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Camelot Has Fallen ~ NYS Inebriate Asylum

History

The New York State Inebriate Asylum, which later became the Binghamton State Hospital, was the first institution designed and constructed to treat alcoholism as a mental disorder. Located in Binghamton, NY, its imposing Gothic Revival exterior was designed by New York architect Isaac G. Perry and though the first cornerstone was laid in 1858, construction was not completed until 1864. In 1993, the main building was closed due to safety concerns. The asylum appears on both the state and national lists of Historic Places, but it is currently in a state of disrepair and is one of the most endangered historic places in the nation, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997.

Through a series of events and connections obtained by my friend and shooting partner Louis Quattrini of Louis Q Photography we were granted a one-time only all access pass to this amazing landmark. To those curious out there that are interested in this site, I urge you to just enjoy the photos and do not attempt to enter or go near this site. It is heavily patrolled and video monitored 24 hours a day. This was special access granted by the state for special purposes and we are very grateful to the powers-that-be to allow us this wonderful opportunity.

Normally in my photo essays I will include past history and background information on a site. In this case circumstances however, which I am sure you can understand, have deterred me from taking that route. So, I have decided that instead of the usual running commentary, I will for the first time, just post the photos from the shoot and allow your imagination to take you into another world. At the end of the gallery I will post informative links about the architect and historical information. Enjoy the shots and please consider purchasing some prints to help further my work!

The Shoot

 


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About Isaac G. Perry ~ The Architect

Born in Bennington, Vermont, Perry was raised and educated in Keeseville, New York, where his parents relocated in 1829. Between 1832 and 1854 he completed an apprenticeship and entered into partnership with his father, Seneca Perry, a shipwright turned carpenter. By 1847, Seneca Perry and Son were advertising locally as carpenter-joiners who undertook masonry work. The Perrys were well known for their skills at constructing spiral staircases, and the younger Perry, according to one biographer, earned a local reputation as an architect before leaving Keeseville.

Isaac Perry’s architectural work in Keeseville is not well documented, but it is likely that the Emma Peale residence, called “Rembrandt Hall” (1851), a Gothic Revival-style Downingesque cottage that contains a spiral staircase by the Perrys, is an early design. By 1852, Perry relocated to New York to apprentice in the office of architect Thomas R. Jackson (1826-1901). Jackson, a native of England who migrated to the United States as a child, had risen to the position of head draftsman in the office of Richard Upjohn (1802-1872), one of New York’s most prominent designers. The nature of his work with Jackson and the projects in which he collaborated, are not known.

Perry is considered to have been the first state architect in New York. In 1883, governor Grover Cleveland appointed him to oversee construction activities at the state capitol. Although his official title was “Capitol Commissioner”, by the mid- to late 1880s Perry had oversight responsibility for all state government building programs and he was commonly referred to as the “State Architect”. He retired in 1899, and the state legislature officially created the Office of the State Architect that same year. The New York State Inebriate Asylum was the first major project designed and constructed by Perry, and marked the turning point in his architectural career. Perry’s inexperience is evident in Turner’s account of the building’s design. Perry later recalled that he penciled the plans with the assistance of his wife, Lucretia Gibson Perry. He also appears to have been assisted by Peter Bonnett Wight (1838-1925), the head draftsman in Jackson’s firm, but Wight’s role in the project is not well documented.

Perry’s other work can be seen on his wikipedia paget @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_G._Perry

 

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One Response to “Camelot Has Fallen ~ NYS Inebriate Asylum”

  1. Jeff Golden

    Great stuff, as usual Andy. History, and the way it changes as we ‘progress’, is interesting to me. There are so many secrets locked away out there that will disappear forever without someone taking the time to record it’s existence. Thanks for keeping us informed and educated.

    Reply

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