Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year's Day in Hospital with Champagne

On New Years Day I met with a couple of friends to revisit an abandoned TB hospital in Maryland. Security is usually pretty tight here and a few of my friends have received tickets on previous expeditions. We met early in the morning and sauntered onto the grounds hoping that the guard would not be as vigilant early on a holiday as he usually seemed to be.
The building was freezing cold inside and it took  me a while to focus my attention on photographing rather than the increasing numbness in my poor little fingers. I was very thankful that I had hand warmers in each pocket and every so often would clutch them tightly willing my hands to absorb the heat. We tiptoed along corridors and through rooms, trying to be as quiet as possible, no mean feat when the floors are  littered with broken tiles and glass. The hospital has been closed since 1981 and since the few years ago that I was last here, the deterioration has accelerated. There were no artifacts or remnants to be seen anywhere, and the damage from scrappers and the elements was extensive, but there was no heavy sad aura hanging around the place which I've often felt while exploring abandoned asylums.
 Tuberculosis was often fatal and the hospital was built in the 1930's to deal with D.C's epidemic. Initially only children were treated here but in later years adults were also admitted. Sunlight was supposed to help the TB symptoms and many of the rooms led onto sun rooms or long balconies.There are rumors around that the hospital later became an insane asylum and that the empty buildings are heavily haunted. When antibiotics started playing a large part in the treatment of TB, the hospital slowly fell into decline. It was too expensive to renovate it for other uses and was closed in 1982. It was used briefly for military training, then the Maryland-National Capitol Park and Planning Commission purchased the site in 1994. The acreage with buildings on it must still be used as a care facility and the rest of the land used as parkland but no development has occurred, only a security presence hints at a continued interest in the site.
I was very happy to see this old Otis logo still on the elevator machinery. I had fallen in love with it years ago but my photos were poor and blurred from back then so I was pleased to be able to take better shots on this visit. The colors are gorgeous.
An old projector that once showed films on a screen down below in the auditorium..
I don't usually like basements but I was pleased with these photos from those dark, damp and dingy depths. There is a morgue in the basement but it's usually flooded, hiding a well entrance a few feet from the bottom of the stairs. Very dangerous. I went down there last time with someone who knew about this but I won't go down again.
Jenn trying to find a different lens in her bag.
We walked around a large part of the campus and then came across an area I'd not seen on my last visits, the laundry room.
The old iron presses were a wonderful sight and I was amazed at how well the fabric had lasted.
We took a couple of group shots but I had to block out a friend's head because he wanted to remain anonymous since he worked in the government. Fair enough, I had to respect that, it had been fun exploring with him again, it had been a while since our last trip. We ended our exploration without having bumped into any security guards but there were two large buildings we didn't manage to see, ones I'd never been in before, but I had to leave since I was due round my neighbors' house at 3pm for New Year drinks.
A great article on the hospital is here:
A poor deer skeleton we nearly stumbled over on the way out. Jenn guessed it had been hit by a vehicle and died in the field. Poor thing...
And so I managed to rush home, clean up and walk down to Tom and Laurie's house on time, meeting Kit and Mary walking up from their house. Tom and Laurie have the most amazing view across to the mountains. They're a little lower than me but I have woods very close to my house so I only manage to see the mountains in the winter time when I can peek through the bare branches. I loved Laurie's reindeer with its fur muff, very chic. We had a lovely afternoon drinking champagne and nibbling homemade hors d'oeuvres, ending with lots of hugs and a slow stroll back to Meadow House.

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