I have to admit I do go through a sort-of withdrawal around this time of year. The weather may be cooperating but the sales are not. Last week, when I so generously offered a way , I didn’t expect that there would only be one in a 50-mile radius. In my world, that equates to a prolonged drought.
I even went as far (literally) as to drive outside that radius to a listed estate sale in West Pawling, NY. I should have known I’d have no success when the shortest route to the sale was met with a “Bridge Out” sign. I persevered only to be grossly disappointed by the slim pickings at the end of a 1000ft. driveway.
No regrets though, if I were to succeed every time I hit a sale, I probably would be up to my ears in things I don’t need or can’t move. In the end, I have to rely on the old saying: “It’s not the kill, it’s the thrill of the chase.”
On this journey to nowhere (actually Wingdale, NY) I discovered another side of urban archeology - the abandoned Harlem Valley State Mental Facility. Built in 1924, it was self-sufficient, the size of a small town and lasted nearly 70 years before closing in early 1994. The brick monstrosity pictured above was the hospital’s steam heat generating plant.
Not unlike seashells, buttons, or bottle tops, there are people who collect visits to abandoned buildings across America and around the world, from “Battleship Island” off Nagasaki, Japan to Newtown’s own Fairfield Hills State Hospital. An Internet search will reveal many sites or blogs describing both casual and rash visits to one or more of these country and cityscape ghosts, and usually some history as well.
I was eventually rescued from my state of withdrawal by friends who invited me to an auction house where I cured my “condition” with a “dig in a jar.” I don’t normally collect matchbooks en masse but upon closer inspection there was something more valuable in the jar. Take a closer look at the actual treasure by visiting the blog. I am hoping that this weekend’s digs won’t cause me to end up at another asylum…for any reason.
Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story. You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog: www.videomartyr.blogspot.com