Old Central State
Writing this song led me into some really interesting historical research. On Indy’s near west side there is a vast green space just west of the zoo that used to house the Central State Hospital, formerly known as the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane.
Central State was an active hospital until 1994 when the facility was shut down. Looking at photos of the original grounds, it was quite a place. Grand victorian architecture and beautifully landscaped grounds were hidden away on this parcel of land— which many folks never laid eyes on due to the stigma of being a mental hospital. The stories of neighbors had a resounding tone of fear and suspicion towards the place.
But fast forward to today and what do we see? While there are still vestiges of many of the buildings of the Central State hospital, there are some impressive redevelopment efforts underway and this once home for the troubled in mind is becoming a burgeoning neighborhood housing a school, a brewery, a co-working/ living space, condos, and single-family homes.
As I visited the neighborhood, researched the history, and sat down to write this song, the dual emotions of sadness and hope mingled into my words and music. There are aspects of the treatment of the inmates of central state which made me cringe, but this was also a place constructed to be an enclave of peace and tranquility for the troubled in mind. And today there is a hopeful scene being birthed in this once blighted property. I captured these emotions in this song which has a whimsically dark, yet hopeful feel.
On Washington Street
What do we make of this history?
Troubled in Mind
Who will look after, who will be kind?
Walkways of green
This was a place of such grand design
Doctors and Staff
Seeking to cure
What did they find, what did they learn?
You are coming awake
Old Central State
You are blossoming to life.
Now there still stands
Structures of Brick
Reminders to us, to care for the sick
Acres of Green
Parcels of Land
Bright colored houses, filling the plan
This is the new
Merging with old
Stories collide, what will unfold?
Hopeful and Bold
The Near-West Side grows
This piece of land now open for all