Friday, September 21, 2012

Long Time, No See, Forest Haven

I've been hankering to see an old haunt for some time now. We'd been hearing on the grapevine that because of a lot of unwelcome attention security had been stepped up, but we decided to look in on our old friend for ourselves, so on Saturday morning Emily, Kelly and I strolled into the grounds of Forest Haven for a scout around. It's been well over a year, maybe longer since I was last here and I was shocked at how overgrown the site was. The buildings looked sadder standing as though with sagging shoulders and the trees had spurted upward and out,  reaching across the long uncut grass as though attempting to hide the skeletal remains of the once grand structures.
We'd heard rumors that a lot of the buildings had been emptied so decided to check out the main building first. A lot had gone, it was true, I noticed that the paperwork once scattered on the floor had gone and the rooms which had often held interesting little knickknacks or items that had been fun to photograph were now mostly empty.
There were a few items of broken furniture still remaining, and this wonderful retro chair claimed an empty room all for itself..
The lab was a shell of what it had used to be, shelves and counters once cluttered with interesting bottles, jars and other lab equipment were now mainly coated with broken items and thick dust, heavy piles of decay. But the old typewriter, as on my blog header, still held pride of place by a doorway.
The famous Forest Haven chair looked more beat up than I remembered, rain riddled dust streaking its arms. I might have sat in it once but not now.
We strolled around outside for a while, enjoying the vibrant colors of some nearby butterflies and the early fall leaves, then decided to take some photos using the desks that others had staged outside one of the buildings on a previous exploration. Here Emily's looking up instructions on how to use the timer on her camera and then her successful image.
We later went to a building that I'd only been in once before. I remembered specifically some old leather cases and tools on benches, a woodworking room. The building was even more dilapidated than the others, a heavy damp smell creeping along the floors. The leather bags appeared as though ready to disintegrate if I touched them and the tools had long disappeared. The old furniture out the back reminded us of the sad occupants whose miserable days spent here were now just dated articles on the internet and in old papers.
Our last building was one at the back of the premises where the old school bus is parked. There had been more piles of discarded rubbish added here so now the area resembled a tip, a depressing sight. A sudden flash of metallic sapphire glinted on an old plastic mattress as a lizard darted into hiding, refusing to reappear and shine amongst the trash.
Inside we walked in silence through the corridors past cells which had once held the more unstable patients. The old piano was a welcome sight and looked no different from my last visit.
What we called 'the hanging wall' had slipped a few more inches but was still managing to remain in one piece.
We peered into the courtyard and was amazed to see trees growing there. I'm sure on our last visit I'd only been aware of some weeds and small bushes growing in the cracks of the broken concrete.
The last stop of our tour was the chapel.
A few more panes of the jewel colored glass had been broken but for the most part the place was intact. We sat and rested for a while reflecting quietly on past trips here.
I've always been drawn to the windows of abandoned buildings and Forest Haven has a wonderful collection,  old eyes looking out onto the world while shielding their secrets from the outside.
I found this article, mentioning a couple of my friends who've also visited this asylum.  Click here.
I'd like to go back once the cooler weather settles in and the bugs have either perished or scooted off to warmer climes, a couple of days after our visit I started scratching furiously, the chiggers had got me again.

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