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.