The New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica
A History of Old Main
Known as "Old Main," the New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica opened in 1843 as the first institution of its kind to treat madness as a medical illness, not a curse. A series of groundbreaking administrators sought to save mentally ill New Yorkers from lives of confinement in sordid conditions and create a safe haven. A sense of normalcy was established for patients through Old Main's Asylum Band, the Opal monthly publication and other arts programs. The infamous Utica Crib was invented at the asylum, and visitors from around the world sought to tour the facility and its utopian structure. Though closed in 1978, Old Main was placed in the National Register of Historic Places, and its iconic columns still mesmerize the public today. Author Dennis Webster charts the history of the New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica.