Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lakeland Psychiatric Hospital

The grounds of this psychiatric hospital have functioned as such since the late 1870's. At the time of its creation, the only place in Camden County for the mentally ill to go was a small wooden structure referred to as the "mad house". The rooms in this building were so deplorable they were more akin to a barn than a hospital. These conditions prompted Dorothea Dix, who had visited the "mad house" to eventually rally the state of New Jersey to erect it's first psychiatric hospital in Trenton.


With the population of Camden County rising, the board of chosen freeholders decided to erect their own institution adjacent to the almshouse, which despite its deplorable conditions was still in operation. in 1878, the main building was open at what was dubbed the Camden County Insane Asylum at Blackwood.


The hospital would continue to expand under its original name until 1925 when the Timber Creek was dammed, and the hospital was renamed the Camden County Insane Hospital at Lakeland. The new Camden County Sanatorium was built across the street at the same time.


The hospital saw a lot of physical change around this time. The old original building was supplemented around the 1930's when a pair of high rises were built. A long corridor connected one of the new high rises to the old hospital, and to one of the buildings on the street.  The sister building to the new high rise was added on to existing structures south of the main building.


Despite all the growth, the hospital population would eventually dwindle, forcing many of the buildings to close between 1998 and 2000.


Most of the abandoned structures were demolished in 2007, before I got the chance to visit. The sister building to the main structure would go on to be renovated into county offices, but one building still sat abandoned.


This building was being used as storage, from the time that the other remaining buildings were renovated into offices. However, it was demolished without warning in the first few days of 2014. Though some buildings from the hospital still remain, they bear little historical significance. We will continue to watch these structures, to see what time has in store for them.




1 comment:

  1. Hi!! I'm soon opening a nonprofit to help the people of Camden County, located in the Lakeland area...this is so amazing. I hope I can learn more

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