Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Old Bryce Hospital for the Insane
Time quickly eroded Bryce' legacy, however. By 1967, there were more than 5200 patients residing in a facility that was never meant to hold that many. Observers described Bryce as a concentration camp and a model for human cruelty. In 1970, one patient named Wyatt started a class action law suit against the Alabama's other mental hospital, Searcy State Hospital. This lead to major change in the way the mentally ill were treated in Alabama. The number of beds were cut drastically and humane treatment of the mentally ill became an absolute necessity. The landmark Wyatt v. Strickney Casee would change Bryce drastically. Old Bryce was the African American portion of Bryce Hospital and was notorious for being even more cruel than its white counterpart. After Wyatt v. Strickey and desegregation, Old Bryce was shut down entirely and other buildings were used. The African American patients were integrated into the white population.
Old Bryce still sits quietly deserted, however, as a reminder to the old days when patients were held like prisoners with no rights. It is covered in graffiti and has been vandalized many times. Its even been set on fire. Trespassing is forbidden here, but the curious have reported seeing all manner of horrors coming out of the dark around Old Bryce. Lights flicker on an off in the building that has no electricity. Phones ring in rooms with no phones. Phantom lights drift from room to room. Furniture moves on its own and footsteps echo through the abandoned hallways. The living patients may be gone, but many believe Old Bryce is still filled with the ghosts of those who once suffered in its walls.