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September 29, 2005 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-29

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Continued from page 5B
Forensic Psychiatry, where the state
sent individuals who committed its
most twisted crimes for psychiat-
ric evaluation. With the opening of
a new building for the Center for
Forensic Psychiatry just north of the
old hospital last year, however, the
complex has been completely aban-
A look inside
No trespassing signs, asbestos warn-
ings and security patrols from a near-
by state prison don't do much to deter
a variety of visitors from the remains
of YSH. Some bored kids I talked to at
5 a.m. one Saturday had no idea what
the building was and merely found it
a more convenient place to drink than
their parents' houses.
Other visitors might be best
described as urban explorers -
people who make a hobby out of
sightseeing in places they aren't
supposed to go, particularly aban-
doned structures. With its decades-
long economic collapse and a lot of
abandoned buildings after the loss
of more than half of its population,
Detroit is a national mecca for this
sort of thing. Sites such as detroit-
blog.blogspot.com post photos from
their authors' explorations. As urban
explorers often double as amateur
historians, detailed histories often
accompanied the posts.
Around here, Ypsilanti State Hos-
pital is perhaps a would-be urban
explorer's best bet. Visitors should
be cautious. Besides being illegal to
enter, the building is decaying and
downright dangerous in places. The
demolition crews had a good reason,

for instance, to spray-paint "keep
out" outside the auditorium - its
ceiling is coming down in chunks.
Anyone hoping to enter the morgue
or the room where lobotomies were
performed will be disappointed; that
building was demolished in 2001.
But the main ward structure, which
housed thousands at its peak, stands
for now. Though most equipment
and furniture have been removed,
some items were just left behind to
Those who are unimpressed by
rusted bedframes and broken glass
and who have less regard for their
personal safety can head down to
the basement. Underground tun-
nels connected all the buildings on
the hospital grounds, and there are
some long enough that shining a
Mag-Lite down them does nothing
to illuminate the end. On one wall,
someone's spray-painted a message:
"Death is here."
What's next
Soon the site of the old hospital
will return to economic productivity,
and few of the employees at the new
Toyota research facility are likely to
give much thought to the land's past
life. The patients abandoned by their
families and society, the numer-
ous suicides within the hospital, the
ward attendant who was working
an extra shift in 1987 to save up for
retirement when a patient murdered
him - these all have little impact on
the daily grind of designing sleeker
and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The
last tangible link to Ypsilanti State
Hospital and its patients will come
down with these buildings, and what
memories are left of life there will
fade away.

Clockwise from
Top Left: Only
four of Michigan's
original 28 mental
hospitals remain
open today;
Toyota will begin
construction on
the land as early
as next spring;
Albert Kahn, who
designed Angell
Hall and-lill Audi-
torium, was the
architect for the
Ypsilanti State
Hospital; Although
the building Is
abandoned and
dangerous, visi-
tors still tour the

16B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 29, 2005

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