Thursday, September 3, 2020

HGB Ep. 350 - H.H. Richardson Complex

Moment in Oddity - Mammoth in Alaska

Massive shaking near the Kultieth River in southeast Alaska was picked up by an earthquake center in Alaska in 2015. The shaking lasted for eight minutes before the transmission stopped. The scientists knew from observing the data that they were receiving from this remote seismic station, that what was registering was not an earthquake. So what could it be? Thoughts of the movie The Thing probably came to mind for some of these scientists. Whatever had caused the shaking had also damaged the machine. There are some who wondered if it was possible that a prehistoric mammoth had caused the damage. Mammoths went extinct at least 4,000 years ago or so we've been told. But indigineous shamen claim that mammoths were being hunted as recently as 200 years ago. The scientists decided that it was probably just a bear that destroyed the machine based on teeth marks. Mammoths had lived here at one time and Alaska is so remote, the possibility that some survived is real. There are also reports that there is an Alaskan Bigfoot, which could be big enough and powerful enough to destroy equipment. No one knows definitively what destroyed the equipment and caused 8 minutes of shaking and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Jimmy Carter's UFO Report

In the month of September, on the 18th, in 1973, Jimmy Carter filed a UFO Report. The future president's sighting had actually happened in October of 1969, but he waited several years before officially filing the report with the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICA.) His story detailed how he was waiting outside a Lion’s Club Meeting in Leary, Georgia in the evening. He looked up at the sky and saw what he described as "the darndest thing I’ve ever seen." What makes this even more believable is that he was with a group of people who all saw the same thing. President Carter wrote that the UFO was "very bright [with] changing colors and about the size of the moon" and "the object hovered about 30 degrees above the horizon and moved in toward the earth and away before disappearing into the distance." Because of his own experience, Carter promised during the presidential campaign of 1976 that he would push for the release of government documents about UFOs if he were elected President. As we know now, that was just another presidential campaign promise not kept.

H.H. Richardson Complex (Suggested by: Karen Hubbard)

Hotel Henry, Urban Resort Conference Center sounds like a nice place to stay. Looks like a great place to host a wedding and who doesn't want a historic Gothic structure in their wedding photos? Perhaps hearing that this location is situated on a War of 1812 battlefield might give one pause. Or maybe the fact that this structure was once an asylum might be worrisome. Would the fact that Frederick Olmstead designed these grounds cause some hesitation before booking? After all, Olmstead was a landscape architect who was notorious in supernatural circles for designing haunted property. It is not surprising that the former H.H. Richardson Complex is reputed to be one of the most haunted sites in Buffalo and in the state of New York. Join us and our listener Karen Hubbard as we explore the history and haunts of the H.H. Richardson Complex!

The Buffalo State Asylum opened in 1880 on what had been 200 acres of farm land overlooking the Niagara River and Lake Erie. The corner stone was laid on September 18, 1872 and the account about it that appears in the book "The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada" states, "The corner-stone of the hospital was laid before a distinguished body of people. The account written at that time says 'the display made by the military and Masonic Order, including the Knights Templar, was the finest ever witnessed in this city, and had the weather proved propitious the effect would have been grand. Governor John T. Hoffman made the opening address, and an oration was delivered by James O. Putnam. After the oration Dr. James P. White, president of the Board of Managers, notified Christopher Fox, Grand Master of the Masons of the State of New York, to lay the corner-stone with the ancient forms of Masonry.'"

Construction had begun in 1870 and took twenty years to complete, but when it was finished, it was one of the most state-of-the-art asylums of its time. This was the first hospital for the insane to offer a training school for nurses. Like many of its counterparts, this institute was designed in the Kirkbride Plan and the grounds were specially designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted famously said, "The root of all my good work is an early respect for, regard and enjoyment of scenery… and extraordinary opportunities for cultivating susceptibility to the power of scenery." He had a lot to work with because there were several springs on the property and groves of oak and maple trees. The architect of the asylum was the man for whom it was named, H.H. Richardson. And as Karen Hubbard informed us, (Karen 1) that is what Richardson Romanesque was named for. The buildings were constructed from red sandstone and brick. A very unique feature was that the buildings had curved walls and there was a reason for this. In many asylums, patients would be placed out in hallways with overcrowding, but these curved walls prevented that from happening here.

