Willard Asylum for the Insane
In a nutshell Willard officially opened in 1869. By 1877 Willard, at 475 acres (1500 patients) was the largest asylum in the United States1 . In 1995 Willard Psychiatric Center closed its doors, but a portion of the campus is a New York State Department of Corrections rehabilitation facility for inmates.
Obviously, because of the New York State Department of Corrections facility Willard is usually off-limits to the public,
but once a year historical tours are permitted. Currently, there are no plans for any future tours.
Upcoming 2015 Public Tour of Willard Asylum for the Insane
The tours have been scheduled for Saturday, May 16th 2015.
- Times have been confirmed and are 9 am and 1 pm. , they are three-hour tours of the former Former Willard Psychiatric Center
- The cost of tour admission is $10 per person. Children under 10 years of age are free. Proceeds from the event will benefit a local Child Care Center, an accredited not-for-profit daycare center in the Jackson Building, which once housed Willard’s School of Nursing and is also on the tour.
- Parking is free.
- Visitors should gather at Camp Edgemere to purchase tickets. There will be unlimited space, but once the tours begin no more tickets will be sold.
- Some of the buildings that will be visited are: Elliot Hall, Brookside, Bleak House, Hadley Hall and the Mortuary. Visitors will also have a chance to visit Romulus Historical Society building on the grounds and the Willard Cemetery where 5,776 Willard patients were buried from 1870 to 2000.
- A chicken barbecue will also be available at Camp Edgemere.
- I can’t wait, I think it will be interesting!
In the meantime, I have started a Willard Pinterest Board and I thought I would pass along some of the sites and books I came across during my search.
I attended the 2014 Willard Tour! You can find pictures and posts from the day HERE, also make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more pics and updates!
Books about Willard
- The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic, by Darby Penney, Peter Stastny, and Lisa Rinzler
- The Inmates of Willard 1870 to 1900: A Genealogy Resource, by Linda S. Stuhler
- What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman Fictional story, but very good read!
- The Back Building by Julie Dewey, another Fictional work, but very good thought provoking story.
Links of interest
- An Inside Tour of ‘Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane’ – Ovid, NY
- The Willard Suitcase Exhibit Online
- Willard State Hospital @ NYasylum.com
- Willard Asylum Suitcases by Jon Crispin
- Historical photos from Willard.
- Willard Asylum on Destination Fear | Travel Channel
If you only check one of these links out make it Willard Asylum Suitcases by Jon Crispin the photography is beautiful, and the glimpse into the lives of Willard residents intriguing.
What do you think? Would you go check out an old asylum? I would! I think the history alone would be fascinating, and there has to be a few good photo opportunities in a big old building like the ones at Willard!