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New York State Inebriate Asylum: America's First Institution for Alcoholics

Woodcut illustration 1882

Woodcut illustration 1882

Early History

The New York Inebriate Asylum was built in 1857. It was the first hospital in the country to specify in the rehabilitation of alcoholics. Seven years later, the hospital began its admittance of patients. It's message was not of judgment; it was their view that alcoholism was not a product of sin or religious shortcoming, instead it was viewed and treated as a mental condition.

By the time the 1880's arrived, the hospital was turned into a mental institution and it became known as the Binghamton State Hospital.

Translation (to the best of my knowledge): "Nor are the fountains of liquid absent, nor the clouds of the rainbow."

Translation (to the best of my knowledge): "Nor are the fountains of liquid absent, nor the clouds of the rainbow."

1900's

In the 1900's it continued to serve as a mental institution and expanded to many different buildings on the campus. It functioned until 1993 when it closed due to a lack of upkeep and maintenance.

Found in, "Our Whole Country: Or The Past and Present of the United States, Historical and Descriptive."

Found in, "Our Whole Country: Or The Past and Present of the United States, Historical and Descriptive."

Architecture

The layout was designed in Kirkbride Style, which was the standard blueprint for mental hospitals named after renowned psychiatrist, Thomas Story Kirkbride. Most asylums in the United States were designed the same way, including the Hudson River Hospital for the Insane in Poughkeepsie, New York. I have also written two lengthy articles about the HRH on this blog. It was designed by architect, Isaac G. Perry. It's architectural style is that of Gothic Revival, a common architectural style for hospitals.

"Ceremonies Etc., New York State Inebriate Asylum, Binghamton, New York." 1859

"Ceremonies Etc., New York State Inebriate Asylum, Binghamton, New York." 1859

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Hospital Today

Many of the campus's buildings have since been demolished, however the main building (the most notable structure) still stands to this day. SUNY Binghamton announced in 2015 that they would take on ownership of the building and use it as a college campus. No progress and updates have been made since 2015, and it is still awaiting productivity.

Photo taken by me

Photo taken by me

Photo taken by me

Photo taken by me

My Experience

My experience was nothing out of the ordinary, aside from the rude police officer who screamed at us for not seeing the rusted out stop sign hidden in the brush while driving in a parking lot (yeah... seriously). The grounds were pretty and the architecture was exactly how I imagined it to be. We didn't get too close to the fence because of the active hospital right across the parking lot, but what we saw was enough. There was a large bell, lots of trees, and there were other people walking the grounds (some with their dogs).

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Elijah DeVivo

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