Saturday, August 7, 2010

Romantic Ruins, Haunted Site or Birdwatching Paradise? You Decide - but no trespassing!

After poking around the Greenbelt area one recent weekend, I decided to finally visit the legendary Glenn Dale Hospital, located in Glenn Dale Maryland, not far from Greenbelt itself and close to the NASA complex. I alighted out expecting to see something interesting, but what I found floored me. This site is worthy for it's legendary lore in the growing art of "urban archeology", whereby the brave explorers, out of a mixture of curiosity and adrenaline rush, explore abandoned buildings, often trespassing. Being a responsible grown up now, I wasn't in for a tangle with the police and so far I've abstained from actually entering a building.

The grounds are not far from DC, you just have to navigate the uninspiring subdivisions that straddle this piece of land. This is not your average run of the mill urban hospital but rather an entire campus with some grand architecture, now chocked in vines and overgrowth and victimized by vandals.

The extensive damage done by vandals and the fact somebody needs to keep an eye on this site is the reason a park police sub-station is on the grounds. Patrol cars run a regular route through the grounds so I wouldn't considering walking around too much, stick to the perimeter. Plenty can be seen from the road, and it's worth it...

Halloween is apparently the night to go, and I can only say I'm glad I didn't grow up around here, because I would have gone in as a teen. The thing that makes this place so spooky is the network of underground tunnels which connect the various buildings. Apparently there's morgue (makes sense in hospital right?) and creepy stuff below ground. One story has it that it later housed the criminally insane and when the hospital closed and they were released, many returned to live out their lives in the various hospital buildings - a subterranean existence....waiting...

My favorite view has to be the one looking in from the north approach. There's a surprisingly tall water, with a perfect patina, consisting of a mixture of rusted metal and remaining institutional green paint. It's height and colors are unusual in such an rural setting and the proportions pleasing.

Next to the tower stand a large smokestack - long (incorrectly) rumored to be a crematorium. Here, there's a small pull off and ample room to park, stretch your legs and look in at this forbidden city.

One afternoon, I noticed a great variety of tough to see birds not normally spotted (by me anyway) that have found this site offers a great habitat. I saw groups of finches, orioles and what I think was a Scarlet Tanager, but could have been a Red Winged Blackbird in flight.

Directions and history follows.

Glenn Dale Hospital was a tuberculosis sanitarium in Glenn Dale, Maryland in the United States. It is a large facility, consisting of 23 buildings on 216 acres (0.87 km2), that was built in 1934 and closed in 1982 due to asbestos. Though it is now closed and will be eventuallydemolished, for decades it was an important public health institution near Washington, D.C. Park Police patrol the hospital grounds regularly.
The hospital grounds consist of the following buildings:
  1. Children's Nurses' Home
  2. Children's Hospital Building
  3. Residence "D" Dormitory
  4. Building "C" Nurses' Home
  5. Building "F" Duplex House
  6. Building "D" Doctor's House
  7. Building "G" Duplex House (Superintendent's Residence)
  8. Building "E" Doctor's House
  9. Adult Hospital Building
  10. Warehouse and Garage
  11. Heating Plant
  12. Sludge Bed Enclosure
  13. Sedimentation and Control Building
  14. Water Softener House
  15. Pump House
  16. Employee Building
  17. Laundry
  18. Residence "C" Dormitory
  19. Hot House
  20. Four Apartment Building No. 1
  21. Four Apartment Building No. 2
  22. Paint Shop
  23. Incinerator

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