SCE Associate Dean Robert Kirkbride in Newsweek on Preserving and Adapting Kirkbride Buildings


Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, Morris Plains, New Jersey, prior to demolition in late 2015. Image: Newsweek

SCE Associate Dean Robert Kirkbride is featured in a recent Newsweek article about efforts to preserve Kirkbride Buildings around the country. The Kirkbride Plan for psychiatric hospitals was set forth by Philadelphia physician Thomas Kirkbride (an ancestor of Dean Kirkbride) in an 1854 publication. Kirkbride believed that patients would greatly benefit from access to airy, spacious rooms with ample daylight, as well the opportunity to participate in activities such as farming, bowling, swimming, and dancing. The pleasant environment and wholesome activities would, according to Thomas Kirkbride, help patients recover their mental health quickly. As Robert Kirkbride explained, “The beauty of the buildings was meant to be a part of the therapy.”

Dean Kirkbride became increasingly involved in efforts to highlight the potential of the remaining Kirkbride buildings around the United States last year, when he joined the fight to prevent the demolition of the disused Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris Plains, New Jersey, the largest known Kirkbride hospital. Kirkbride joined the board of the preservationist organization Preservationworks, the group leading the charge to protect Greystone. While their efforts were not ultimately able to save Greystone from demolition, the fight to save it sparked a larger movement to raise awareness of the 34 remaining Kirkbride buildings, and ways in which they could potentially be adapted and reused.

On Wednesday, March 30, Dean Kirkbride will give an illustrated talk at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn title, “Kirkbride Hospitals for the Insane: Then, Now and ?” Tickets and more information on this event can be found here.



Robert Kirkbride (third from right) with members of Preservationworks at the first national conference for Kirkbride Hospitals, Traverse City. Image: Preservationworks