INDY’S OLD PATHOLOGY BUILDING NOW MUSEUM OF MEDICAL HISTORY
Clocking a half century in 2019, the Indiana Medical History Museum rises from the grounds of the former Central State Hospital in Indianapolis. Originally known as the “Indiana Hospital for the Insane,” it was referred to as “Indiana Crazy House” in a circa 1880s broadside written as an expose by Civil War veteran Albert Thayer, a former patient.
Opened in 1848, the hospital treated patients diagnosed with dementia praecox, melancholia, hysteria and a host of other mental illnesses. The Pathological Department, whose purpose was to research causes and treatments of these diseases, opened in 1896 in the Old Pathology Building – the heart of the museum and oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation.
The hospital was in operation until the 1960s, when it was transformed into the museum, preserving the Pathological Department’s scientifically equipped interior. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Pathology Building has much to show visitors: teaching amphitheater; laboratories for bacteriology, clinical chemistry, histology and photography; library, reception room and records room; the autopsy room and anatomical museum which houses preserved specimens – mostly brains, organized by pathology.
In addition to guided tours of the Old Pathology Building, the museum offers special events, exhibits and programs on a range of topics, including the history of science and medicine, mental health care past and present, forensic science and others.
BUFFALO STATE ASYLUM
NOW A HOTEL
Two famous names are connected to what was once the 600-bed Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane: Henry Hobson (H.H.) Richardson, one of “The Recognized Trinity of American Architecture,” and Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture who famously designed New York City’s Central Park. Back in 1880, the Richardson Romanesque-style campus of buildings set amidst beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens was a means to improve medical care for mental health patients in a therapeutic safe haven.
Today, the 88-room, full-service Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center resides magnificently with a modern edge on the Richardson Olmsted Campus, a refuge of a different stripe in what is considered one of western New York’s most iconic architectural landmarks. It sits on 42 acres squarely within Buffalo’s museum district, having the surrounding parks and lakes; open-air cafés, historic pubs and locally-owned boutiques of Elmwood Village; and cultural assets, including the Buffalo History Museum and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, as its playground.
Guest rooms and suites within this National Historic Landmark hotel capitalize on the original footprint of the buildings. Each is an individually designed oasis offering a menu of amenities that may include 14-foot-tall windows, vaulted ceilings, local art, movable multi-use surfaces, indirect recessed LED lighting bordering the room, separate sitting areas and free-standing soaking tubs, among others.
Turning 50 years old in 2019 and housed inside a former “insane asylum,” the Indiana Medical History Museum is located on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital.
Photo: Visit Indy
When the Pathological Department was reborn as a museum in 1969, its scientifically equipped interior was left intact.
Photo: Visit Indy