Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I found a wonderful site about Kirkbride buildings. The main building at the Sunrise State Hospital for the mentally ill in my novel The Body in the Record Room is a Kirkbride building.
These buildings had a huge central "center" building, and wings on either side to house patients. At the time I was wandering through the one at Nevada, Missouri, the center building had offices and administrative facilities of all kinds.
It is that center building that Roy and Harry wander through. The record room was in the center building. We actually referred to that building as "Center," as in, "His office is on the second floor of 'Center'."
Rather than tell you a lot about the buildings, I will just refer you to the web site. It is very interesting. First, let's have a look at the Nevada, Missouri, State Hospital where I grew up. Then, we can look at the main page which tells a little of the history of the buildings. And from there, you can navigate for yourself.
It is almost impossible to explain what those places were. There is also a link to more information about Nevada.
The last site has a picture of patients seated in the auditorium where Roy and Harry watched their Roy Rogers movies. That picture was taken a long time before Roy and Harry's time. It doesn't really show the auditorium, but it shows how the seating was. The auditorium was on the second floor of Center, just as it is in the book.
For me, this is more than history. It is a part of my own past. I loved writing about it in The Body in the Record Room. And I loved creating the characters who inhabit those buildings in my novels. For me, writing the book was like going home again, except that home is just in my memory and there are many things I probably don't remember well.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy a tour of a lot of Kirkbride buildings, and I hope that tour gives you an even better understanding of where Roy and Harry lived.
PS The Body in the Record Room has been featured on The Page 69 Test site over the last few days. I think that is a fun site. It asks you to look at p. 69 in your book and see what it says about the book as a whole.
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