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Horrors!!! Why would you want to live there!?!? [Apr. 12th, 2006|12:48 am]
[mood |scaredscared]
[music |Scientists speaking about the Reed Sea]


DANVERS, Massachusetts (AP) -- In real estate, location even trumps spooky.

Across the nation, former state hospitals for the mentally ill -- with dated names like "lunatic asylum" -- are being converted into homes.

Even the ominous Danvers State Hospital, once described as "the scariest building in the world" and a favorite destination of ghost-hunting thrill-seekers, soon will be home to laptop-toting latte drinkers.

"There's obviously a lot of notoriety associated with the site," said Scott Dale, a vice president at AvalonBay Communities Inc., which is constructing 497 luxury apartments and condominiums. "We think, at the end of the day, that will be helpful."

No units are on the market yet. But Dale expressed confidence that occupancy won't be hurt by the property's jaded past, including a cemetery with some unmarked graves -- one reminder of the sad history of treatment of the mentally ill.

The property development formula has been successful elsewhere.

Six hundred would-be buyers signed up for the first 60 homes built at the site of the former Dammasch State Hospital, a $500 million project in Wilsonville, Oregon, 20 miles south of Portland, city officials said.

In Traverse City, Michigan, developers of a former asylum overlooking Lake Michigan have down payments in hand from buyers looking for condos, and a waiting list should those buyers bow out.
Studio apartment rent: $1,700

Rents at the 500-unit Octagon, the former New York City Lunatic Asylum on Manhattan's Roosevelt Island, are 10 percent higher than expected, developer Bruce Becker said. Studio apartments in the $170 million development start at $1,700.

"It certainly still has a slight mystery to it, but I wouldn't say scary or haunted," said Rebecca Shaw, who next month is moving with her boyfriend into a one-bedroom unit at the Octagon.

The asylum, built in 1841, later became a hospital, which closed in 1955. Trailblazing journalist Nellie Bly spent time undercover at the asylum and wrote in 1887 that it was a "human rat trap."

Shaw, who grew up on Roosevelt Island, recalled bicycling and roller-skating on the grounds.

"At that time it was weeds and bushes, overgrown plant life, which made it really cool," the 30-year-old social worker said. "For kids that was part of the appeal, it was scary and spooky. When you get older you decipher what's real and what isn't."

What's real: parking space, short commute.

"For my work, I need to be close to the city. And the price is right for this point in my life," Shaw said.

The housing boom led developers to former mills, old schoolhouses, and now state hospitals. The mentally ill in the past were thought to benefit from bucolic settings. The Danvers facility, opened in 1878 as the State Lunatic Hospital, is atop a large hill overlooking the North Shore, and its 75 acres featured paths and working farms.

Eventually, many facilities closed and were left vacant as treatment moved away from overcrowded institutions in favor of smaller group homes.

Dale, the developer at Danvers, said AvalonBay is creating a "campus-like environment" with a swimming pool, WiFi cafe and fitness center. Rents will start around $1,400 for a one-bedroom, and about half-a-million dollars for a condo.

AvalonBay, since buying the property for $18 million late last year, has taken over security. In the past five years, Massachusetts State Police charged 150 people and issued warnings to an additional 450 people for trespassing, said spokesman Trooper Thomas R. Ryan.
'Preservation catastrophe'

Today, there's not much left for thrill-seekers. The main building is being renovated into 61 condos, but dozens of other structures are being bulldozed -- over the objection of local preservationists.

"This is probably the worst preservation catastrophe that's ever happened in the town," said Richard Trask, Danvers' town archivist since the Nixon administration.

Trask -- who calls the "Disneyfication" of the original complex unappealing -- was among four activists and a local preservation group which unsuccessfully sued to stop AvalonBay.

Toby Fisher, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness said he's glad to see Danvers go.

"The buildings are a little on the dreary side, to say the least," he said. "Thank goodness there are better forms of treatment."

Still, developers can be sensitive. Web sites for the projects in New York, Oregon and Michigan make little or no mention of their properties' past use as asylums.

The Oregon project, named The Villebois to emulate the feel of European villages, will have townhouses starting at around $250,000. And just as a dose of precaution, developers called in help before work started.

"They had a psychic friend of theirs go through it and bless the spirits they thought were still hanging around," said Wilsonville Mayor Charlotte Lehan.

