Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Tour 2015

Posted in Asylums, cemeterys, History, Mental Health by joncrispin on 25/03/2015

I am often asked about the annual tour of the Willard grounds, and I now have some tentative information about this year’s event.  It is a fundraiser for the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Children’s Center, which is on the grounds of the old asylum.  Here is a link to their Facebook page, where they will post details.  It is tentatively set for the 16th of May.  If you plan to attend, get there early as it is usually very crowded.

Additionally, the Willard Cemetery Memorial project is holding an event that same day in honor of Lawrence Mocha.  Here is a link to a Finger Lakes Times article that includes some details.

I hope to attend each event, and would be happy to see any of you who can make it.  Thanks to Mark for the tip about the Lawrence Mocha event.

The above picture is one I took in May of 1984 on my first visit to photograph inside Chapin House on the Willard grounds.

Very Good News

I just received word from the New York State Museum that I have permission to start shooting more suitcases.  I’ll call them next week to set up a schedule.  This is a huge relief to me and I would like to publicly thank them for allowing this to happen. / This photograph was taken on 22 May, 1984 on the very first day that I was allowed into Chapin House.  It was a wild day.  My dear friend Richard Pieper was with me and basically ran interference as I was assigned two security guards to follow me around.  He would stop in the middle of doorways and turn around to ask a question thus holding them up so I could be left on my own a bit.  I remember feeling that I might not have much more access than on this day, so I shot 35 mm black and white film with my Leica rangefinders (these two shots), 35mm slide film with my Nikons, and 120 color negative film with my Pentax 6×7.  Almost everything great that I got out of this building came from this day. / I was so thrilled last evening to get an email from Michael Labate who was director of facilities planning for OMH at the time I was trying to access the buildings.  He single-handedly got me access to Willard and I will be forever grateful. He had heard about the suitcase project and was so complimentary about my work.

These broom-like devices weighed a ton and were used by the patients as they walked the corridors.  As it was explained to me, the  wooden floors were in constant need of maintenance, and paraffin would be put on chamois cloths attached to the bottom of these polishers.  I only ever shot this scene in black and white, but it is so very evocative to me.

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