I first learned of Chateau Miranda (a/k/a Noisy Castle) from one of my photography books. It is a place that might inspire a brilliant novel!
I never got to see the Greystone Kirkbride building in person.This news is so sad and doesn’t even make financial sense! It is such a shame that the government is spending nearly $35 million to demolish a building that private corporations would have saved. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. This is how the State of New Jersey thinks it should manage taxpayers’ funds? Really? Unbelievable!
The abandoned Glenn Dale Hospital in Maryland would be on my wish list of places to explore if it was cleaned up a little and open to the public. I know, an urban explorer I am not!
Yesterday was the first day here in Savannah that actually gave some indication that we just might finally get to enjoy the fall season that I keep hearing about elsewhere in the country. After lunch, Bob and I took off for downtown to take a walk and enjoy the overcast day that makes the city look particularly green and magical somehow. We stumbled into the Gutstein Gallery and checked out the Craig Frazier exhibit that is showing through November 1.
Many of the color print exhibits appear surreal, and I would direct you to Mr. Frazier’s website to peruse his portfolio and collection. I very much like the series of the man who climbs on rocks to lasso the moon. Unfortunately, the photos I took of the color prints did not translate very well because of glare in the display windows. However, I did manage a few passable shots of some of the sketches that interested me the most. This is how it all begins, anyway. A man with a pen and paper, birthing a new idea.
As you might imagine, as the author of Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums, I like to keep up with the news on which abandoned asylums are being repurposed and opening to the public. I get so excited thinking about the history and architecture of the buildings being preserved! For me, my initial interest has always gone back to the thrill of just exploring a magnificent, historical building. Are these buildings haunted? Yes, in the sense of having stories and a rich history. Sometimes we can just appreciate art and architecture for what they are and put the ghost stories on hold.
The asylum conversions that I am most excited to see are:
1. Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane – Buffalo, New York:
This is a Kirkbride building from the late 1800’s that is being repurposed for a hotel and conference center. They are still doing events while the conversion is going on. I have tried twice to get up there to Buffalo and take an in-depth tour, but I keep having flight issues getting out of Atlanta!
2. Fergus Falls State Hospital – Fergus Falls, Minnesota:
Another Kirkbride that is being saved by Historic Properties, Inc. If all goes according to plan, the hotel that is planned will open in December 2015. This will be a mixed use development, which will include restaurants and apartments.
3. Traverse City State Hospital – Traverse City, Michigan:
The Minervini Group has truly made The Village at Grand Traverse Commons a community. This is quite possibly the gold standard for asylum conversions. They have created a live/work community with park space, biking and hiking trails, and even a farmers market! If I moved to Michigan, I would SO live here.
4. Danvers State Asylum – Danvers, Massachusetts:
The former Danvers State Asylum was converted into apartments in 2008. The asylum is perhaps most famous for the movie Session 9.
5. Lakeville State Hospital – Lakeville, Massachusetts:
This is one that is purportedly still up for sale at a cool $7 million.
6. Fairfield Hills State Hospital – Newtown, Connecticut:
Commercial opportunities are abundant over on the Fairfield Hills campus. The public is welcome and hiking trails are available to enjoy.
I am very excited about Ryan Dunn’s book that is coming out in March 2015. The book is entitled Savannah’s Afterlife: True Tales of a Paranormal Investigator. In addition to being an author and paranormal investigator, Ryan also operates Afterlife Tours in historic Savannah, Georgia. He was kind enough to let us tag along on an 8:00 tour last Friday night.
The locations we visited included: Twelve West Oglethorpe, the Foley House, Savannah Theatre, Colonial Cemetery, the Olde Pink House, and Moon River Brewery. Since moving to Savannah a year ago, I have been captivated several times by the old dilapidated home at Twelve West Oglethorpe.
