Abandoned Insane Asylums

Environmental Graffiti posted a list of the most impressive abandoned insane asylums and I couldn’t help but dwell into the history behind some of the truly impressive architecture of some of these buildings. George Thomas Hines’ name came up rather frequently, a man who specialized in asylum architecture and came to know it as a “distinct profession in itself.” It really strikes me as a functional paradox that not just Hines’ work ,but almost all asylums on the list, seem to have a type of mesmerizing, Gothic aesthetic that induces a sense of overwhelming fear. I think it’s beautiful. Some great photos.


~ by mythrus on February 11, 2010.

79 Responses to “Abandoned Insane Asylums”

  1. wow. The first picture, and the one with the stairs–like escher’s artwork–creepy, but strangely beautiful, as you say.

  2. Those are some really cool pictures, although it looks to be like the architect must have been pretty insane himself… the layout of the insides of those buildings is quite strange. Look at those stairs!

  3. Stunning! This is so extraordinary.

  4. Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for the great post!

  5. happen to drop by your page, wow these photographs are powerful and I agree with you some great photographs!

  6. You should see the ones that aren’t abandoned. They inspire greater fear.

  7. Nice picture!Thank you for sharing!

  8. I think it’s ironic that a lot of things start as one and split in two in the pictures; the stairs, the room…pretty cool.

    The pictures remind me of the flashes in the movie “Mirrors”. Very creepy, and haunting even when you’re not there. I can’t imagine what it looked like in its hay-day.

  9. These are so moving, thank you so much for the post.

  10. yae..very nice asylum but it seems to be terrific.good to see..bye bye

  11. Powerful images…the first and third ones are particularly moving.

  12. Personally the one with the dentists chair invokes more troubling thoughts than anything..just the thought of being a dentist at an insane asylum… Thank you for your comments.

  13. This is beautiful. Thank you.

  14. Fascinating. Captivating. Beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing!

  15. I am reminded very much of the Movie . ‘Hostel’ and ‘Saw’ (not sure which one in the series though.)

  16. Insane asylums? Aren’t you being overly dramatic? Those look like old clinics and hospitals. The last photo shows a dentist’s chair and x-ray machine. Have you been watching too many scary movies, perhaps?

    • The picture of the dentists chair was taken from the gallery of Mike McLean of pictures he took at Cane Hill Mental Asylum, Coulsdon, Surrey

      “…Cane Hill was a psychiatric hospital in Coulsdon, founded in 1880 and opened in 1883 and is a pavilion plan layout on a radial format. The buildings were designed by Charles Henry Howell FRIBA, Architect to the County of Surrey, Consultant Architect to the Commissioners in Lunacy. It formerly housed up to 2,000 patients, but with Care in the Community, modern medication and Sectioning laws, it was heavily underused by the time of its closure in 1991. Only the secure unit remained operational after this date. During its lengthy operation, a number of notable patients passed through the hospital, including the mother of Charlie Chaplin, and brothers of Michael Caine and David Bowie. The original cover of The Man Who Sold The World by Bowie features the administration block of the hospital. The hospital’s motto was Aversos Compono Animos, which translates to ‘I bring relief to troubled minds’.”
      Put that in your pipe and smoke it. 🙂

      • Ummm, the words “asylum” and “lunacy” feel a bit dated to me. Other than that, I’ll gladly put whatever you have in my pipe and smoke it.

        I’ve never been in a mental hospital myself, though in a different time I might have been confined to one. Judging from your pictures, though, I might have lived in some pretty sweet buildings.

  17. Great pictures, very well done!

  18. If you are in the New York City area, you should check out an abandoned asylum on Staten Island. A friend and I came across it and were thrilled with the chance to wander through the abandoned campus. It was eerie and beautiful, not unlike your photos.

  19. If you are in the New York City area, you should check out an abandoned asylum on Staten Island. A friend and I came across it and were thrilled with the chance to wander through the abandoned campus. It was eerie and beautiful, much like your photos.

  20. What a terrific photo of the stairs – magnificent. I also have to say that the comment about the unerving feel of Gothic horror seems all too true. The last very last thing someone disturbed would need.

  21. Fantastic pictures! The first three pictures remind me of the Batman comic “Arkham Asylum”. Can somebody please contact Christopher Nolan (director of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight)…these could be filming sets for the next Dark Knight movie.

  22. powerfull image

  23. etohhh talaga

  24. The first photo really left me thinking. I mean it has definitely a good architecture. Wonder what’s the “deeper” story of its beauty.

  25. Thank you so much.
    There is a weight to the imagery or the architecture that is very moving. The deliberate making of images of something that’s not there, the empty chair. The staircase design and hallways at such a tight angle are really very strange.

  26. Some great photos, make me want to visit this place and see with my own eyes. Definitely would not want to go there alone though, this place looks equally beautiful, overwhelming and creepy.