The first buildings on the property were the administration buildings. There were five buildings and eleven wards and it wouldn't be until 1895 that the final five buildings would be completed and finish the original plan. That are these two glorious towers rising up out of the main building like some kind of Gothic cathedral. Additional buildings would be added. In 1897 would come the building for the worst cases of mental illness that housed the operating rooms, hydrotherapy equipment, electrical apparatuses and laboratory. An amusement hall, a male employee dormitory, a chapel and home for the superintendent were added in 1905. Ward 35 would come in 1909 and housed female tubercular patients. Ward 36 was built in 1913 and was a pavilion for contagious disease.

The first patients to arrive at the Buffalo asylum came from the Utica State Hospital. And as was the case with all asylums and despite the fact that this one was constructed to prevent the issues experienced at other asylums when overcrowding happened, this asylum became horribly overcrowded and old, outdated practices started to be used meaning people were abused and living conditions went downhill.

In the 1970s, despite restoration efforts, three buildings were demolished. The Richardson Center Corporation was formed by the state of New York in 2006 with the goal to rehabilitate the site. In 2008, stabilization efforts were made that were completed in 2012. During that time, a fire caused $200,000 in damage and no cause was ever found. In 2013, plans were made for the first Phase of the development and Hotel Henry would be born.

Hotel Henry is unique in that it claims to be an urban resort. Their website describes it this way, "Hotel Henry’s Urban Resort is distinctive from the type of 'resort' that most travelers expect. Instead, the surrounding city of Buffalo – its galleries and cultural institutions, architecture, nearby parks… are the treasures to be enjoyed. The Urban Resort is the design-rich city of Buffalo itself. Situated on 42 acres within the City of Buffalo’s museum district and cultural corridor, the Urban Resort Conference Center is surrounded by parks, lakes, museums and connected to the fun and vibrant Elmwood Village. Enjoy a vibrant urban streetscape interwoven with sprawling parkways, local food and shopping, an adjacent college campus, world-class museums and galleries, and nearby Delaware Park. Hotel Henry is centrally-located among Buffalo’s most eclectic and active areas. This is the urban resort experience." Architecture firm Deborah Berke Partners, along with Flynn Battaglia Architects and Goody Clancy, which is a preservation firm, partially restored the former asylum. The hotel offers 88 rooms and many upgrades, but some original features are still here. There is a winged staircase, original moldings and fireplaces and 12-foot hallways.

We found this article in the Buffalo Biz Journals dated to 2016 talking about the ghost stories connected to building and despite the fact that a haunted reputation is usually a selling point for many hotels, Henry Hotel developer Dennis Murphy said, "I suppose from the outside looking in, those types of stories could be really interesting. But as someone who is making a big financial investment in this project, they are not helpful." And despite the fact that Murphy claimed that he never experienced any activity and that a paranormal investigator interviewed for the article made the same claim, there are plenty of people who report having paranormal experiences here. One of those people is our listener Karen Hubbard. (EVPs -2)

Paranormal investigator and Buffalo ghost walks guide Mason Winfield has an interesting theory we had not heard before. He has said basically that it's not surprising that the mentally ill have "a greater tendency" for hauntings because "they have higher functions of the unconscious mind." A young woman and her friends visited the Buffalo Asylum when it was abandoned and she said, "It looked like someone snapped their fingers and everyone disappeared.' There was still medical equipment and hospital beds inside. She said there were no ghosts, but she definitely got some intense feelings. A floor partially caved and the group started running. The woman said, "When we saw a sign for the morgue I said, ‘Screw this! I need to get out!’" She had felt overwhelmed by fear. "All I can remember were my emotions. I wanted to die."

The idea that a former asylum would not be haunted is ludicrous based on our experiences. There is just far too much energy left over, regardless of what renovations have been made. Maybe one day Hotel Henry will embrace the past and embrace its spirits. But as is the case with all of our episodes as to whether this location is haunted, that is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada, By Henry Mills Hurd, William Francis Drewry, Richard Dewey, Charles Winfield Pilgrim, George Adler Blumer, American Medico-Psychological Association. Committee on a History of the Institutional Care of the Insane, Thomas Joseph Workmann Burgess, Volume 3, The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1916, Pages 179 – 184.

No comments:

Post a Comment