I have heard many various stories about the home, but Ryan’s tour is unique in the fact that he has not only personally investigated each location, he has actually done extensive research with the Georgia Historical Society and other sources to tell the truth about the history of the locations. He is not just standing on a corner spouting recounts of local legends. He’s telling visitors what the documents actually show. I respect that a lot.
The other unique characteristic about how he runs his tours is that he shares evidence that he’s personally collected during investigations. You may see a combination of photographs, videos, and hear Class “A” EVPs.
Ryan has been featured on A&E’s My Ghost Story.
Five Questions for Ryan Dunn:
What made you interested in the field?
I became interested in the field when I moved into a haunted house here in Savannah’s Historic District in April of 2010. I began doing paranormal research as a hobby, but soon started catching very compelling evidence. It soon became a full time business and also evolved into a ghost tour company too.
Any dream locations to investigate?
My dream locations would be 432 Abercorn Street here in Savannah, Waverly Hills Sanitarium in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Winchester Mystery House in California just to name a few.
Can you talk about the pilot you are filming at Central State Asylum in Milledgeville, Georgia?
The upcoming investigation in Milledgeville will be a filming of a pilot for a new paranormal show based here in Savannah that we will be pitching to national networks as part of a 5 episode package. We intend to embody the flare of Savannah itself and the fact we live in the paranormal hotspot of the United States. Not only do we do investigations, but we live this day to day.
Do you have a favorite place to investigate in Savannah?
One of my favorite places to investigate in Savannah is the Savannah Theatre because we always capture great evidence there. Also, the Moon River Brewery always gives us great results too. We will be doing our 8th investigation there on October 19.
Any plans for a second book?
I am currently conducting research for a sequel, and intend to began writing that one this fall.
Thank you to Ryan for having us out. I am particularly interested in getting an update about the Central Asylum investigation!
Labor Day found me fighting for a place amongst a crowd at the Museum of Modern Art. I like to walk with my elbows protruding up around my shoulders. Correction – I do not LIKE to, it is just sometimes necessary so that others know that I am not amenable to them getting free rubs. Moving on.
I did get to see Starry Night and Persistence of Memory. The former was impressive because nothing you see online does it justice. The reason is because none of the photos capture the actual swirls in the paint. I probably appreciated this painting more than most because I thought about poor tortured van Gogh sitting in his little asylum cell in Saint-Remy and looking outside at the sky to paint this image. This is the first time I have ever actually seen lasting evidence of insanity in art (in person). The swirls are manic, and they impressed me with their blatant craziness. The latter was cool for novelty, but honestly there was nothing gained by me from in-person viewing. I am very aware of time and how it will kill everything and leave rotting decay in its path.
Links from the Moma for the above-mentioned paintings:
The real surprise show-stopper for me was Giorgio de Chirico’s Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure), 1914.
The very title alone made me stop in my tracks. The Melancholy of Departure? This guy was brilliant. I always just called it a vacation hangover. But the way he writes it, you can be melancholy over your departure whether you are going home or leaving home. Montparnasse was a real train station where Chirico lived in Paris. The critics like to debate about what the bananas mean and call out his skewed sense of perspective, since he is making the wind blow from both directions – as evidenced at the top where the flags are going to the left, and the smoke from the train is going to the right. Let me tell you what I think about all of this.
The bananas don’t mean anything. There is clearly a circus tent to the left of the painting and he is telling us that the earth is populated by a bunch of monkey clowns. This is more evidence of the Great Emptiness. We are all living (or escaping from if we are smart/lucky) our own nightmares. There are things all around us (like bananas) that just don’t mean squat. We have to navigate around all this meaningless crap because we are fighting against the clock always to find meaning and purpose. But there is no meaning or purpose in the Great Emptiness! It’s a cosmic joke. Earth is hell. Surprise! And the train? The train is empty. When the clock runs down the train comes for you and you alone. There is no conductor, no other passengers. Just an empty black train.
Coming for to carry me home…
That’s what I think he was trying to say. He died in 1978 or I would call him up and ask him.