Kate Broderick Photography on Facebook

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barring Your Dreams of the World Outside

Seeing Hudson River Psychiatric for the first time was, to say the least, breathtaking. It is by far one of the most beautiful Kirkbrides I have ever seen with its stained glass and elaborate metal bars on the windows. Even the portions that were damaged by fire were gorgeous as much of the architectural detail remained intact.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Worcester State Hospital

For one time, and one time only, my blog will not contain a photo! Rather, it will contain the link to Associated Content where I have published an article on the demolition of Worcester State Hospital. Every click counts so please view and take the time to vote on my article. Happy reading!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Kirkbride Revisited

Since I had to go to the Bryan Building for a meeting today, I decided to stop and take some photos of what little is left of Worcester State. The woman I met with, Anne Azier who is the head of nursing, showed me the electronic slide show of the new hospital plan that is being shown in the lobby of the Bryan Building. The state of the art facility will sprawl across the entire campus, right behind the Clocktower which is one of two buildings that will not be demolished (the other is the Hooper Turret, one of the round day rooms to the left of the Clocktower). The new complex will hold 326 beds and a portion of it resembles a mini Kirkbride from the sky.

Posted by Picasa

Copper Rain

This photo is strikingly reminiscent of the cuppola at Northampton State Hospital. The cuppolas are made of copper and are therefore worth quite a bit of money, so they are very often salvaged and sold during demolition.

Posted by Picasa

An Old Friend Injured

Demolition began on Worcester State Hospital about three months ago. I was there today for an interview in the Bryan Building and of course stopped to watch the progress of construction. The piece above is all that is left of the wards. One small corner, only four walls, is all that still stands and it won't be there much longer.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Solid State

A stereo left behind at Belchertown State School sat crushed under piles of plaster that fell from the ceiling in the theater. Sun coming in from the skylight in the hallway made this shot possible.

Yellow Submarine

The yellow of the walls in the theater of the Belchertown State School is almost gone now, peeled away by the elements that are free to roam through the building thanks to the all but nonexistant roof. The arches of the doors leading in from the tiny lobby are still beautiful and still beg to be photographed.


At the top of the stairs to the balcony in the theater of Belchertown State School is the fire exit that has been propped open for as long as I can remember. So this becomes the gratuitous peeling paint photo.

Changing Administration

The administration building at Belchertown State School is the second most architecturally interesting building on campus. As strange as it sounds, after reading Ben Ricci's book Crimes Against Humanity I actually took the book with me and reread his description of his first walk up those stairs to admit his son Robert to Belchertown. The red metal door that is now at the top of the stairs was added when the building was closed down. The original doors that, judging by the door frame, must have been double wooden doors were most likely removed but the double doors inside still remain and lead up a second set of stairs to a large expanse of glass and counter that would have once been the reception area. To the left is a smaller office behind a more modern glass wall with a round opening and a small slot for sliding paperwork through. Behind the glass is a giant, ancient looking switchboard, an old rotary phone, and shreds of yellowed paperwork. All in all, the feeling created in that first glance is one of overwhelming imposition.

The Long Drive Home

Ruth Sinkiewicz-Mercer wroter her autobiography with the help of Atty. Steven Kaplan in 1979 and it chronicled her years at Belchertown State School. Ruth had cerebral palsy and her parents sent her to BSS in the mid-1950's where she was immediately admitted to the infirmary which was the only building that had wheelchair access. Her wheelchair, however, was taken away from her and she was placed in a bed where she remained for the majority of her time at BSS.

The Speed of Decay

This was the first set I took with my newly repaired Pentax A3000 35mm camera that I have had since 1986. I had forgotten how grainy 400 speed film could be but the grain seems to have lent an edgy feel to this set.

The Grass is Greener

The dorms at Belchertown State School are large, imposing brick buildings that look like crosses from the sky. Inside, each floor has two large, open rooms with extremely high ceilings where wooden beds were once stacked side by side with upwards of 60 children. In the late 1970's, after the Ricci court case was in full swing, staff finally began to make efforts to make the dorms more comfortable for the children who lived within the walls. Designs were painted on the floors and walls, toys mixed into the molding piles of plaster on the floor speak to the color and joy that were introduced for the first time at BSS.

The Foggy Dew

A view of the Belchertown State School campus shrouded in fog is the memory that will always be the clearest to me. Somehow seeing it darkened by the grayness of the weather echoes the general feel of the buildings. In the days to come when Belchertown finally starts to slowly disappear, this is how I will choose to remember the most haunting spot I have ever explored that holds perhaps the most damaging history.

Spirits at Play

Though I don't necessarily believe in ghosts, I do believe in the ability to feel the spirit of those who suffered in the places that I frequent. The playgrounds at Belchertown State School are such places charged with what I suppose you would call energy. It's difficult to discern, being that there is a baseball field behind the campus, but it frequently seems as if you can hear children yelling and playing on the swings and the rotted wooden merry-go-round. The back half of the campus where the playgrounds lie was also the spot of two separate deaths of patients who managed to escape the crowded wards unnoticed.

