June 22nd, 2005
last week i explored building 50 of the traverse city state hospital. i gathered some information from different webpages just to give you guys an overview of this place. it is amazing. i need to go back and take more pictures. unfortunately i didnt get to go in last week.. but i definitly will next time i go.
(these are all pictures that i took)
Traverse City State Hospital
Traverse City State Hospital opened in 1885 as the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane. As its name implies, it was founded to provide care for the population of northern Michigan.
One of several Kirkbride buildings constructed in Michigan, Traverse City is the last in existence. Today the hospital's Kirkbride sits within a large complex of buildings. Various cottages and other structures of different sizes surround it. This Kirkbride appears less ominous than some of the others documented on this site. The off-white walls, large un-boarded windows, and lack of overgrowth contribute to a much more wholesome aspect.
The operation included extensive farm operations which were closed in the 1950s. The grave of a world champion milk cow remains on the grounds.
The institution (at the end called a regional psychiatric hospital) closed in 1989 as part of a nationwide trend in de-institutionalization of the mentally ill which had causes including changes in the overall philosophy of treatment, advances in medicine, and government budget concerns.
The good news is that the Traverse City community realizes that this building is still a treasure. Renovations are well under way, and the building will eventually become part of a mixed residential/commercial community within the larger city.
click here for a map of all the buildings that were part of the hospital.
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Part II - The Pool & Bath Houses
Part III - The First Floor Interior, A
Part IV - The First Floor Interior, B
Part V - The 2nd Floor Foyer, Hall, and Exterior
Part VI - The 2nd Floor Interior
Part VII - In search of the Tatham Spring
While taking photos around the pool, I heard someone speaking to me. It wasn't any of the purported ghosts of the property, but a man walking toward me from around the corner of the hotel.
"Can I help you?" he repeated.
The property is privately owned. In fact, there were a couple of dump trucks, a front-end loader and other heavy equipment parked in the front lawn of the hotel. Further beyond the lawn, were signs of an excavation project. Additionally, the hotel is surrounded on two sides by huge hay fields. The man approaching me had on a work shirt with name patches. I figured some fast-talking was in order if I was going to get to venture inside the hotel. I'd only been here about 20-30 minutes and hadn't made it that far yet.
""Hi!" I countered, smiling widely. "I just wanted to take some photos of the old Hotel before it finishes falling down. I'm not disturbing anything, just taking pictures." I thought the fact that I was a local and had grown-up in the area might help, so I added that as well.
We both developed a sense of recognition at the same moment. I'm guessing he must've recognized my face or my resemblance to my father and brother who still live in the area. He, however was wearing sunglasses, which prevented me from recognizing his face. I deduced his identity from the patches on his shirt. One read "Wilson Excavating" and the other read "Todd". This was indeed Todd Wilson, a guy just a few years older than I with whom I'd grown-up. I won't suggest that we were ever really friends, but we do have a past. Being older than me, we weren't in any school classes or organizations at the same time, but we had been raised in the same church and I have fond memories of playing softball and going on church-related outings from my childhood, of which Todd and his brother Timmy are intrinsically a part. He verbalized this first, asking if I was a Teachey, referring to my family name. I answered in the affirmative and added, "You're Todd Wilson, right?"
When he and I were children, the area in which we grew-up was still a viable agricultural community. Holsteins were herded into dairy barns twice per day for milking and fertile river bottoms such as these were filled with acres of tobacco. The advance of corporate farming in the 80's and 90's effectively killed life for the small dairy farmer and the ongoing anti-smoking campaign in this country has provided an ever decreasing need for the Burley leaf. The landscape of central Kentucky is rugged, filled with hills, forests, and riddled with limestone - none of which is very conducive to large-scale production agricultural. Many of these small yet fertile fields now sit empty, or are used for growing hay for the winter feeding of beef cattle. The dairy barns are dark, their machinery long silent and gone. The community of Tatham Springs itself was nothing like I remembered it. The church was gone and the general store which sits at the entrance to the hotel driveway was boarded-up.
Along with three other people, Todd had purchased this property a few years ago as a business venture. This soil-rich area, annually layered by the river during the flood season was no longer in demand. Since no one was interested in farming here, they were stripping the fertile topsoil and taking it to places where it was in demand. We talked briefly about the hotel. In the course of our conversation I secured his blessing to continue with my photo expedition, but I also learned a few things. He told me that recently a group of ladies from Washington, D.C. who had attended the old 4-H camp as children had visited last summer and had told him all sorts of things about what rooms they stayed-in and the various activites and things they did over the course of their stay.
He also told me that, inevitably and probably soon, he's going to have to burn the place down. He fears that someone is going to get hurt sneaking into it, since it is quite literally falling-down on its own day by day. Being so far removed from anything else of interest, major highways, or even an active community - there simply is not going to be any interest from the government or the private sector to save the building. To prove his point, as if me standing before him wasn't enough, he relayed to me that just this week he had noticed an empty can of Bud Light resting in the window sill of the second floor that wasn't there just the week before. The window it was resting on was on the side where the porch had been completely removed. Since the rooms on the sides were only accessible from the porch, he was dumbfounded about how someone got up there.
Todd soon left, as he had to take a load of topsoil to Springfield and left me to explore the building. For the purposes of this installment, we shall be touring the interior of the first level of the Hotel, including the porch and doorways. My actual tour was a mixture of upper and lower level, but for the sake of presenting the major sections of the Hotel's interior, I've opted to make the photographic tour more streamlined than my actual walk. If I may assault your sensibilities once more with the diagram (if for no other purpose that it amuses me to no end)...
..the red line indicates our journey thus far in Parts I and II. The blue line indicates what will be our photographic tour for this entry and the next, while the green numbers indicate the order we will approach them. It's not really as convoluted as it looks. The two outer branches of the "E" made by the hotel (1 & 2) were the ground floor rooms and are best presented together first. This will be the subject of this entry. The middle branch contains the dining/kitchen area (3) and the spine of the "E" (4) contains the front lobby, office and other public areas of the Hotel - including the stairway leading to the second level - which shall be where we visit in the next installment and will serve as a segue to visiting the upper level in future installments.
The side of the hotel with the porch completely removed is arguably in the worst shape. In fact, entire sections of wall are missing, exposing some of the rooms. Another thing of interest in this photo, if you look in the 4th window from the left on the upper level in the center of the photograph you will notice something gleaming in the sill.
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Part two of the exploration of an abandoned building in Caldwell Co., TX. Referencing this post made 06-20-05.
Today, I spoke to a co-worker who remembers this being in operation. He states that is at one time was a Cotton Gin. From the paperwork I found scattered around, it seems that this place has lain vacant since the late 1970's. The age definitely shows; and the place is in ruins.
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Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC W7
Resolution: 7.2MP max - All photos shot at 5MP