with suburban homes, shopping

Architecture, Development, East, News, Preservation
Thursday, September 10, 2015
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19th century postcard depicting The Kirkbride (Courtesy asylumprojects.org)

19th century postcard depicting The Kirkbride Hudson River State Hospital. (Courtesy Asylum Projects)

The long-vacant Hudson River Psychiatric Center in Poughkeepsie, New York, is poised for redevelopment. The 156-acre hospital complex, listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), was built in 1871 and closed in 2001. Designed by Frederick Clarke Withers, with a landscape architecture plan by Olmsted & Vaux, the site’s significance derives primarily from the expressive Gothic Revival architecture organized under the Kirkbride Plan. According the NRHP entry, 11 of the buildings on site have particular historic significance.
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Frenemies of Yore: Olmsted & Vaux

East
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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Alexander Garvin signs books at a literary breakfast hosted by the Bryant Park Corporation and 34th Street Partnership.

No soggy Wednesday morning in New York could deter park aficionados, urban planners, and assorted Olmstedians from attending a talk and book signing by Alexander Garvin and Robert Twombly. The former head of planning at the LMDC, Garvin is the author of Public Parks: The Key to Livable Communities (W.W. Norton, $59.95), just hitting the bookstores this week. Twombly’s Frederick Law Olmsted: Essential Texts (W.W. Norton, $24.95), came out this past summer.

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