  27. Wonderful, a perfect setting for writer’s block.

  28. If you’re ever in Lancaster, UK, there’s a great ex-insane asylum on Ashton road that looks very similar to (but perhaps even more terrifying) than the one in your picture!

    It’s now an Islamic girls’ school called Jamea-Al-Kauthar (http://www.jamea.co.uk/) and their site makes it look quite pretty, but from the road/driveway it looks very gothic.

    Cheers for your pics,


  29. beautiful. Thank you.

  30. well done! excellent photos!

  31. If you like Mental Asylums then check out my photos from West Park.


  32. Incredible photos – perfect timing for the upcoming release of “Shutter Island”. These photos remind me of the abandoned prison in Ohio that was used in the movie “Shawshank Redemption”.

  33. Your photos are very unique adn though provoking. They make me imagine a visual rollback through time to those rooms and corridors being occupied by nurses and doctors and patients from long, long ago……

  34. […] (Tot ce am scris mi-a venit în cap după ce am văzut pozele, pe care le-am şi “împrumutat”, de pe acest blog.) […]

  35. pretty cool photograph there…esp the stair like the light composition 😀

  36. Pics look sad and lonely.

  37. Simply terrifying place! The photos are unbelievable, well done! Love the one with the corridors. Stunning colors.

  38. crazy

  39. May i link your post to my blog?

    I never expected asylums to be as creepily haunting.

    Now i know why they never managed to get out.


    Anyway, can i?

  40. Well, is the first pic for real? It just looks as if it came off a reident evil- video game. Great pics…

    • I found out last nite that the first image is a real picture although it was spiffed up by someone who enjoys ruining pictures with photoshop..tried finding the original but no luck. good eye though.

  41. so what is that (the last picture)? A dentist room?

  42. Are any of these photos from The Ladd School is Exeter RI? One of the hallway shots looks like it might be from one of those buildings.

  43. Captivating pictures – but how sad to allow such a lovely old building just rot away.

    • I actually learned that some of these abandoned asylums are being renovated and remodeled into office buildings and housing.

  44. Around 10 years ago, I used to take images in the old abandonded King Edward Hotel in Jackson, MS. THese remind me of these a lot. I even found a box a vitage photos ofthe place from back in its hey day. Unfortunaly, those images, and everything I own, where lost in a house fire a few years back.

    Thanks for printing posting these, it’s always amazing to see how places turn with age.

  45. Beautifully creepy.

  46. Each one of those pictures could have come from one of those scary/slasher/horror movies that Hollywood is always generating. Full of ghosts and creepy little creatures that crawl around on the floor. The pictures are incredibly beautiful but definitely creepy, as well.

    It haunts me, no pun intended, on how many souls were put into these buildings and misdiagnosed. Thanks for the post. 🙂

  47. Very nice pics. So mnay of these places are soon to be gone. If you click on my avatar, it’ll take you to my page. My flickr (sidebar)has some photos from some abandoned places I’ve been to.

  48. These are classic images. As a student nurse, I visited Friern Barnet in north London – a huge institution with endless corridors along which staff would cycle to get from one ward to another. As a trainee psychologist some years later, I had placements at the Royal Earlswood (two of the Queen Mother’s cousins were reputed to be there) and Darenth Park in Dartford. All of them were 2000+ bed hospitals, the last two for people with learning disabilities who mostly now live fulfilled lives in the community. These pictures brought back a few memories, including the noxious samells. They were dreadful places with protection at heart, architectural glory to the front, and covert abuse and neglect within.

  49. these photos are amazing. the first one looks like something out of a movie. I like the one with the staircases…that’s pretyy cool.


  50. Quite amazing how the people that are admitted aren’t even allowed to fully appreciate the beautiful buildings they inhabit. Fantastic photography and written extremely well!

  51. Outstanding photographs! Usually I’d expect a subject like this to be shot in B&W, but the color here really works. You have a great eye.

  52. beautiful,
    but scary ..

  53. WOW! This pictures are amazing! I love vintage photos like these. They are sort of haunting.

  54. You should check out trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com. It used to be known as “Weston” and in the early 60’s we were told as children that “if we messed around with drugs we’d end up in Weston” (the bogeyman of the day, in small town WV)

  55. this is go great. amazing.

  56. […] Abandoned Asylum II I got such an overwhelming response from the Asylums post that I decided to do a small follow up that focuses a little bit on some the really unique […]

  57. Sad, Enlightening, Emotional … you have a great eye at grasping the emotion in the photo and subject. Fabulous!

  58. wow! great photos… the asylums looked really insane, but i somehow have the longing to visit all of them… hmmm… 🙂

  59. Very cool. It would be awesome to get a chance to go and photograph these places.

  60. Lot of misery here :))

  61. Sophie Cumming is lying there is no such place in Staten Island

  62. Wow amazing. Scary stuff!

  63. […] 2010 Check out this stunning photography. It’s insane in more ways that […]

  64. These photos are awesome, really beautiful in their own strange and frightening way.
    The blog I wrote on insane asylums, specifically Taunton, got us into sooo much trouble with our relatives. They’d failed to actually read the post and only heard about it via a third party. My God, it started a war!

