FORMER PSYCHIACTRIC HOSPITAL NOW A CHIC HOTEL WITH PATIO OVERLOOKING ALBUQUERQUE
The locally-owned Hotel Parq Central in Albuquerque, NM, gives a nod to its past as a hospital and psychiatric facility with its Apothecary Lounge, a rooftop bar and patio serving Prohibition-era styled drinks and displaying a collection of vintage apothecary bottles.
Built in 1926, the hospital treated the employees of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company. In the 1980s, however, it became a psychiatric facility before closing, being gutted and then reemerging in 2010 – the repurposed, reimagined building now a luxury 74-room boutique hotel listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Still, the external architecture remains true to the building’s original design and decorations, with influences from both the railroad and medicine, recall its past. Look for old maps, Depression-era glass and robe hangars made of reclaimed railroad artifacts. Fifteen suites and three cottages, showing off custom-designed contemporary furniture, are scenically arrayed among four buildings set amidst landscaped gardens and pathways.
Featuring Italian-inspired architecture and an inviting interior whose sleek stone is warmed with hardwood floors and fireplace, the hotel offers several perks, including complimentary gourmet continental breakfast and a free shuttle service anywhere within three miles – and that includes downtown Albuquerque and its outstanding museums: the Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico; 516 Arts; and New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historic Society, among others.
HOSPITAL FOR ‘PERSONS OF INSANE, DISORDERED MINDS’ PART OF VIRGINIA LIVING HISTORY COMPLEX
The world’s largest living history museum has the distinction of having on its grounds the reconstructed “Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds,” later called the “Eastern Lunatic Asylum” and today Eastern State Hospital. The historic “Public Hospital of 1773” building is on the campus at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and was the first such building in North America devoted solely to the treatment of the mentally ill.
Now the entrance to the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg (the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum), the building is a portal to past treatments of mental illness that would be unheard of these days. According to history provided on Colonial Williamsburg’s website, “treatment consisted of restraint, strong drugs, plunge baths and other ‘shock’ water treatment, bleeding, and blistering salves.”
The original building burned in 1885, its cellar filled with the rubble so that a new building could be constructed in its place. In 1960, Colonial Williamsburg acquired the property and, in 1972, archaeologists made an important discovery: the foundations of the Public Hospital – still filled with the ashes and debris of the previous century’s fire. Visitors can tour the hospital with its two exhibition cells reflecting the 18th and 19th centuries and view exhibits detailing mental illness treatments of early American history.
The Public Hospital of 1773 offers up a graphic slice of history relating to mental illness in a vast complex that showcases 40-plus sites and trades, several historic taverns and two world-class art museums. It is an intriguing if somewhat unexpected attraction at Colonial Williamsburg.