Byberry State Hospital has been out for two months this week (it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long already!) and it’s been getting some great reviews in the local Philadelphia newspapers. Thought I’d share!
“Byberry State Hospital . . . tells the real-life horror story of Northeast Philadelphia’s notorious mental institution, shuttered since 1990, in a meticulously detailed narrative and 200 historical photographs. Jones’ balanced portrait of life at Byberry State Hospital ranges from photos of therapeutic art and music classes to graphic evidence of wards where patients spent all day naked in grotesquely unsanitary, overcrowded conditions.”
—Dan Geringer, Philadelphia Daily News, “New Book Delves into Terror at Byberry Hospital.”
“[The book] focuses on the rarely discussed positive aspects of a facility, infamous for all its shortcomings. And this is a good thing. While tales of violence, neglect, abuse, and mismanagement have become the hospital’s legacy, little is said or remembered of the hundreds of staff members, volunteers, and directors who did their best to help the helpless and forgotten people in their care. Here, instead, the reader is treated to images of picnics, performances, art and music therapy—and even Byberry’s own Boy Scout troop. Open houses and tours were an attempt to educate the community while gaining support for the hospital. Jones concludes the book with a look at the abandoned crumbling structures in their final days, shot by Hidden City contributor Chandra Lampreich. Byberry State Hospital allows the reader a glimpse behind the walls and fences into a rarely seen and less understood world.”
—Ethan Wallace, Hidden City Philadelphia, “Two New Books Provide a Fitting Eulogy to Byberry State Hospital.”
I was also interviewed by Patrick Rapa at the Philadelphia CityPaper for an article exploring “What Did We Learn From Byberry?”
If you haven’t picked up a copy of the book yet and are still interested it’s available for purchase, as Mr. Geringer so helpfully pointed out, at “Smith’s Hardware on Torresdale Avenue near Disston in Tacony, at Walgreens on Bustleton Avenue near Byberry Road in Somerton, at SEPTA headquarters’ gift shop on Market Street near 12th, and at all area Barnes & Noble stores.” And if you’d like a signed copy, you can order it from me through the site (see the order button in the right hand margin).
(Image Credit: Philadelphia CityPaper.)