I know some of you don't believe in Santa Claus. Or you think he only gives gifts at Christmas. Those are things I used to think, too. Until Friday, July 28.
It all started when I got 3 hours of sleep the night before. My 2-year-old son (Peanut) had a dr. appointment at 9 am and I didn't get to sleep till 4. We left Hudson (WI) on our way to Grand Forks (ND) at about 10:00, after a swing through Caribou for the biggest coffee ever. I was fooking tired! After Alexandria I was doing that thing where I kept nodding off for half a second, then waking with a start as I realize I'm headed for the ditch. I stopped at a gas station in Fergus Falls for a sandwich and another cup of coffee, which I immediately inhaled. Nothing. I just couldn't stay awake. So I remembered that last time I went to that wonderful mostly-abandoned Kirkbride they have here, I got soo excited. Why don't I swing by and take some pictures and that will wake me up. (See what kirkbridebuildings.com has to say about the old Fergus Falls State Hospital.)
I took a couple of pictures and it wasn't helping.
I was too tired to get excited, even about a building so big you could fit like 5 San Havens in it.
I drove around the back.
Peanut wasn't letting me stray too far from the car, so I just snapped some pictures from the parking lot.
The main buildings are like a big horseshoe, and in the back the horseshoe is filled with buildings. I think they're plant types of buildings mostly. Most of them are no longer used.
I had just snapped this picture and was getting back into my car when a large red van pulled up and a man got out. The man had to be none other than Santa Claus himself! He was friendly (maybe even a little jolly) and had a big white beard. He said exactly what you would expect Santa Claus to say:
"Are you here for the tour?"
Could I really have been this good all year? The tour was in 15 minutes, and he was back there to get the van and pull it around front, for the driving around part of the tour. What are the chances that on a drive from Wisconsin to North Dakota, I should arrive at the Kirkbride exactly 15 minutes before the tour?
I had only one problem: Peanut. Santa said he was fine, they've had other kids on the tours! (though probably none as young as Peanut.) He would help watch him while I took pictures.
Everybody gathered in the lobby. They've taken off the old main door that was under the tower, and now you go in a door in a little new addition to the right. But you take a left and wind up in the lobby, which is completely redone except they left the old staircase. Check out that tongue!
The tour group was mostly middle-aged ladies. There were like 3 guys doing the tour, one of them being Santa Claus. The guys had all worked at the hospital in the past and were trying to save the buildings. A lady had a petition that I signed. They were suggesting Peanut sign it too :) There's an aerial photograph of the buildings and grounds hanging in the lobby, and one of the guys was giving the history of what was built and when (and sometimes why). The first building was built in 1888 and the last in 1906. The oldest wing was the farthest from the center on the left. They built in from there to the center, then built the one way over on the right and built toward the center. I didn't get to hear a lot of the history because Peanut was a wild man, running around and yelling. Oh, how was this going to go?
The first place they took us was the gym and auditorium. The old auditorium was torn down and rebuilt in 1969. I didn't take any pictures of it, in part because it looked like any other gym and auditorium built in 1969 (seen one? seen 'em all!), and in part because Peanut was still being a wild man and I was chasing him all over.
The second place we went was the cafeteria. It is no longer used, but is still kept up. The Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center (that's what its called now) has 59 "guests" who all take their meals in their rooms, and apparently not enough staff to justify a cafeteria anymore.
If you could see better through this cafeteria window, you would see the very parking lot where I was just minutes ago met by Santa Claus.
Then they took us to the area that had most recently been remodeled. The point in showing us all these remodeled parts was to show people the potential the building has for being saved and turned into something else. But that didn't mean I had to like it! ;) If you look real close at this picture, in the lower left hand corner you can see a tiny little arm. That would be Peanut. I had a tough time keeping him out of my pictures. He was running all over!
I liked the orange curtains in the rooms.
I'll take this opportunity to mention that it was HOT in there. It was over 100 degrees outside, and naturally they're not spending money to air condition the abandoned parts. It was like a fooking furnace!
this hallway will look so cool when its abandoned! If they don't tear it down right away, that is. =(
That thing in the lower left is Peanut's head! :)
There were parts that were a lot more abandoned than these, but those are for another post!