Monday, January 28, 2013

Memories From the Past: The Arkansas Health Center

Memories from the Past:
The Arkansas Health Center
Maybe it was my past experience in patient care or just my undying curiosity to explore living history, but ever since I learned of the Arkansas Health Center, and its rich history, I just had to do a photo project there.  I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer, who works at the AHC, and was willing to make special arrangements to escort me around the historical grounds.
There has been a state mental hospital in Arkansas, in some form, since 1873.  It moved locations several times over the decades, expanded, and went through multiple name changes.  In 1929, the state’s existing hospital was over-crowded to the point that the state authorized building an additional facility.  The state chose a tract of land off of Highway 67, near Benton, and began building.  This is the modern site of the Arkansas Health Center. 

Buildings were first occupied in 1936.  Since then, some buildings were demolished and some new buildings were added.  Today, most of these original buildings are empty and just sit with memories of once was.  Many are condemned and have been unoccupied for close to 30 years.  During my tour, Jennifer sadly mentioned that plans were being made to demolish more of these historic buildings.

The next three pictures are from the old Auditorium.

General living area pictures...

The darkness, with only the the light from the window coming through, gives you feelings from a time long ago.

The chapel

The Gibson Building, called building 70 by the staff.  This was built in 1951.  Scenes from the movie "Sling Blade" were shot inside this building.

The current laundry room inside Building 70 is in the room that used to be the morgue.  The antique wooden doors are still in tact.

The offsite barn holds many more historic relics.

I want to give thanks to Jennifer and David for allowing me access.  You both were very welcoming.  I appreciate your taking the time to let me photograph such a beautiful and historic place.

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