Jamie Davis Writes


Buffalo State Asylum

Asylums That Are Being Repurposed

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.


Plans underway to repurpose an historic treatment center in Fergus Falls


The Richardson Olmsted Complex

The Richardson Olmsted Complex
The Richardson Olmsted Complex

Formerly known as the Buffalo State Asylum, this site is undergoing renovations to become a boutique hotel, conference center, and visitor’s center. This is one of the few Kirkbride buildings still standing in America, and to have it preserved for reuse is nothing short of a miracle. Frederick Law Olmsted designed the grounds. They have been offering tours, but unfortunately I have not gotten to take one yet.

The Richardson Olmsted Complex
The Richardson Olmsted Complex

This part of Buffalo is so much fun to me too. Within walking distance you have the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, all the antique, funky shops, coffee shops, restaurants and bars of Elmwood Avenue, and Delaware Park. It’s a great cultural getaway from all the touristy Niagara Falls type stuff.
Further Reading:

Blog at

Up ↑