  65. What a tragedy . I can remember helping deliver the medications and walking the then busy halls and rooms of the ROyal Earlsweed Insane asylum IN Redhill 1958 to 1961 While My mother compounded the drugs most experimental and drugs for use in military uses Many Drugs then being tested are now commonplace on the prescription pads of psychiatrists . The begining of the era of Chemical imbalannce . the term INSANE can only be used to describe the inmates at the RE . Only one I remember was ever released back to the population only to return 2 weeks later sayign THEY ARE CRAZY OUT THERE ! living all his life JOhn would think that . ANd it was cruel to think otherwise now My Mother Deceases is probably one of the few remaining people who can recall any time of service in this historic Palace . THe Building was itself magnificent and typical of its era . NOw In Canada I can only hope the Covernment has done something to maintain the historic value of this and buildings of its kind . . TO allow it to disintegrarte to the mess I see above is sacrilidge . I can feel the Fear the mere presence of its Ghosts caould conjour in the minds of the uninformed .

    MY mother Sylvia Would be asddened had she seen these pictures . that this is now a Place of hopelessness when It was a Place of hopeful dreams .

  66. I worked at the Royal Earslwood briefly in 1981 as a trainee psychologist. The patients, as they were called, were not mentally unwell but people with learning disabilities although a great many had been admitted in the past for ‘feeble mindedness’ which included any moral transgressions. This meant that unmarried mothers and even tomboys could find themselves incarcerated for life, especially if the family was poor. This was not the case for two cousins of the Queen Mother who seem to have been severely disabled – possibly autistic – and for whom other services would not then have been available. Even in 1981, this was a bleak and desolate place that had as its entrance a pair of grand sweeping red carpeted staircases. That these led off to wards that stank of urine would not have been evident to visitors who never got past the front offices.

  67. HI Suzanne Your memories of the Later days of the institute were obviously far different than I remamber. I remember the last days of the Effects of Poor birthing and the end of Syphilus, and other diseases that ravaged the brain during gestation. Simce Early recorded history and made Famous by Henry the 8th as a result of his debauchery the royals have a well documented health Problem. THE final years of the skurge of such diseases . Saw the termination of these homes. What I call Imbiciles are probably far from your view. Laden by the memories of the courtyards full of Half man Half Beast YEs they existed, The shames and mistakes in genitics ( not experimental) During the victorian Period when the efforts to remove them from Circuses and the streets was undertaken.
    What changed MEDICINE all the sciences of Medicine from Pharmacy to obstetrics . began to make theses places obbsolete. Can we truly say the obsolessance was a bad thing Yes!
    The majesty of these buildings was one of the losses THose same red carpets leading to the halways I remember filled with obscure forms said to be human. I too remember the ingrained smell of urine and fecis probably worse then than in your era as patient problems appeared less severe . What we call today abnormal Never existed in the streets in 1961 . Despite this As you may well have exsperienced a certain Affection for inmates did exist amongst the staff. I was 11 to my late 14 when I knew the Royal Earlswood and Found a book on hupnosis I was alloed to heep it and I studdied this science all my life I ended up as a Chemical Engineer and Environmental Chemist Consultant I now live in Western Canada and we closed down our one aslyum as did the rest of the country . Then Usa Followed suit . This began the homeless problem this Continent has Finances dictated this practice of not careing . THe Earlswood and its sister buildings around the world Lost the purpose needed then and still today. It is by the Grace of God I am not like the inmates I remember . When told by Doctors I would probably awake from the Coma, I laid in for 62 days After a motorcycle accident. MY mother recalled her mind racing back to her concept of a human Vegitible . and for 12 years she was haaunted by that as I struggled with Amnesia I won my battle alone, While developing many environmentaly better Chemicals. and New ways to treat Wood . Perhaps Amnesia isn’t to be considdered a prerequisite to the Royal Earlswood. THat book Came from the table that was in the center of that grand stairway surrounded by the couches. I Never practiced but I Was able to use my knowledge to return to LIfe with my Prior memory in tact and my Future memory intact but Lost is 12 years. 12 years I still performed. BUt it may have been longer had it noit been for that book I read that came from the halls of the Royal Earlswood .


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    • Awesome, I actually forgot I added my site to that list. Glad you enjoyed the site. I try to keep it up but School has created an obvious conflict. Stay tuned for more posts. Thanks for sharing.

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