Archive for May, 2006
I’ve mentioned Building 50 a lot in this blog but never really devoted an entry to it. It’s a beautiful Kirkbride Building that’s stood in Traverse City, Michigan for over 100 years.
“Traverse City State Hospital opened in 1885 as the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane. As its name implies, it was founded to provide care for the population of northern Michigan.
One of several Kirkbride buildings constructed in Michigan, Traverse City is the last in existence. Today the hospital’s Kirkbride sits within a large complex of buildings. Various cottages and other structures of different sizes surround it. This Kirkbride appears less ominous than others documented on this site. The off-white walls, large airy windows, and lack of overgrowth contribute to a much more wholesome aspect. Unfortunately, the building’s administration section was deemed a fire hazard and was destroyed in 1963. Its replacement, a strictly utilitarian structure typical of twentieth-century public architecture, spoils the beauty of this Kirkbride.
The good news is that the Traverse City community realizes that this building is still a treasure. Renovations are well under way, and the building will eventually become part of a mixed residential/commercial community within the larger city. “
I first became aware of Building 50 in 2000 when I saw a print from a book that was about to be published called Angels in the Architecture by Heidi Johnson at a shop on Front Street in Traverse City . Steve was with me and we immediately drove out 11th to see the building. I was totally blown away.
Detail of Window at Building 50 (I love the colored glass)
After that, I start researching on the Web and reading what I could find — and taking pictures because Heidi’s work had inspired me. I have incorporated shots of the building into various projects in iMovie on my Mac as well as had a couple printed and framed.
Since 2000, I have visited Building 50 every time I am in Traverse City . Presently the spaces are being renovated by the Minervini Group into a project called The Village. The project is inspired and makes dynamic use of a space that might have been destroyed or abandoned . Well done TC and Minervini Group!!
I got to meet Heidi Johnson in 2002, toured and photographed the building with her in 2003 and hope to visit with her this summer. Here I am in my official hard hat:
Links of Note:
Work begins on Building 50! http://www.record-eagle.com/2003/nov/16common.htm