I have been procrastinating writing my follow-up update on Seattle. Some experiences are difficult to capture adequately in words. Expressing my spiritual journey is among them. That will need to wait for a later date.
In the meantime, I went to an abandoned mental hospital. I suppose you could call that experience spiritual? Between Halloween approaching and my love of abandoned buildings I was eager to take this ninety-minute road trip up I-5.
The facility was built in the early 1900’s, and in a testament to they quality with which they were built, most of the buildings are still standing. The hospital itself is still in use but has been re-purposed by Washington state, so that building was unavailable for exploration. The state, satisfying all of the ghost hunters, designated the rest of the grounds as a state park leaving all the remaining structures open to the public.
The facility, like many of its time, was designed to be it’s own self-sustaining community, complete with farm land, crops, livestock, and utilities. Patients’ hands placed all of the bricks and poured the cement. Later, patients tended the crops and animals that nourished them. Most of the farming structures still stand with gaping holes for windows and doors.
With this context, I expected the energy of these spaces to feel heavy. Heavy with the toil of people soughed off by their family through no fault of their own. Heavy with the suffering that comes from state bureaucrats cutting funding and over-crowding as was common in institutions of this kind in the 60’s and 70’s.
But the land, the space was light. I can’t speak for the hospital itself, which was the site of many shock treatments and lobotomies, but the farm buildings seemed peaceful. Perhaps engaging with nature was a welcome retreat for the patients.
Shooting these places was an adventure. That these buildings are available for exploration in spite of the precarious structural integrity of a few of them is emblematic of the libertarian streak I’ve noticed out here. The West Coast refuses to hand-hold. Surprisingly, I felt at ease in these spaces regardless of how creepy the pictures are.