Landmarks Society hosting tour of former Utica Psychiatric Center

By Gary Liberatore

(WKTV) - The Landmarks Society of Greater Utica has been fighting to save the former Utica Psychiatric Center since it closed in 1978.

On Monday, it is having a tour of the facility and offering those who attend a chance to sign a petition to show that they would like to see the historic structure turned into a museum.

It is still owned by the state, which uses it as a repository for archives of patient informatin from mental health facilities across the state.

Paul Hage, president of the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica, says he and others in the organization have been working with the state to hold the tour.

"We do have a petition to kind of gauge the importance and the popularity of this," said Hage. "We'd like to see it as a museum."

The tour runs from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday night and there is a $5 donation requested to take the tour.  All money raised will be used by the Landmarks Society in its effort to restore the Rutger Street mansions.

The building was  the first mental health facilities in New York State and one of the first in the country. Known as the Utica Lunatic Asylum, it was eventually renamed the Utica Pscyhiatric Center.

According to Hage, people came from all over the country and the world to see the instiution, which housed 1,000 patients at one time. The patients worked at the facility, in such positions as shoemaker, seamstress and farmer.

The center was also the birthplace a box-type crate that people were put in, which became known worldwide as the "Utica Crib." Some of the cribs had cables hooked up so the person inside could be rocked, which was soothing to the patients.

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