Insane Asylum Revisited

I admit that I was not thinking of storytelling when I went to the mental hospital back in 2010 to get photos. I was just curious and wondered what I’d find. I had my Canon EOS 30D and a 50mm f1.8 prime lens with me. The 50mm lens precluded any kind of wide-angle shot so some of these photos are a bit cropped.

Crazy Blue Car

Crazy Blue Car

That’s my car. Yes, it’s blue. It’s not inconspicuous so it didn’t surprise me when I returned from a short jaunt into the broken window building that a cop car was slowly passing by, probably noting down the license plate. When he saw me and my camera, he waved me on and said, “Be careful.”

The above is the only wide shot I have of the premises and I had to take it from a distance. This is one building of many and for some reason I must have really liked it because I have lots of photos of it. Perhaps it’s because I love the mechanical-looking thing right there in front of my car. The building is, I believe, the 1894 laundry building. My impression of the other buildings were of dormitories—long buildings with lots of windows, one for each room.

Mechanical Device

Mechanical Device---It's a bit high key, intentionally.

I love this thing. It has something to do with the laundry building. I don’t know what its function is…steam venting? clothes chute? ??? I slipped between the fence and the wall on the right and was able to look down into what I am calling the incinerator. It seems to be a place where they build fire in brick ovens.


Incinerator---entryway 01

When I said that the premises are not secured, I really mean they are not secured. The place is easily accessed right here through the incinerator…

Entrance to a Tunnell

Unsecured Entrance 02

…and here, through a basement door.

Broken Window on Door

Don't cut yourself as you squeeze through the window!

Please don’t ask what I was thinking when I took this photo at such a bizarre angle! I think I was trying to be cute and failed. Anyway, another way in. I would go back just to get a decent shot of this door.

My guess as to why the premises are not as secure as they should be is because of the on-sight police station. Cops were patrolling all over the place…I think they were keeping an eye on me to make sure I maintained my innocent-photographer profile.

Arched Window

Arched Window

What intrigued me the most about this window is it’s symbolic relationship to a church. I included the poles just to add a sense of the cross to this image. This is the 1886 power plant.

Insanity Please

Insanity Please

Looking through the arched windows and into the power plant you find appropriate graffiti. INSANITY, PLEASE.

Electric Avenue

Electric St

Around the corner is Electric St. More than any other image, this gives me the chills because I believe electric shock therapy was one way they treated the insane. I’m sure this is really connected to the power plant, but still…. (Actually, if you look at the sign, it doesn’t say St., it says Sh…Electric SHOCK??? I’m sticking with St.)

Textured Door

Textured Door---Just because I love weathered doors

A beautiful door.

Fencing Trashed

Trashed Fence

Discarded Chain Links

Discarded Chain Links

Behind the Power Plant is a pile of trash. I chose the photos that showed discarded fencing material…odd, since I think of fences as keeping people either in or out and this place definitely fits the description of keeping people in or out. I didn’t show smashed TV’s or broken toilets, though.

Oh, all right. Here’s the toilet.

Broken Toilet

Broken Toilet

There. I really do not like photos like this. Grime makes me uncomfortable. If I had to clean this area up, I would insist on a hazmat suit with huge gloves and head gear.

Stormy Tower

What's over the wall?

Sometimes I wonder what the inmates (yes, I will call them inmates) saw when they passed by this tower with the high wall. Did they long to leave? Or did they care? I don’t have the answer.

[Central State Hospital for the Insane opened in 1848 and closed in 1994, 146 years of serving Indiana’s mentally ill. And if you wonder what happened to the patients when it closed, well, I’m not quite sure. Some went home to their families, but not as many as you would think; some ended up rooming together; few ended up homeless. I am unable to find specifics and the research done is sketchy as to outcomes of the patients, whether that is due to privacy issues or due to not asking the questions to which I wanted answers!]


About Dezra Despain

Life is full of stories waiting to be revealed.

Posted on March 24, 2012, in Musings and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Very gritty photos. I like them. 🙂

  2. This is a very thought-provoking study and commentar, Dezra. I’m glad that you chose to revisit the results of your previous visit and to share with us not only what you were feeling at the time but also your newer insight into your past work and how you now would look at and photograph certain scenes differently. Your first shot really sets the mood for what follows. My favorite is the textured door, with Electric St right behind. A memorable post.

    • Thanks, Gary. If I were to go back, I would make sure I have a wide angle lens and get photos of all the buildings. They are all so different due to the different decades in which they were constructed. I appreciate your comment.

  3. They are all good but the textured door and the very last shot are my favorites. Well done.

  4. I admire your courage to get shots in abandoned areas. The shots speak volumes so just enough back story on your part made this an excellent post! Love the INSANITY, PLEASE and how you portrayed the arched window!!

    • Sometimes I think I’m rather a wimp. I tend to go shooting alone, which poses problems in abandoned areas. The fact that I actually went into one of the buildings was rather daring on my part but I couldn’t resist. I stayed near the door, though. Homeless people tend to live in these buildings I just found out. I think I’d be more scared coming upon them than they would be having me pop in unannounced!

  5. Amazing photos & great story 🙂

  6. …check this out BTW, I think you’ll like it – a bit of a way for you to come though 🙂

  7. Wonderful compositions. I also salute your courage. Not only a physically dangerous location , but also one filled with intense emotions. Love the textured door and the last shot is very dramatic with the combination of cloud, lighting and angle.

    • I must admit that I don’t put myself in physical jeopardy when I am alone at a place like this so I wasn’t in any danger. But you are right regarding the intense emotions. This place has a history here in Indiana, especially when they closed it down. There was a lot of fear and anger and confusion as to what would happen with the people being cared for and how it would impact Indianapolis.

      The textured door is one of my favorites, as is the tower (the last shot). Thank you for your comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: