Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ruins of the Old Laurel Sanitarium

Halloween seems to be the appropriate day to go back to my older portfolio of paintings and post an image of this canvas, completed in 1991 when I was still living in Maryland. The subject is the remains of the main building on the grounds of the Laurel Sanitarium, an early 20th century mental hospital and farm that once operated in my hometown of Laurel, MD.

When I was young I lived on a street that bounded the sanitarium grounds. In 1964 the entire complex was razed in a controlled burn. My family sat in our front yard and watched as each structure was purposely set on fire. For six years after that day, the ruins stood empty and crumbling, and were easily accessible to me and my friends. My sister and I especially loved to ride our bikes on the old driveways and explore the derelict buildings, making up creepy stories about what might have taken place behind its walls.

In 1970 the grounds were finally bull-dozed over and a large department store and shopping center addition were built on the site. Over the years several apartments and housing complexes were constructed nearby, and today nothing remains that would ever indicate it even existed. This link, however, includes two photos of the sanitarium buildings circa 1910-1914. It was quite a bucolic setting in its heyday.

"Ruins of the Old Laurel Sanitarium." Oil on stretched canvas, 18 x 24 inches. Completed December 1991.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

A very nice likeness of the old sanitarium. I, too, lived a few blocks from the site and recall as a child seeing the still-intact buildings of the spooky old place from our living room window. I saw lights in the old cupola several times after the place was long abandoned which fuled the ghost stories of the local kids. When it was burned down we used to visit it and do our own exploring. Perhaps we crossed paths with a young Mr. Peters. It was indeed a lovely complex of buildings and quite a shame to lose it. The original stucture was rolled up to the site from another location near 5th St. & Gorman Ave. using horses and logs. The apartments and townhouses that occupy the site now certainly don't do justice to this lost piece of Laurel history.