Willard State Hospital

Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane was New York’s second hospital for dealing with the mentally ill. Located in the Finger Lake region of New York on Lake Seneca. The land plotted for the new hospital would be on the failed campus of New York’s first Agricultural College. It later would be converted into the “calmer natured” female patient housing called the Grandview in 1870. The architects assigned to the new hospital were William H. Willcox and George Rowley. They choose a Second Empire Victorian style for the hospital that would be laid out in the Kirkbride Plan. Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane opened on October 13, 1869. The first patients admitted was a deformed woman who has been chained most other life. By 1877 the hospital would be the nations largest facility treating the mentally ill. Most patients were free to come and go around the campus but being in the middle of nowhere there wasn’t many places to go. In 1892 Hadley Hall was built to keep the patients entertained with a theater, gym, bowling alley, and snack bar. With growing admissions, Elliot Hall was built in 1931 to keep up with the ever growing hospital. Some types of therapy and treatments offered were electro-shock and ice baths. Even with these new advances most hospitals at the time seemed more like a prison than a hospital. Over crowding, budget cuts, under staffing, lack of therapy and personal connection became an issue. In the early 1970s public was made more aware of these harsh conditions and changes needed to be made. Closing and deinsitutionlaizing many patients was put to the front. In the 1980s the main hospital (Kirkbride) was demolished. Other buildings like Pines and Maples were left open. By the mid 1990s most state funded hospitals were closed including Willard. In 1995 after the closure of the hospital an employee found 400 patients suitcases in the attic of the hospital dating back to the early 1900s. Today campus is mixed used as an active Willard drug treatment center.