Demise of Old Center Building, Topeka State Hospital Grounds, 1900-2010
— Select a thumbnail to see the larger photograph—

west gate, Topeka State Hospital grounds, 6th St., near Randolph, Topeka gate as it apeared in June 2010 Old Center building was a focal point to any vehicle traveling in from the south entrance to hospital grounds
Stone gates at entrance, State Hospital Grounds, 6th Street at Randolph, Topeka, Kansas. Old Center Building was constructed in 1901.
Diary entry, Sat., Jun. 5, 2010 — Old Center Building Razed
by Carol Yoho, Topekan

Mama was on my mind yesterday. I went out to run errands and stopped first at the Topeka State Hospital grounds. They are tearing down the Old Center building. I’d heard about these plans just last Tuesday
on TV news. Topeka Unifi ed School District owns the property. The building is being razed with no specifi c plans for use of the space.

Mama was a “guest” there for the fi rst time in the summer of 1950. I believe she was admitted just one or two days after her 29th birthday. (She would have been 89 years old today, her birthday, if she were still living.) I threw out her letters from that time, but I’ve typed them all into a computer fi le, and would still like to give her fi rsthand accounts of her stay to the Kansas State Historical Society.

Of course, I don’t remember the earliest visits. Mama wrote about Dad bringing me to see her on my fi rst birthday, in the middle of July. She was not yet allowed out on the grounds, so she had to touch me through some wire fencing. Her letter to her parents was full of the pain of separation.

What I remember is the visits when I was older. Age two? Three? Dad had moved us from Alma to tract housing at the dead end of Randolph Street. He and I would make the trip north along Randolph from the 2500 block to 6th Street. One tiny jog, and we’d go through the hospital entrance gates and down the long drive to that huge, tan brick building with turrets and levels of curved porches. Dad would check Mama out for an afternoon drive and she’d come down a long hallway from “somewhere” inside, then ride with us in the Plymouth. We’d often drive around in Gage Park and visit the zoo or the rose garden. Sometimes we’d eat lunch out. I remember when Mama stayed in various buildings of the complex, but we’d still go straight up Randolph and through those gates! I always enjoyed the fountain in front of Old Center.

Yesterday I felt I had to take photos before the site becomes a pile of rubble and disappears. Such an impressive place! It represents so much heartbreak, so much history--my history. It’s about to be gone.

This entry is reproduced from page 12 of the Shawnee Co. Historical Society newsletter, June 2010

 

This building, Old Center, was the administration building of Topeka State Hospital. It was built in 1900.

roofline, east facade

Demolition was begun in early June, 2010, with the stripping of detailing. Grounds are currently owned by USD 501 school district. There are no plans for using this space. Other buildings are to be demolished also.

building as it was being stripped
turret, southwest corner curved triple porch, southeast turret awaiting demolition

Reduced to rubble, July 6, 2010
after demolition, Wed., July 14, 2010 turret foundation peeks from ruins rubble of a magnificent building

Visit the inside of Old Center Building, via youTube (5:11):

Watch either of two brief videos of demolition:   

Kris Holmes Facebook photos of The Great Demise

and...WIBW News story video

See this personal memory of the Institution, including video of the tunnels beneath.

All site photos © 2010 by Carol Yoho
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