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As part of the About Time history festival 2013, Mindshare SA and the Glenside Hospital Historical Society operated tours of the hospital hosted by former Glenside psychologist David Buob. Once known as the Parkside Lunatic Asylum and later as Parkside Mental Hospital, the hospital is going through a period of great change now.
The tours covered some of the major buildings that have not been demolished as part of SA Health's Glenside Hospital redevelopment. With his personal experience over the years, David Buob was able to provide fascinating insights into hospital life, as well as special access to some buildings.
On the walk participants gained an appreciation of the conditions that mental health patients and those with psychiatric disorders endured in days gone by. Not all were voluntary, nor were all adults. Some were admitted for homosexuality (then considered a mental illness) and given electroconvulsive therapy (ECT or shock therapy).
Former Administration Building - Now Adelaide Studios
After seeing these buildings I'm pleased to see that the state government is finding alternative uses for them, and that they are being tastefully and appropriately renovated. One such example is the Adelaide Central School of Art re-purposing the P&O building, Dining Room, and the Chapel.
This article is based upon information provided on the tour. You can find even more photos on the Mindshare website, where people are also encouraged to share their experiences of the mental health system with others.
For a detailed history of the infamous Z Ward for the criminally insane at Glenside Hospital with many current and historical photos, see this article. You can also read about Eastwood Lodge, the former Nurse's Home which is currently under threat of demolition.
Due to the demand for this event, additional tours may be available. Please check the Mindshare website.
The patients spent time every day in the airing court, a completely enclosed exercise yard with high walls. It was equipped with the most basic of latrine facilities and bathing was completed using containers of water until 1961 when the bathroom and toilet annex was added.
For most of its life, The Elms housed female patients - it must have looked very grim and forbidding the first time a patient with mental illness saw the building. In the early years mental health and poverty were viewed somewhat interchangeably, and new admissions did not necessarily have mental disorders.
The patients were expected to do a couple of hours work every day, and the work was considered at the time to be appropriate to the sexes. Women might work in the laundry, while men would do gardening.
The Elms was used as a ward for elderly men by the 1980s, and later as a Domestic Training Unit and for Music Therapy. Most space has clearly not been used for many years, with thick layers of dust and musty smells.
While the name P&O Building might conjure glamorous and romantic images of sailing off on a luxury world cruise, the actual origins of the name are rather more prosaic. It was a simplification of the ward naming - originally being M, N and O wards for males, and then changing to permutations of P and O when wards were sexually integrated in the 1960s.
As part of SA Health's Glenside redevelopment, this building has been leased to the not-for-profit Adelaide Central School of Art for 50 years at a peppercorn rent. The Dining Room, the Chapel and Erindale are also being renovated for the School to complete their campus.
The School of Art is taking care to renovate these buildings in a manner appropriate to their heritage listings. New facilities include temporary student studios, a library and student common room. An additional staircase has been added externally to avoid changing the original building's structure.
The hospital mortuary (or dead house on the original plans) was distant from the old Lunatic Asylum. It was a small building constructed in 1880 of Glen Osmond bluestone with rendered parapets, quoins and surrounds to windows and door openings.
Extensions on the north side for a viewing room and a laboratory on the south side were between 1919-23. The viewing room has a coloured window with lead lighted glass giving it the air of a chapel.
The mortuary exterior has now been carefully restored, but it's part in the Glenside Hospital redevelopment is curious almost to the point of bizarre - it is now surrounded closely on three sides by the Helen Mayo building with striking contemporary architecture.
The redevelopment FAQ state The former mortuary will be sympathetically redeveloped as part of the Helen Mayo pod. If that is the case then I dread to see an unsympathetic development.
It brings to mind the phrase "In the midst of life we are in death", as the Helen Mayo clinic is an acute mother-baby unit dealing with mental health and related problems of mothers after childbirth.
In 2003 the conservation architects stated: Internally, the Mortuary building retains most of the components that supported its function and still illustrate its former role, which gives the building high integrity and a high interpretive potential.
With that in mind, the Glenside Hospital Historical Society is hopeful that they may be able to use the mortuary as part of a future museum.
More information about the mortuary can be found here.
Former Chapel and Dining Room
Former Glenside Hospital Chapel & Women's Dining Room
Although originally built in 1880 as a combined chapel and dining room for women, this building was not used as a chapel until 1970.
Although the mortuary was given coloured windows with lead lighting, there were no such refinements in the chapel. However the high arched wooden ceiling gave the chapel interior an ecclesiastical air.
You did extremely well to take so many photos with the absence of tour participants. Was a fascinating tour - thanks for the recommendation. Apparently there will be another tour held next Sun due to overwhelming interest.
Great articles, thank you! The buildings are so beautiful and it's good to see them being used again, although I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind surrounding the old mortuary with contemporary architecture.