new posts
UER Store
location db
db map
terms of service
privacy policy

UER Forum > Archived US: Pacific Northwest > Western State Hospital's Hill Ward is a shadow of it's past (Viewed 926 times)

Location: Collingwood
Gender: Male

Send Private Message | Send Email
Western State Hospital's Hill Ward is a shadow of it's past
< on 3/13/2009 8:53 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum

LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- Thomas Barham did a double-take when he saw the site of the old Hill Ward at Fort Steilacoom Park this week.

"Whoa," said Barham, 22. "What happened to this place?"

It had been more than a year since the Lakewood resident last visited the 1932-era Western State Hospital building that housed patients who worked on a nearby farm.

After it was abandoned three decades later, Hill Ward became a popular hangout for youths looking to party, contact the supernatural or prey on park visitors.

Barham remembers exploring the dilapidated building when he was younger, from its crumbling walls to what was left of its bathrooms. On Wednesday, he and some friends visited the transformed location, the source of memories for generations of Lakewood residents.

Barham may not be the only one surprised by Hill Wards new look. The public will have a chance to celebrate the changes at an event this weekend.

Two years ago, the city, the county and the state agreed to pitch in $693,000 to demolish the building and create a memorial.

Today, Hill Ward has been largely replaced by a raised concrete platform atop the original building's footprint.

Source: http://seattlepi.n..._wa_hill_ward.html

Lakewood city employees have worked for the last year to transform it into a quiet, meditative place.

Mary Dodsworth, the city's parks and recreation director, said the community indicated that it didn't want too prominent a memorial to Hill Ward's history and former inhabitants.

A walkway meanders down the center of the former building's footprint, which residents say resembles an eagle in flight.

The walkway leads to a "labyrinth" that includes a single chunk of the old building. The term labyrinth might be deceiving because there's no confusing collection of walls, just a mazelike pattern where people can walk and reflect.

The original staircases that once led to entrances on either side of Hill Ward now climb up to the memorial, which sits atop a mound of pulverized pieces from the old building.

The city also included two of the original wall sections that are now covered with graffiti.

Dodsworth said the city didn't clean them because it wanted to maintain their integrity, and they would probably be "tagged" again anyway.

Long-timers might also notice a new trail that loops around Hill Ward and stones that serve as steps for hikers trying to reach the site. (There are wheelchair-accessible ramps as well.)

A piece of the original chimney stands as a marker along the Waughop Lake trail.

By Saturday, the city plans to have signs and a plaque installed.

Hill Ward once housed 300 Western State patients who worked on the old hospital farm. It later became part of Fort Steilacoom Park.

Pierce County crews tore down parts of the building in 1989, although people continued to visit the site.

In summer 2006 it was a hangout for people who preyed on park users. Lakewood police arrested eight people suspected in a series of assaults and robberies. They called themselves Juggalos, followers of the rap group Insane Clown Posse.

The place also was an attraction for fans of the supernatural who believe its grounds are haunted.

"We used to hear voices," said Deidren Norris of Lakewood, 38. She also used to attend parties at Hill Ward.

"People used to have séances. I totally felt it was haunted."

Other residents have less spooky memories.

Joanne Pickles, 73, said she remembers hearing stories about the hospital doing shock treatments and other unpleasant procedures on patients.

"Kids used to go in and out of it all the time," the Lakewood resident said. "Even my kids used to sneak up there."

Charles Candle, 24, is a lifetime Lakewood resident and offered mixed feelings about Hill Ward's new look.

As he surveyed the memorial earlier this week, he admitted he was somewhat disappointed.

"It's nice, but it isn't authentic," said Candle, who recalled going to the Hill Ward site to drink with friends.

Laura Drittenpreis, 38, said she also used to party at the site, but she's looking forward to the new memorial.

"I love reading about historic sites like this," she said this week while her daughter Laylah played at the Fort Steilacoom playground.

"I think it's great. I think it's neat how all the pieces come together."


Send Private Message | Send Email
Re: Western State Hospital's Hill Ward is a shadow of it's past
<Reply # 1 on 4/24/2009 11:30 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
Well said. I've heard rumors of other annexes of Western State within Steliacoom Park, do you know if those were also done away with in '06? I'd definitely be down for checking them out.


Location: Tacoma-ish
Gender: Male

Send Private Message | Send Email
Re: Western State Hospital's Hill Ward is a shadow of it's past
<Reply # 2 on 8/14/2009 9:12 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
Having been all over this park, I can say with 99% certainty there isn't any other remaining parts of the building

UER Forum > Archived US: Pacific Northwest > Western State Hospital's Hill Ward is a shadow of it's past (Viewed 926 times)

All content and images copyright 2002-2019 UER.CA and respective creators. Graphical Design by Crossfire.
To contact webmaster, or click to email with problems or other questions about this site: UER CONTACT
View Terms of Service | View Privacy Policy | Server colocation provided by Beanfield
This page was generated for you in 78 milliseconds. Since June 23, 2002, a total of 594117186 pages have been generated.