sábado, 31 de marzo de 2012

Silent Hill inspired locations


viernes, 23 de marzo de 2012

Rathen State Hospital

Established in 1848, this psychiatric hospital was the first asylum constructed following the Kirkbride plan. This linear building plan, devised by Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, would become a popular form of asylum construction for another 50 years until they were criticized for their outdated design and high maintenance costs. The hospital was founded by Dorthea Dix, one of the most important pioneers in humane treatment of the mentally ill in the United States. She was known to have looked upon this hospital as her "firstborn child" - the funding and construction of an institution based on the Kirkbride plan represented a huge step forward in compassionate psychiatric care. 

Her appeals to state legislatures about the horrendous conditions for the mentally ill inside jails and almshouses were the driving force behind the decision to construct the asylum. Dix eventually spent the last years of her life in a private room here, until she died in 1887.

The Kirkbride building was constructed in Tuscan style, with rough local stone making up much of the exterior facade. The central administration area was quite impressive, resembling a temple with Doric columns adorning a large portico, replete with a domed cupola. This imposing edifice suggested the stability of the state institution. The central portion of the building was damaged in a fire in later years, and replaced with a structure designed in the architectural style of the time.

It was originally designed to house 250 patients; a small enough number for the hospital superintendent and his wife to visit every patient daily. The floor plan was elegantly simple - two wings flanked each side of a central administration area, and stepping back to create a shallow V. Disturbed patients were placed at the wing tips, and a patient could then have a goal to progress closer to the central area, toward the superintendent, the chapel, and metaphorically, God. 

Overcrowding soon led to the multiple additions of wings over the years, and attic space was converted to a third floor for dormitory space. The hospital was situated on a hill overlooking landscaped grounds, where patients could take strolls or work the land and get plenty of fresh air, an important part of mid-19th century psychiatric treatment. In 1893, the word "asylum" was dropped from the hospital's official name.

In 1907, a new medical director had improved patient care at the hospital by abolishing the use of mechanical restraints and instituting daily staff meetings to discuss hospital affairs. He also began to encourage the theory of infection-based psychological disorders - that all human disease was caused by infection, including insanity (developmental disorders, insanity, alcoholism, and other kinds of illnesses were often considered to be "diseases" during these years). The rampant tooth decay at the hospital spurred the doctor to perform many dental procedures in hopes to cure the patient by removing the source of the illness. Tooth extractions soared in the 1920s to an average of about 10 per admission, giving the hospital the nickname "Mecca of exodontias." If the patient was not cured after one or more tooth extractions, the doctor sought sources of infection in the tonsils and sinuses, performing a tonsillectomy if needed. Other organs were targeted if still no results surfaced; colons, spleens, stomachs, gall bladders, cervices, ovaries and testicles were continuously suspected and surgically removed. An reported 85% cure rate astonished hospital superintendents and the entire medical field, but these numbers were not accurate by any means.

An investigation was launched in 1925 after some concerns were voiced about the doctor's work - over 2,186 surgical operations had been performed under his direction by one estimate. After finding wards full of patients without teeth (and as a result couldn't speak or eat well), along with chaotic record keeping, a public hearing was held. The doctor fell ill during the hearing, and after being excused and having several of his own teeth removed, he pronounced himself cured and opened his own private hospital until he died in 1933. The case never reopened, and death rate of his many unnecessary operations are estimated to be near 45%.

