In March of 2006, the Westrum Development Corporation purchased the 106 acre Byberry site. Pressured from Somerton residents
as well as the city to end the "Byberry problem", Westrum moved quickly. In April, the berry was frequented daily
by the regulars. But when June began, things halted. By June 7th there was a chain link fence surrounding the property. And
not a week later, truckloads of trees and other natural growth clinging to the buildings, were removed and discarded.
The C buildings, for the first time in 25 years, stood boldly, displaying their historic pride. One could now see how
they once formed a complex of buildings, a body in which many souls met with evil in one form or another. One could see not
only the large courtyards the buildings featured, but a better glimpse altogether of how these buildings were designed to
work. What did these buildings look like to the people locked within them? Perhaps they conjure up horrific images and thoughts.
Perhaps they were coveted and admired. Perhaps they were a safe, soft refuge from the barbaric world. Not since the 1980's
had the C buildings seen this much attention.
On Wednesday, June 14th 2006, a celebration of sorts was held in front of C-7. The celebration was the long overdue renovation
of this "eyesore". The ceremony consisted of knocking over the overgrown Philadelphia State Hospital sign. In attendence
were Governor Rendell, Mayor Street, J. Westrum (CEO), and J. Sweeny, CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, the developers of the
new buildings to be built on site.
Its hard to imagine the Byberry section of Philadelphia without thinking of PSH. It was the Philadelphia area's largest mental
health facility, providing for tens of thousands of sick in Philadelphia and surrounding communities for a hundred years.
But in a short time, it will become completely forgotten, wiped away by modern progress. We should not forget this very important
and very real part of American mental heathcare. The state hospitals in america are an endangered and ignored testament to
the failures of just such progress. Byberry was a prime example of the grim pasttime that was the American Asylum.
|THE REMAINS OF C-1