Tag Archives: Traverse City State Hospital

Traverse City State Hospital Tunnels & Basement – Part 4

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By now, you must be wondering how long I spent in the Traverse City State Hospital.  The photography tour was actually only 2 hours.  In this short time, I was amazed at the number of interesting photos I was made.  The tour concluded in one of the tunnels that ran under the grounds.  The tunnel was perhaps my favorite scene to photograph.  The texture, color and lines of the rows of brick converging as you look through the tunnel were fun to photograph.  My favorite photo of the tunnel is the one above.  The viewer is left to wonder what is beyond the door at the end of the tunnel.

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Prior to entering the tunnels, we toured the basement of one of the buildings.  It was extremely dark in the basement and we were given flashlights to be able to find our way around.  The photo below is a very interesting display of light and shadows entering this hall from window in the rooms to the left of the hall.

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This is one of those rooms to the left of the hall above where you can see the source of the light streaming through the doorways into the hall.

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Posted in Michigan, Photography

Traverse City State Hospital Attic – Part 3

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Images from the attic of one of the cottages fill this third post of photos from the Traverse City State Hospital.  Geometric shapes and lines filed the frame of most of the photographs in the attic.  My favorite attic photo is the one above.  I like the way the triangular shapes draw your eyes to the light streaming into the window at the far end of the room.  A tripod was essential to my success up there.  All of these images were bracketed to capture the wide dynamic range between darkness and light.  These photos were then converted using Photomatix Pro software into HDR images.  Because it was rather dark, timed exposures were necessary.

The 8 mm fish-eye lens on my Fuji X-Pro2 camera created very engaging attic photos of an otherwise uninteresting space.  Lens corrections have been made to the first and third images to remove distortion normally associated with a fish-eye lens.  The second and fourth have not been corrected.  Often the intended use of a fish-eye is bend straight lines at the edges of the photograph for effect.  You can see the differences in the same perspective in the two photos directly below.

The shape of this area below created great opportunities for the fish-eye lens.  I found the area in the photos below visually interesting with such a wide perspective.  The holes in the domed roof created spots of light that seemed to sparkle on the walls and floor.  Not only were there holes in the roof, but there were places in the attic that were not safe to walk because of rotting floorboards.  Our guide was careful to inform us where to walk to be safe in this area.  We were certainly very fortunate to visit the attic on a day when the temperatures were in the mid 70’s.

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Posted in Michigan, Photography

Traverse City State Hospital Interior – Part 2


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The interiors of the Traverse City State Hospital have certainly aged and deteriorated.  It is clear that the beauty of the place was once an important part of the experience.  Dr. James Munson, who oversaw the hospital from 1885 to 1924, believed in the “beauty is therapy” philosophy.   This philosophy was evident in the grounds and surroundings in addition to the interior of the facilities.  You can read about this philosophy at: Wikipedia TCSH History.  Archways, windows, doors, and artwork all demonstrated the attention paid the details of the hospital. Through the decay I still saw that it was once a bright and colorful place.  It is sad to see the state of disrepair that is present in these once grand buildings.

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Posted in Michigan, Photography

Traverse City State Hospital Photo Tour – Part 1

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Yesterday, I made a last minute decision to take the Traverse City State Hospital Photo Tour.  The Traverse City State Hospital (“TCSH”) which was also known as the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The facility opened around 1885 and operated until the hospital was completely closed in 1989.  The site included over 600 acres of land with the original building, 13 cottages, support buildings and a working farm.  If you are interested, you can read a historic profile of the site found at this link:  http://www.garfield-twp.com/downloads/2_historic_profile.pdf.  The main building known as building 50 is 400,000 square feet and has been redeveloped and now includes restaurants, shops, apartments and offices.  The overall complex had over 1,000,000 square feet.  Some of the other buildings have also been redeveloped, but some still remain untouched.  The site is now known as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.It is these buildings and the tunnels that run underground connecting these buildings that comprised the two hour photo tour.

The tour was one that allowed photographers to use a tripod.  I am glad I did as the buildings were extremely dark the only light that which came through windows and openings in the buildings.  Hand holding a number of these images would have been nearly impossible without extremely high ISO’s.  I bracketed almost every photo I made inside the buildings to capture the full range of light.  I used Photomatix Pro to composite a number of the bracketed images into a single HDR images to better capture the lighting and shadows of these interiors.

I have so many photos from this tour that I plan to split up the posts into a number of installments.  This will keep each post to only 4 or 5 photos.  I was required to sign a waiver before I could participate in the tour.  The waiver acknowledged hazards that could potentially exist from climbing stairs in the dark, to rotting floorboards and lead paint that is on the walls throughs the buildings.   I will start this series of posts with what I first saw upon entering one of the cottages on the grounds:  peeling paint everywhere.

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Posted in Michigan, Photography