Motts at Opacity recently posted a new set of photos of an abandoned psychiatric hospital, which he’d previously named the “Verden Psychiatric Hospital“ (a pseudonym). This is his fourth set of photos at “Verden” and although he posted the prior three photo sets in 2005, 2008 and 2010, all four sets were shot in September and October of 2005.
Have I mentioned before that Opacity is one of my favorite sites? I love his subject matter but especially appreciate his talent for photography, his ability to artistically capture visual elements (color, shadow, texture) and to suggest mood and emotion.
So as I did with the last anonymous hospital I posted (Hudson River State Hospital in Poughkeepsie, NY), I wanted to try and find out what the actual name and location of this abandoned hospital was. After some searching, I think it has to be the Greystone Park State Hospital in Morris Plains, NJ.
According to the website Kirkbride Buildings, this hospital has also gone by the following names:
- State Asylum for the Insane at Morristown
- New Jersey State Hospital, Morris Plains
- Morris Plains State Hospital
- Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital
See comparison photos between Opacity’s “Verden” and two other websites photos of “Greystone Park State Hospital” (click pics to embiggen):
First, two from Opacity:
Compare with this one photo from Preserve Greystone:
Slide 54 of Preserve Greystone slideshow (my screen shot isn’t great):
Then and now
Preserve Greystone, Slide 9 of slideshow (Women’s Ward circa 1902):
Greystone is where the TV show “House” with Hugh Laurie was set at the end of Season 5, beginning of Season 6. The fictional Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital is Greystone Park State Hospital.
House Season 6 trailer:
Wikipedia: Greystone opened on August 17, 1876, the hospital was known as the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum at Morristown. …New Jersey’s state-funded mental health facilities were exceedingly overcrowded and sub par compared to neighboring states that had more facilities and room to house patients. Greystone was built… in part to relieve the only – and severely overcrowded – “lunatic asylum” in the state, which was located in Trenton, New Jersey.
In just four years after Greystone opened, it was already accommodating around 800 patients in a facility designed for 600. …Patient numbers are believed to have peaked in 1953 with an impressive 7,674 people packed into spaces designed for significantly fewer. An explanation for this dramatic increase can be found in the fact that World War II had ended and left many soldiers requiring treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, which included procedures such as insulin shock therapy and electroconvulsive therapy.
Opacity: Although the hospital still functions, large portions of it were closed as it downsized in the 1970s. The original hospital building was partly decommissioned in 1988, then entirely emptied of people in 2008 to move to a new building nearby. That same year, other buildings on the campus were demolished after they were deemed “irreparable.” The future of the remaining buildings is uncertain, and they are currently vacant and deemed state surplus.
Woodie Guthrie was a patient at Greystone from 1956 – 1961.
Kirkbride Buildings: On May 28, 1956, Morristown police discovered legendary singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie wandering aimlessly in a daze. After a night in jail, Guthrie was sent to Greystone Park State Hospital and would eventually be diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease—an incurable illness characterized by involuntary movements and a deterioration of mental faculties. For about five years, Guthrie lived at Greystone where Pete Seeger and a very young Bob Dylan were among his many visitors. With some humor, Guthrie referred to the hospital as “Gravestone” and the ward he stayed on as “Wardy Forty” (it being, of course, Ward 40). In 1961, he was transferred to Brooklyn State Hospital, and then to Creedmore Psychiatric Center in Queens, NY five years later. Guthrie remained at Creedmore until his untimely death in 1967.
Some unaired video of Woody’s stay at Greystone:
*Note that the websites Opacity and Kirkbride Buildings both sell prints of their photographs..