August 20, 2012

RiverSide State Hospital

 RiverSide State Hospital  for the Insane Kirkbride sits on a hill overlooking the Hudson River in New York. Completed in 1871, it was built on land once owned by the Roosevelts. Frederick Clarke Withers designed the building, while Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux designed the grounds.

This Kirkbride is somewhat unique in that one wing is shorter than the other. While some Kirkbride buildings have lost parts of wings to demolition, in the case of Hudson River this feature was planned before construction was finished. Apparently there was an expectation of fewer female patients than male patients (the Kirkbride Plan stipulated that each sex be housed in its own wing), and despite the asymmetry, the building is considered complete.

The institution, now known as the State Hospital P for the Insane, has been downsized drastically and the Kirkbride building and much of the land and complex of buildings around it have been vacated. A private developer plans on adapting the property to a mixed residential/commercial community while maintaining it's historic character. On May 31st, 2007 a large fire broke out in the south wing of the Kirkbride building. A major portion of the wing was completely devastated. An investigation ruled that lightning was the cause.






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