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[User Picture]From: maudelynn
2006-04-11 10:46 pm (UTC)
the pricest could be hair raising
i hope they paint it in colours that
are good for the spirit!
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 12:10 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: iamdakv
2006-04-11 11:21 pm (UTC)
shit. id live there. i want to see ghosts in my lifetime.
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:39 am (UTC)
*shudder* I am not a fan of seeing ghosts.
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[User Picture]From: foreverhollow
2006-04-11 11:22 pm (UTC)
i think it'd be kinda neat to be there.
"my neighbors are nuts"
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:42 am (UTC)
Oy. No thanks!
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[User Picture]From: hotbroccoli435
2006-04-11 11:49 pm (UTC)

*sigh* such terrible things happened there...why on earth would you want to live on top of that. bah.
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:43 am (UTC)
I'm with you completely. No thanks.
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[User Picture]From: afropunk629
2006-04-11 11:57 pm (UTC)
Oh em gee... you totally described my dream house.
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:44 am (UTC)
Not for me, thanks. But by all means. go for it. lol.
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[User Picture]From: sparklylights
2006-04-12 12:54 am (UTC)
I wouldn't like to live there, but at least it is a good thing that they are shutting down these evil places....
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[User Picture]From: foreverhollow
2006-04-12 01:06 am (UTC)
but i work in one.....except it is a "psychiatric hospital" as oppossed to "insane asylum"
please dont make me jobless :-(
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[User Picture]From: la_dolce
2006-04-12 03:27 am (UTC)
That's crazy. Now what are we supposed to watch on America's Haunted Places?

Oh, hi. :)
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:50 am (UTC)
Good call!

Hi! :) How ya doing?
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From: december27poet
2006-04-12 03:44 am (UTC)
Then again, have you watched HGTV and their series about turning old buildings into homes? They converted a drive thru into a home for a family.
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:52 am (UTC)
Drive thrus aren't nearly as scary as insane asylums. ;)
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[User Picture]From: xenaamazon
2006-04-12 04:03 am (UTC)


That is so spooky. lol.
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:52 am (UTC)

Re: Spooky.

It is.
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[User Picture]From: sapphirezelda
2006-04-12 05:05 am (UTC)
That's creepy....I don't think I would be able to stand living there. Do you think the buyer has to sign an agreement to not remove certain aspects of the property and to allow tourists and such?
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:54 am (UTC)
Ee. It's possible. The whole idea really freaks me out.
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[User Picture]From: hikaness
2006-04-12 06:12 am (UTC)
Well, there's a horror movie waiting to happen.
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:55 am (UTC)
Starring Paris Hilton.
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[User Picture]From: andrewg009
2006-04-12 07:16 am (UTC)
Well, it could always be like, "An American Haunting" or the "Shining" you never know what could happen, but with people running out of places to build viable places to live, I mean who knows, everything might be ok, it might now. If this comes back and bites'em though, I have the God-gifted ability to sit back and laugh.
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:58 am (UTC)
This is true. I wouldn't laugh though. I'd just shake my head at anyone stupid enough to buy one of those.. it's just tempting fate.
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[User Picture]From: duckfast
2006-04-12 07:46 am (UTC)
rar, that was a long post...and im a way to hungover to read all of it. sorry. next time :)
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 10:59 am (UTC)
lol. Did you get the basic idea?
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[User Picture]From: zibacco
2006-04-12 09:27 am (UTC)
It would make for good conversation at any dinner parties you might throw. You could say things like, "Phyllis, did you know they used to perform lobotamies right where you're sitting?". And you could tell the kids nifty bedtime tales about the psychos who used to live in their rooms. I'm sure that would be lots of fun for them...and their future therapists.

I would just hope that if you did get one of the haunted units, it would come with the spirit of some nice, quiet catatonic patient instead of one of those noisy schizophrenic ghosts.
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 11:02 am (UTC)

Oh... poor Phyllis.

And yeah... man... I'm so sensitive to spirits and things.I think I'd vomit just walking by that building. Living there would make me go literally insane.

Yay for catatonic and quiet.
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[User Picture]From: poop_on_a_stick
2006-04-12 12:44 pm (UTC)

I want SO bad to live in a crazy home...(awesome h-ween parties too, hee hee)! There was one near where i live, and it was HUGE and empty for years, (it had been a TB hospital, then a crazy hospital, then empty for a long time, and haunted) and it was GORGEOUS (in my kinda way)! i was in love with it and i told myself i would somehow buy it.

We broke in when i was young and there was still medical equipment inside, they just left it when they left. when you walked in, the wall said "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" in spraypaint and oh my god i wanted to live there soooooooooooooooo bad!!!!!!

Then they knocked it down. *cries*
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[User Picture]From: randomposting
2006-04-12 04:01 pm (UTC)
Ooooh. Creepy. The idea of abandoned medical equiptment really freaks me out. I don't know why but it's uber scary.
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