Along with other common treatments for mental illness, such as hydrotherapy, Metrazol, and occupational therapy, the hospital still focused on treating infection until prefrontal lobotomy and electroconvulsive therapy procedures took hold in the 1940s. Overcrowding, underfunding, and lack of public support became a major issue as time wore on, much like other state-funded psychiatric hospitals across the country. A peak population of 4,237 patients were hospitalized in 1954, a far cry from its actual capacity, and services were reduced to a basic custodial care. Tranquilizing drugs were the godsend that finally allowed more discharges than admissions; patient population was nearly cut in half in just 14 years.
The number of beds has since been reduced to around 370. The facility still functions to this day at a fraction of the peak population in the 1950s; as a result, some parts of the Kirkbride building were abandoned since the mid-1970s, and other buildings have been vacated in more recent years.

words and images by Opacity

miércoles, 21 de marzo de 2012

The Three Mothers

The idea of "Three Mothers" comes from "Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow", a section of Thomas de Quincey's Suspiria de Profundis. The piece asserts that just as there are three Fates and Graces, there are also three Sorrows. They include Mater Lacrymarum (Our Lady of Tears), Mater Suspiriorum (Our Lady of Sighs), and Mater Tenebrarum (Our Lady of Darkness). The attribute of each woman (tears, sighs, shadows/darkness) is a direct translation of her name from Latin. (Mater being the Latin word for "mother".)
Suspiria clearly derives its title from the woman delineated in de Quincey's work. However, Inferno's title does not reference Mater Tenebrarum. Thus, Argento's 1982 film Tenebrae is sometimes mistaken as the second installment in the trilogy.

The story of the Three Mothers begins at the dawn of the 11th century, when three sisters created the pernicious art of witchcraft on the coast of the Black Sea. In the years that followed, they wandered the world and amassed great personal wealth and power, leaving only death in their wake.
In the late 19th century the women commissioned E. Varelli, an Italian architect based in London, to design and construct three stately buildings. From these enchanted, bastion-like homes the Three Mothers "rule the world". According to Varelli's memoirs, entitled The Three Mothers by an anonymous colleague, the architect learned too late of the women's evil nature. (At least six copies of the book are known to have existed. Four may have been destroyed at the end of Inferno.) The residences he designed will become so corrupted that eventually the land they were built on will become pestilential. An unpleasant, bittersweet smell of evil already pervades the area surrounding Mater Tenebrarum's home.

Both Mater Suspiriorum and Tenebrarum have claimed that the Mothers are Death personified.

Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs, is the oldest of the Three Mothers. Her given name is Helena Markos. She was also known as The Black Queen. The actress who portrayed Markos in Suspiria was uncredited. According to Jessica Harper, "the witch was a ninety-year-old ex-hooker Dario had found on the streets of Rome."

Markos, a Greek émigré, was exiled from many European countries and had written several books on a variety of arcane subjects. In 1895 she founded the Tanz Akademie ("Dance Academy" in German), a school for dance and the occult sciences, in the Black Forest outside Freiburg, Germany. The locals feared her, having intuited that she was a witch. As Markos' wealth grew so did suspicions about her true nature. To avert this unwanted scrutiny, she faked her own death in a fire in 1905. Control of the academy, which became solely a ballet school, was said to have gone to Markos' prize pupil. In reality, this was Markos herself. (The Akademie bears a plaque stating that Desiderius Erasmus once lived there.)
In Suspiria Markos is the Directress whose presence is concealed by her coven, headed by Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett). A young American, Suzy Banyon (Jessica Harper), discovers the hidden chambers beneath the school after several pupils are killed by Markos' proxies.

In The Mother of Tears it is revealed that before the events of Suspiria Elisa Mandy (Daria Nicolodi), a white witch, sought to challenge Markos' evil might. The two battled in Freiburg, and Markos slew both Elisa and her husband. However, Elisa was able to weaken Suspiriorum into the hag-like state she appeared in Suspiria. According to Father Johannes (Udo Kier) in the third film, the battle left Suspiriorum "a shell of her former self". Elisa's daughter Sarah would later defeat Mater Lacrimarum in Rome.

