52:500c – Week 25 – The Old Kirk

If we were in the Netherlands “The Old Kirk” or more correctly “De Oude Kerk” would mean a church, but here in Traverse City, Michigan it’s for the old Traverse City State Hospital. Constructed as “Building 50” of the Northern Michigan Asylum in 1885 according to the infamous Kirkbride plan. This was the third mental hospital established in the state, and today is the last such structures in Michigan. But thankfully this one was saved through the efforts of many in the city and the state as a whole.



When I realized how close I would be (2.5 hours) from Traverse City from where I was attending the Photostock Event in Harbor Springs I decided to hit the road to not only check out Traverse City’s downtown but the old Kirkbride as well. Plus most of the spots around Photostock I had photographed to death anyways so a change of scenery was a lovely perk. It really wasn’t an ideal time of day for photography, the hot June sun hung high in the sky and even with spot metering and underexposing by one stop I was still losing my highlights like mad.



While most of the building is accessible and is a mixed residential/commercial space there are plenty of off-limits areas that still exist throughout the massive campus that was once a mental hospital. Sadly my goal of a big grand photo with the staff building proudly rising from the center was dashed in 1963 when it was demolished and replaced with a low rise mid-century ugly structure. But hey you have to count your blessings, at least a majority of the building still stands.




If you want to learn more check out the hospital’s page on Ancestry or Kirkbride Buildings and to see what’s going on there now, The Village at Traverse City.

Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 25 @ ASA-25
Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C
Meter: Pentax Spotmeter V
Scanner: Epson V700
Editor: Adobe Photoshop CC (2015)

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