Archive for March, 2015

St. Mary’s Manor, Niagara Gazette Interview




After I had posted my entry pertaining to the St. Mary’s Manor in Niagara Falls, NY, i was contacted by the Niagara Gazette to conduct an interview about our experience in the building. Here are the official pages from the paper! I hope everyone has enjoyed the posts and I am willing to accept suggestions for explores near you!

Planet Perish – Chellsea Ward

St. Mary’s Manor – Nursing Home

It began as an 119 bed nursing home in the heart of Niagara Falls, New York, and ended as an empty shell in 2004. 114,000 square feet of breathtaking architecture, forgotten beds and medical equipment, such an honor to have had the chance to explore before renovations. Not much information has been shed on the building, but here are some of the first looks of the inside of the building.

Six stories, with a view of Canada’s skyline, the falls and Niagara’s Casino. A massive brick eye-sore to the community, but a massive brick play ground for die-hard explorers like myself.

Upon our arrival, previously scouted the night before, we aimlessly explore this beauty’s never ending hallways and units for hours. Time is irrelevant when you’re busy having fun. It was about 30 degrees in New York at this time, therefore making it about 15 degrees in this building. A freezing group of explorers stumble across this hidden chapel in the building, all I hear from the end of the hallway is “Oh my god, this room!”, I was not disappointed.

The sunlight beamed through the circular windows at the top of the chapel, and lit up old bibles and church songs scattered across the floor.

Water damage from the roof inevitably led to black ice that took me out, waterfalls throughout the hallways and icicles hanging from anything it got ahold of. Paint falls off of the abandoned walls, these are some of my favorite things to see.

Tubs that once bathed the elderly still stand well preserved, the doors still open up and I believe they should not be destroyed.

Its crazy to see what is still left behind in these vacant walls. Being outside of this building sparks curiosity, being inside sparks wonder and excitement.

Excessive damage to the building eats away at the structure, heres to hoping this renovation does not take away from the history or the beauty.

Be grateful for your youth, seeing the extent of what the elderly have to go to makes you want to stay young forever. Props to them for being so strong in their later days.

Open floors with windows looking out to Canada’s skyline.

Yes, thats the Canadian Needle you see way back there. WE WERE SO CLOSE!

Literal “wheel-chair’s” litter the hallways while beds and desks reside where they were left, fully untouched.

You can never really get enough of staircases.

The elevator is sealed up for good, while everything falls apart around it.

Where the patients used to relax and look out into the distance, now sits to endure the weather.

Beautiful french doors separate the rooms, while curtains wait to be closed once more.

Now I know this post hasn’t really taught you anything about St. Mary’s, but I want to take a minute to now recognize something much bigger than this building. There is no way I would have even been in New York this weekend if it weren’t for a sponsor who picked us up off of the internet and gave us this opportunity. Huge thank you to Emily Christensen for recognizing our passion and supporting us through our art, and for putting us up in a hotel so we can explore something closer to her heart and home. Never have I been graced with so much hospitality from someone I didn’t know. Emily avidly supports artists to flourish and I am very blessed to have been a part of her plan. Thank you to everyone who was a part of this trip, and thank you to everyone who views this post and supports what we do on the daily. This is not a hobby, this is a lifestyle and our livelihood.

Last but not least, I do not recommend trying to enter this building. It is heavily sealed, and located on a semi-busy street. We happened upon this building with such luck that we only had one way in and out. Trespassers will be prosecuted if caught and inexperienced explorers will have a hard time getting in. Enter at your own risk.

Western State Lunatic Asylum

July 24th 1828, an evil place is born.

Around 1825, dramatic changes to Virginia roads and transportation occur making it easier to transport patients to this 22 building complex. In the early times, this resort like asylum was equipped with terraced gardens where it was believed patients could find peace to help aid their illnesses, but soon after.. this peaceful environment began to introduce straight jackets and wrist and ankle chains.

By 1905 Joseph DeJarnette, a well known eugenicist, became hospital director and introduced electroshock therapy and lobotomies. After the Eugenical Sterilization Act of 1924 was implemented, the “one drop” rule was in full effect until the 70′s, forcing all colored people including native americans to be sterilized, even criminalizing interracial marriages.

1970 marks the last year of the asylums operation after moving to their present location near Interstate 81, the sight then became the Staunton Correctional Center. The prison was then shut down in 2003 and in 2005 handed over to Staunton Industrial Authority to begin the construction of high-dollar condominiums called “The Villages at Staunton.”

At first when we learned we were heading to Virginia to see a staircase in an asylum, we all questioned why we would care… but boy were we blown away. In the heart of this vacant asylum lies a massive structure, a staircase that led to an eagles nest and awesome look-out of Staunton. Making our way down these long corridors only to see this beauty, it truly took us all by storm, then after realizing that this was the last staircase left, your heart sinks. All of the other buildings have been gutted for remodel, bye bye beautiful. The way the light shined upon the stairs during the sunrise, the colors projecting on the walls in this building, it weighed heavy on the soul. This was something I will never forget.

Off to the side of the staircase were rooms with big bay windows and fireplaces that reflected the Virginia sunrise off the bright blue walls. I guess these were the desired rooms to be in, seeing as how the rest have locked panels on them for patient contact.

In the hallways, stray bathtubs sit waiting to be destroyed. Weird to think that 50 or so years ago, patients were being supervised in these very tubs, making sure not to drown themselves to escape this prison they called a hospital.

Bathrooms left untouched with pipes stemming from the ground.

The hallways never end. Every which way you look leads to more hallways, and more patient rooms with even more padlocks and room numbers. The paint peels away from the walls, trying to get away from the horrors its seen.

The doors that would slam behind you come with complimentary windows so you could be monitored without the luxury of freedom. Each room identical in size and amenities without the exception of room numbers.

The architecture in this place is beyond amazing. The way the staircases curl around themselves, or the way the ceilings loom over you so high up, the never ending hallways and the pillars that hold the structure together. Its truly a work of art.

A long red carpet extends through the heart of the asylum, shockingly enough leading to the hallway of horrors. Each room on this floor locked off with fiberglass windows and heavy metal doors with padlocks. As if these were the star patients, perhaps the most ill.

The natural light illuminates the entire building although the light fixtures and chandeliers are still perfectly preserved, the breaker box was disconnected for renovations.

After seeing this building in this condition, and how eerily set up it is, I can only imagine how beautiful the condominiums will be.

Like previously stated, some of the complex had been renovated into a prison where you can still see the cages around the levels today. Razor wire and bulletproof glass surround the entire perimeter, making it very enticing for explorers, however there is no suitable entry way into the building.

What was once a beautiful and peaceful hospital, turned asylum, then prison now lies alone caged off from the world.

On the outer ends of the property, an old guard tower stands watch over the land and faces the hill with over 3000 unmarked patient graves. Amongst the uniform headstones are a few marked graves from the burials of doctors whom wanted to be buried with their patients. Not everyone was as evil as Dr. DeJarnette. All in all, this was one of the most unforgettable explores to date. As far as visiting goes, I say if you know how to get in, see it before its too late. These buildings will be under construction within the next few months, and I do know that the current condo residents do not appreciate outsiders. Be careful and enjoy.

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Ohio urban explorers documenting forgotten structures. Tell us about your local abandonment at
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