Mater Lachrimarum, the Mother of Tears, is the most beautiful and powerful of the Three Mothers. Like Tenebrarum, her true name is unknown. Inferno suggest that her home in Rome, Italy may be located near No. 49 Via Dei Bagni - the Abertny Foundation's Biblioteca Filosofica - when Sara (Eleonora Giorgi) notices a strange smell in the air. In The Mother of Tears Lachrimarum's home is revealed to be the Palazzo Varelli.
In Inferno Lacrimarum attempted to spellbind Mark Elliot during a music lecture in Rome. According to Argento, Ania Pieroni did not return to reprise her role as Lacrimarum in The Mother of Tears because "she now has five kids!"
Lacrimarum is portrayed by Israeli actress Moran Atias in The Mother of Tears. The witch has been hibernating for centuries in Rome, and is awakened when Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento) opens the urn in which her most powerful relic, a red tunic, is stored. As her minions wreak havoc on the city above, Lacrimarum hides below ground in the catacombs of her Palazzo, regaining her strength.

Mater Lacrimarum also makes a notable appearance in Kim Newman's novel Dracula Cha Cha (aka Judgement of Tears)

Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness/Shadows, is the youngest and most cruel of the Three Mothers. Her true name is not given; her home is located in New York City and was christened in 1910. The house's number is 49 and bears a plaque that states that Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff once resided there.
In Inferno the character is portrayed by Veronica Lazar. She masquerades as Professor Arnold's nurse for much of the film. At the climax, Mark Elliot (Leigh McCloskey) descends into the bowels of her home to confront her. He learns that Arnold is in fact the architect Varelli, and essentially Tenebrarum's slave. Tenebrarum's bloodlust would ultimately be her own undoing, as one of her victims, a maid, was inadvertently responsible for the house catching fire in the midst of her death throes.

Words and images via Werewolf

Mt. Sinai Moloch

Can't stop listening to this....

by The Ruins of Beverast

martes, 20 de marzo de 2012

Foster home and Orphanage 1855

The Philadelphia Jewish Foster Home was founded in 1855 to "form an institution wherein the orphans or the children of indigent Israelites may be rescued from the evils of ignorance and vice, comfortably provided for, instructed in moral and religious duties and thus prepared to become useful members of society." The original home was located just North of downtown Philadelphia. Funded by Jewish families of Philadelphia, the home had become a model for both Jewish and non-Jewish foster care across the United States. 

The successful institution soon required a much needed expansion by 1880. The Fraley Smith property located on Church Lane near Chew Avenue in the Germantown section of Philadelphia proved to be suitable, with a large mansion, stables, gardens and fresh spring well water on four and a half acres of land. It was purchased for $35,000 and additions were made for institutional needs (large kitchen, additional dormitory wing etc). A life-sized statue of a caribou was located in the front, but was later moved to a different facility (it was confirmed by an alumni finding the initials J.F.S. inscribed on its hind legs). The motto of the home read:
In deeds of love unselfish great,
Men must their faith attest;
To God this Home we dedicate,
Through love it shall be blessed.
The home opened in 1881 with 35 children, and eventually had the capacity for one hundred and twenty-five residents. Children from ages six to ten were admitted and cared for until they turned sixteen. The asylum also employed a staff of administrators, workers, and teachers. Orthodox religion was taught at the home, and children attended public school for their regular studies. Other activities such as music, sports, and industrial arts were taught and encouraged. The Teller Synagogue was constructed in 1900, and provided a sanctuary for all to practice Judaism.

In 1929, the Jewish Foster Home and Orphan Asylum merged with the Hebrew Orphans Home of Philadelphia, treating children from infants up to the age of eighteen. The institution was thus renamed the Foster Home for Hebrew Orphans until it closed in the early 1950s.
After the closure of the home, the buildings and grounds were used as a catholic school called the Ancilla Domini Academy in 1953, established by the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Teller Synagogue was converted into a student library. The academy was closed around 1975, leaving the campus abandoned and subject to multiple fires, the most devastating occurring in 1999. LaSalle University purchased the property in 2007 and sadly, subsequently demolished all of the incredible structures on the property.

For more information on the early history of the orphan asylum, check out The history of the Jewish foster home & orphan asylum of Philadelphia by Samuel M. Fleischman (1905) and Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia (Images of America) by Allen Meyers (2006).

images and words via Opacity