04/02/12 Robin Wetherbee Hamel writes "These
beautiful old buildings move me. I worked for the center (mostly in the
community) for 12 years but I was part of the psychiatric rehabilitation team
who readied the patients to move into the community and I spent many long days
on the campus. I even remember exploring old, closed buildings using the huge
old-fashioned key that unlocked every door. It was an amazing place in it's
heyday and the buildings attest to the good and the bad of all those years. I
have a old VCR tape on 'Historic Chapin House' and I love that too. I wish the
very best to all the old employees and all the patients who ever walked the
halls. Fondly, Robin Hamel RNC"
06/05/13 Susan Lominska writes "My aunt Vera L. Smith MD was a psychiatrist at
Willard. She died in 1980."
10/28/11 AymeeSue writes "These are great...I have just about the same
shots..You are lucky and got more than I did.."
Taken on 06/16/10 Old Willard
Psych Center In 1864 Dr. Sylvester D. Willard of
Albany was the Secretary of the State Medical Society. Legislature
authorized him to investigate the condition of the insane and he submitted a
report in 1865. This report resulted in the creation of an asylum but
since Dr. Willard died that same year, they named the asylum after him. The Willard Asylum opened on October 13, 1869 and was the
first United States institution for chronically ill patients, employing more
sophisticated diagnosis and treatment methods then previous mental hospitals.
At one time farmland was included on the property, which the patients worked
on, and is now part of Bonavista State Park Golf Course. Later it was
named the Willard Psychiatric Center and in 1975 was listed on the National
Registry of History Places. In the mid 1980's one of the original
buildings was demolished. The entire facility closed in the Spring
of 1995 and has been empty ever since. It is located on the grounds of the
new psych center, owned by the DOC. On Dec 7, 2007
427 forgotten trunks and suitcases were found in an attic and are now part of a
traveling exhibit (see
link here). The center is huge and among other things had a lab, various
meeting halls, a projection room, and a
cemetery (where over
6000 patients were buried over the years).
Fixtures and wheelchairs and furniture still sits inside, as well as surgical
and morgue equipment. More pictures are
here and vintage ones
can be found here at the
on 8/24/11 wrote "I just read through the site telling the stories of a few of
the patients that lived there, via the things found in their luggage in the
attic, wow, poignant stuff, reality is better, and sadder, than fiction. I hope
they were happy sometimes."
1/8/12 Dr. Rehab writes about "The cemetery if you can call it that" - "I live
in the area and am a social worker by trade. I recently went to the cemetery and
was expecting nothing lavish but I thought there would be some kind of marker
for each grave or at least for a group of graves. What I found was a huge open
field with high grass and not marker one. I found probably some of the first
grave sites in a grove of small trees. About 57 graves marked by cast iron
markers with a number in each one. So that's 57 out of 5776. If you took the
time you could figure out where some of the rows of graves were stretched out
for a hundred yards an a row three feet apart from the next or the row above or
below. In one section the graves had sunk about two feet after the caskets
rotted and the graves were not filled back in leaving it perfectly obvious where
some poor mishappen tortured soul was more or less dumped. There must have at
one time been more markers because I found cement blocks in the nearby woods
that had been dumped there each with a rusted number on it. All tossed in a
pile. It must have been to hard to mow around them once a year. In any
case there were only about 30 of them. There also was in one corner what I
think was a cemetery for indigent Civil War vets. These had nice markers and
seemed to be taken care of. It was a strange afternoon walk that showed how as a
society we have historically delt with people with anguish we can only imagine."
better, and sadder, than fiction. I hope they were happy sometimes."
2/27/12 scoutbob writes "Just this weekend, the Scout troop I help lead ventured
down to Camp Babcock-Hovey, which is not far from the facility. Most of us were
not familiar with the area. The boys chose to do a geocache that they had found
information on. It turned out that the cache was a little over a mile north of
the camp. Our hiking venture ended up taking us onto the property. We came out
of the woods just south of the old psych center building. Very eerie, yet
intersting. We walked out to the main road, discovering that we were, in fact,
on DOC land (oops!). The geocache that we were following was called "Dead
Crazy". It was not until we go to the cemetary grounds, just around the corner
from the center, that we realized what we were stumbling upon. We found the iron
markers around the area where the geocache was hidden. We then wandered over to
where the civil war cemetary markers were. I found this very awe-inspiring, yet
sad that these veterans seem to be in a forgotten area. There is also an area
marked as the 'Old Jewish Cemetary', where jewish patients had been buried. I
would love to get the chance to do a little more exploring of this very
interesting place." On
5/3/17 ian writes "my grandmother worked here for many years tours have stopped
and it is now used as a drug treatment place. i love this place."
writes "This is a classic example of good public building and design, However if
you look closely at the brickwork quality, it is obvious that there has been no
regard given to the standard of workmanship, the bonding is absolute rubbish.
Such a pity, because this could have been an icon of construction if there had
been an iota of supervision."
CharlesB writes "A great collection of shots of
the old psych center ! It is larger than I imagined and complete with the
architectural gems, like belfries, etc. This website puts you in a powerful
position to ask permission to do a photo essay on, say, the insides of such
structures. Have you ever received any on-line or written reviews of the "Old
Abandoned Buildings" website ? If the owners don't remove these buildings, they
might secretly desire to have them noticed. I think I further wondered if
someone came out with a bi-monthly magazine on abandoned structures of different
kinds - homes, barns, train stations, churches, etc. it might have a wide
audience. Something is feeding this frenzy. Look at the number of new books that
have been published recently on Amazon on this subject."
Pearl Gardnet writes "It is both interesting and sad to see these old buildings
in the state that they are in.Being a history buff I am drawn to the past and I
love seeing yesterday in the present. Just thinking somewhat what a waste many
of these structures could be re-purposed and given a new life to keep the
history going instead of receding with decay and disappearing all together. What
a tragic loss that would be."