Wayne history program covers history of the Willard Asylum

Seneca County Historian Walter Gable will give a presentation on the history of the Willard Asylum for Insane at 2 p.m. April 21 at the Wayne Town Hall, 9772 Silsbee Road, Wayne. The program, sponsored by the Town of Wayne History Group, is open to the public; donations accepted. Refreshments served. Call 607-292-3450 for details.

Gable will provide information to help answer these questions:

‒ Why did a portion of land in Seneca County become the largest state mental institution in the United States?

‒ Why was the Willard Asylum called “a great experiment”?

‒ How were patients treated?

‒ Do the “Willard suitcases” give us a realistic insight into the nature of patients there?

‒ What led to the closure of the Willard Psychiatric Center?

‒ What has happened to the hospital grounds since the closure of the Willard Psychiatric


‒ Why has it been so difficult to find out information about Willard patients?

‒ What about ghosts and other paranormal activity at the former hospital?

‒ What do we know about patients buried in the hospital cemeteries?

For many years, local people would rather derisively comment about a person who said or did something rather odd by saying the person “belonged in Willard.” The place referenced was the Willard Asylum for the Insane, which became the largest mental asylum in the entire United States.

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