Hudson river state hospital poughkeepsie new york
West wing of the Kirkbride building
When talk of the latest mental hospital came about, towns often competed with one another to be the home of the new institution. An asylum would bring short-term construction jobs, and both immediate and long-term economic benefits. Because of the perceived benefits, Poughkeepsie and Newburgh were competing with one another but in the end, Poughkeepsie won. Construction began in 1868, and on October 18, 1871 Hudson River State Hospital opened its doors to its first forty patients.
Hudson River State Hospital was a state funded institution with one of the first asylum designs of the late 19th century to accommodate 600 people. Frederick Clarke Withers was the chief architect of the High Victorian gothic style hospital featuring pressed brick and decorative iron work. Withers worked with the head doctor of the hospital when designing the interior in order to make sure it fit patient needs. The asylum was entirely masonry since fireproofing remained a major concern. Major fires in 2007 and 2010, long after the hospital's closure, destroyed a portion of the Kirkbride building but the brick and fireproof design proved to work when the fire failed to spread and destroy the entire building. May 31, 2007 lightning struck the south wing of the building causing a fire that would end up being one of Dutchess County's most serious fires in history. The 2010 fire however was believed to be set intentionally which is what led to the hiring of local law enforcement to secure the property rather than security guards.
Center corridor of Ryon Hall which held the criminally insane and most violent patients
Paperwork from the Food Service Department's discipline meeting and workshop
Hudson River State Hospital was not only the second government owned asylum to open in New York but it was also the second most expensive asylum ever built. This lavish spending did however come at a cost when they were unable to come up with the money to finish construction of the Kirkbride wing's female ward. Only two of the five wards were completed resulting in uneven wings.
Inside of the Herman B. Snow Rehabilitation Center