Free Lecture Presented by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society

TODAY: The Many Phantoms of the Kirkbride Hospitals for the Insane

Updated 49 weeks ago
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Mourning
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Mourning
Credit: Courtesy of the collections of the North Jersey History Center, the Morristown and Morris Township Library

"How many ghosts can haunt a building at once? When the building at question is one of the 34 remaining Kirkbride Hospitals for the Insane, which share the burden of a troubled and tragic past, the answer is not simple."

"There are many ghosts, of various sorts. Despite the noble intent of their creators and generosity of their designs, the asylums often devolved into horrifying dystopias, and given their stigmatizing histories, they are easy targets for demolition. Yet there is a passionate and growing network of preservationists, urban explorers and paranormalists committed to preserving Kirkbride Hospitals.

"In this talk, Dr. Robert Kirkbride, Dean of Parsons School of Constructed Environments, will underscore the importance of decoupling the physical asylums from their phantoms to promote adaptive reuse rather than repressive and wasteful erasure. He will also offer examples that illustrate how to resuscitate these remarkable structures, which offer tangible lessons of architectural know-how, sustainability and embodied energy." 

Lecture is presented by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society at the New York Public Library Branch on Roosevelt Island, on Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 6:30 p.m.

The event is FREE and open to the public. It is the first in the Society’s annual series of spring lectures, which is supported by funds provided by Amalgamated Bank, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s Public Purpose Fund and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, with funding from the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development.

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society promotes awareness of the Island’s unique story and pursues preservation of its landmarks and artifacts. For more information, please visit

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