In 1789 when Joseph Hodges & Cornelius Winney first settled on the land that would become Buffalo, the area was an untamed wilderness which threatened their survival in innumerable ways. Nearly a century later in 1870 that land had been made productive beyond their wildest dreams. An industrial boom and accompanying population explosion had transformed Buffalo from a natural wilderness to a human one. Wherever man congregates so too congregate his afflictions. Mental illness being among the cruelest. For the civic minded Victorians, no challenge existed which good will & good reason couldn’t solve. In response to the destitution & despair brought about by mental illness, they created institutions like Buffalo State Hospital.
Believing that beauty could be an antidote to an ugly world, these institutions were designed by prominent architects & placed in park like settings. The best of man & the best of nature brought together to sooth the mind. In the case of Buffalo State Hospital, a talented young architect named Henry Hobson Richardson was hired to design the physical structure. Famed landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted was hired to embellish the natural environs. The result? A masterpiece of civic architecture & civic landscape that would house some of societies most helpless for nearly one hundred & thirty years.
After a period of abandonment and neglect following its closure in 1997, it has now been transformed into a boutique hotel & educational facilities for the surrounding community. Favorite bits? That wonderfully rich brownstone! Also, those fairy tale towers!
More information on the Buffalo State Hospital here.
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