Sunday, December 27, 2009

Out and About With Betty.

When Sonny Boy comes home from college, one of our Mom and Lad activities is to go out and shoot things up--with our cameras of course.

The day before Christmas we went out to the local university that was at one time a mental institution that held up to 7000 patients. The grounds are lovely, nestled away in the green hills and the architecture is Mission Style. The college has done a good job of incorporating the old with the new though upon second look you can definitely tell what buildings were part of the state hospital.

The college is still a work in progress, with the buildings in transition from mental wards to classrooms. The day we went out there, the campus was fairly deserted except for a police officer who drove past us a couple of times. While we were walking Sonny Boy said, "Wouldn't it be cool to get into one of the old buildings?" We meandered some and came across what appeared to be the main gate. Beside it was this door:

We stepped inside and saw this one one side:

And this on the other side:

We surmised this was a way for the laundry service to receive and deliver the laundry from the wards without actually entering the grounds of the hospital itself.

We kept walking and followed a curved path to a courtyard and there, across the way, we saw this open door:

Sonny Boy's wish had come true. We looked at each other, then listened for the police car. It was deadly silent as we entered and walked down the old, deserted halls.

We walked through heavy, scarred doors...

Past the nurses' station...

Into some of the rooms...

Into the bathrooms...

I went into one of the rooms and looked out the windows.

After taking our pictures, we stepped out into the courtyard again.

Did I mention my heart was pounding the entire time I was in that building? The ghosts of the past swirled all around us.

The hospital was open from 1936-1997 and during the 40's and 50's developed drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia that helped those patents actually get back into society instead of being warehoused. Unfortunately, there were many for whom it was too late. I recently had dinner with a psychiatrist who had worked at the hospital during its operation and he said, "So many of those people were beautiful souls, tormented by this terrible disease."

Walking down those halls I was filled with a sense that I was being watched, that some of those souls were still there, wandering those halls, their beauty and torment trapped there forever.

It was an experience indeed.


Trisha Dawn said...

Wow, it really looks like a place out of a movie. I really was moved by the picture of the room. Who was it that lived there and what were their experiences? What did they think when they looked out that window, and where are they now? What legacy have they left with family?

Anonymous said...



LittleSilkDress said...

These photos have an eerie sadness to them. A desperation and quiet hope.

Bossy Betty said...

Thanks for your comments, one and all!


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