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Mayview State Hospital



Opened under the name Marshalsea in 1893, Mayview State Hospital could originally accommodate about 340 patients. Forty years later the number had ballooned to 4,200. Mayview State Hospital's closure began in 2007. Patients were discharged to the community or nearby Torrence State Hospital. The closure was slowed when two former patients from the forensic unit died within the same week; one was struck by a train in Braddock and the other jumped or fell from a bridge. By 2008 the remaining patients from the forensic unit had been transferred and the campus was completely abandoned.

I photographed Mayview State Hospital two months after it was sold for $505,000 by the state to the developer who would ultimately raze the buildings in 2012-2013. The transfer of ownership had not yet occurred although the deal had been finalized, and I was escorted by a maintenance worker who had been there for many years and was now in the final days of his job. Though I wasn't allowed to visit some of the more structurally unstable buildings, I did get to see the forensic units, the greenhouses, the pool, the cantina, medical units, and several of the wards. During our time together the maintenance worker marveled several times about how quiet and empty the campus was and shared stories when it had been active. His tone shifted from resignation to anger over the closure, from happiness at rediscovering and sharing a fond memories to sadness at the loss of the community. Though I understood what he was going through in an intellectual sense, I was aware that I'd never really be able to comprehend the decades of experiences he'd had, the years of friendships and frustrations that he was seeing the ghosts of. It reminded me in many ways of someone processing the death of a loved one. As I photographed that day, I did my best just to be a good listener and to try to see the echoes of the things he told me about. They were all around us.
Photographs and unattributed text by Matthew Christopher. For more images click the thumbnails below.
some sort of anomaly