Class Dismissed

In this small town public school, most of the furniture was still left behind though there wasn't much else to be seen. It was quiet and stuffy inside but the building held a little bit of old elementary school charm.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What Do You See in the Clouds, Son?

Medfield State Hospital was built in 1896 in the small town of Harding, Massachusetts. It was one of the first hospitals to be built in the emerging cottage style, a radical departure from its predecessor, the Kirkbride. The hospital took its first patient weeks before construction was completed, such was the overcrowding at Worcester State. Medfield is unique in that the campus was used to inter Japanese POW's during WWII.

Imposing of Morals

The Medfield State Hospital chapel holds many childhood memories for Dr. Harry Gardiner whose father was superintendent of the hospital from 1946 to 1951. Harry remembers going to the chapel to watch films on the weekends, a tradition that lasted well into the 1960's when security guard Bruce McLeod's mother worked as a nurse in the violent ward.

Looking to Heaven

A second view of the chapel tower at Medfield State Hospital. The sky was a perfect backdrop that day even though the day was still somewhat cold for the time of year.

The Color of Advancement

Building 93, used as an infirmary for geriatric patients, is the most architecturally amazing building on the campus. It was added to the hospital in 1939 and is considered the most famous asylum building on Long Island. It is also the building closest to the Sound. This shot was taken from the roof of the Quad which is roughly in the center of the campus.


As Kings Park grew, buildings were being built outward and upward. Building 93 stands tall at 13 stories and dominates the sprawling KPPC campus. These two black and white photos were some of the earliest taken after I was given a Fuji Finepix S5200 Digital Point and Shoot for a Christmas Gift. I felt that, like Northampton's Old Main, that Building 93 was most ominous and breathtaking in black and white.


Kings Park Psychiatric Center in Long Island is one of the most impressive campuses I have ever had the opportunity to visit. It was built in 1885 and was once known as Kings County Asylum and was operated as a farm colony.

Hallway to Hell

The most common photograph taken at Grafton State Hospital is this hallway. The beautiful glass building blocks in the wall make for fantastic lighting that accents the green created by both the paint on the walls and the vegetation that has grown through the broken panes. Grafton was once a satellite of Worcester State Hospital and sits on the original WSH site. It served as a farm colony run by WSH until it became its own entity in the 1920's.

We Were In Hiding

A hallmark of Grafton State Hospital is its beautiful colors that come through so clearly in photographs. This bathroom where I hid quietly with a friend was an odd combination of turquoise and pink, just another oddity behind a wooden door in a decidedly green tinged hallways.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Art of Keeping Them Safe

The true beauty of McLean Hospital is that no expense was spared in the construction of the houses that dot the campus. This house for adolescents held some miraculous details in the stairways. Where normally there would be metal cages and fences to keep patients from falling, or worse jumping, to their deaths, these staircases were surrounded by beautiful woodwork that served the same purpose of keeping the patients safe while also making the function a form of beauty.

Shattered in More Ways Than One

At McLean Hospital the architecture of the windows was what attracted me most in one of the oldest and most ornate hospitals in Massachusetts. The hospital was built around the bones of an old Charles Bullfinch mansion in 1811. At the time that McLean was built Massachusetts did not even have a general hospital, let alone a hospital devoted to the treatment of the insane. So McLean was built and its beautiful country club style grounds eventually treated the likes of Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, James Taylor, and Susannah Kaysen.

The Snow Bed

For most explorers this is a familiar winter sight from Worcester State Hospital. A few years ago someone cut a hole in the ceiling to let in light for a photo. Little did that photographer know this would become one of the most popular snow shots, taken by so many others every year. Bedframes are really the only things left in the wards of Worcester State and therefore are the focus of many photos but this one is certainly one of the most interesting.

The Collapse of an Age

In the wards of Worcester State Hospital there is a point where multiple floors have collapsed in on themselves, taking the caged-in staircase with them as they tumbled down farther than the eye can see. The result was an eerie, darkened chasm that the camera is only able to pick up on a long exposure. The twisted cage and mutilated railing are a disturbing focal point amidst the rubble of the collapse.

Morgue Door and the Story of My Life

"No Trespassing State Property"- the story of my life, though a suggestion that is frequently ignored in my line of work. The morgue of Worcester State Hospital is now behind a construction fence, and most likely it has been demolished since this photo was taken. I never saw the inside, though I know those who have. It was a small morgue for such a large hospital and as I've been told, rather dull inside.

To Be Demolished

One of the architectural features that made Worcester State Hospital unique was the round day rooms attached to the wards. On one of my final trips to one of the most beautiful Kirkbride hospitals in Massachusetts, the red metal "To Be Demolished" signs behind the fence caught my eye.

In the Ward, Amongst the Bones

There was very little left inside the wards at Worcester State Hospital when I finally got the opportunity to see them. This folding chair, photographed by perhaps hundreds of other explorers, was one of the few sparks of color that spoke to me. In a sunlit ward room sat this chair that presumably a patient once sat in, or perhaps a staff member while monitoring a patient who could not be left alone. It's difficult to say really, what the purpose was but one can only imagine how many different individuals had sat in this chair that has now become just another pile of rubble.