For those that are familiar with the Images of America Series by Arcadia you will be happy to know there will now be a Harrisburg State Hospital book that you can add to your collection. For those who are not, this is a 128 page soft cover "photo history" book. Every page contains at least a single photo and a caption to go with it. My book tells the basic history of the hospital from the time it was founded to present day. I have also gone to great lengths to find rarely or never before seen photos to include in this book, of which I can tell you there are at least 65 vintage photos that you have probably never seen before. The book is scheduled for a March 2013 release.

Harrisburg State Hospital opened in 1851 as the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital, the first public institution in the state. Situated atop a hill overlooking the Susquehanna River, the original building was an early example of a Kirkbride design hospital. The facility closed in 2006 after serving the commonwealth for 155 years. Harrisburg State Hospital: Pennsylvania's First Public Asylum presents a pictorial history of the hospital from the first year of only 12 patients through the peak of state care, when the population reached over 2,500 in the 1950s. Harrisburg State Hospital was an innovative leader in the treatment of the mentally ill, pioneering new methods of therapy even before they were common practice. It was a community and a home for those whom society could not otherwise care for.
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  • Girl, Interrupted

In 1999 Harrisburg State Hospital was used for the hospital setting in the film, Girl, Interrupted. The movie starred quite a few well known actors, including Whoopi Goldberg, Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, and Kurtwood Smith. Harrisburg State Hospital settings were meant to resemble those of the grounds of McLean Hospital in Massachusetts. The majority of the scenes were shot in Building #22 and the Administration Building. During the time that the movie was being filmed, the hospital was still very much an active state hospital, though it's patient population was much lower than in previous years.
The following is from the press release information about the making of the 1999 Winona Ryder film "Girl Interrupted".
Although it is still a fully-operational mental facility with inpatient and outpatient programs covering a wide variety of illnesses and treatments, there were several buildings on the "campus" which were empty and not being used by the facility, perfect accommodations for the film company's production offices, transportation base camp and screening room (in what use to be the hospital chapel). In the case of Building 22, there was a unique opportunity to create the entire South Bell ward of Claymoore Hospital.
 Production designer Richard Hoover (a 1999 Tony Award winner for "Not About Nightingales") and his staff of art directors, designers, set dressers and construction crews renovated 75 percent of Building 22. They created an entire ward of bedrooms, nurses' stations, a living room, a television room and several medical rooms out of the architectural shell of the building. Inside, they dressed and decorated the ward with everything circa late 1960s: light fixtures, furniture, even the color of paints used on the walls and ceilings.
 The production design team also "decorated" many other areas of the State Hospital campus, including offices in the administration building and several hundred yards of the miles of underground tunnels that snake their way underneath the campus. Additionally, the design team landscaped much of the hospital grounds, according to the seasonal changes dictated within the script.
 "The Harrisburg State Hospital is known as `The City on the Hill,'" says Konrad. "For our time there, we lovingly referred to it as our `back lot on the Hill.' It became a revolving sound stage for us, where we were able to build the sets to our specifications and use them as weather cover when necessary. We had incredible freedom in filming on the grounds. The landscape and brick architecture mirrored the backdrop of the story better than we could have ever imagined. It was a tremendous asset to the making of this film."

  • Another Harvest Moon

In 2008 Harrisburg State Hospital will once again be used as the setting for another movie called Another Harvest Moon. The movie is scheduled to be in production by June 2008. The only information available about the story so far is that it is set in a retirement home. Where the main character has survived a stroke and is reconciling living in a new way than he's accustomed to living.





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