Media invited to tour Allentown State Hospital
On a tree-lined circular driveway off Hanover Avenue in a section of east Allentown, formerly called Rittersville, sits the closed Allentown State Hospital.
Members of the media were invited to tour the interior areas of the abandon psychiatric hospital on Jan. 24.
While a warm rainy day outside, it was a cold 37 degrees inside the hospital.
The tour, hosted by Troy Thompson with the Pennsylvania Department of General Services and led by Bill Bogari of the state Department of Human Services, began in the rotunda featuring marble walls, columns and floors, and a spiral staircase with oak handrails and metal balusters, a bank with a Stiffel & Freeman vault, switchboard office, and a break room with dark wood-framed windows and red tile floors.
As Bogari led the tour through a long, enclosed walkway with windows and white painted walls toward the kitchen areas and dining hall, he pointed out the courtyards on both sides.
“When I was here, the horticulture group planted and raised flowers out there,” he said.
On the first floor, there was paint peeling from the walls, old cork ceiling panels on the washroom tile floor and a space where the oven had been in the kitchen.
Bogari pointed out the old operating room.
“It doesn’t look like it use to,” he said. “It was renovated with new yellow tiles and paint for the movie ‘Glass.’”
There was not much to indicate Director M. Night Shyamalan and actors Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis and James McAvoy were there in 2017 to film “Glass” except for a Raven Hill Memorial Psychiatric Hospital sign leaning against a wall on the left of the dining hall.
The auditorium featured blue walls, decorative blue and white design around the stage, old chandeliers, wall sconces, oak floors and dark wood ceiling.
The chapel was off limits because of mold, but handprinting on one wall stated: Inside of Chapel total 2,250.
In December 2010, the psychiatric hospital, which once served Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Monroe, and Pike counties l, closed its doors.
Thompson said bids for the demolition are slated to go out in March or April with the hospital being demolished later this year.
Developer Nat Hyman of Allentown has offered to buy the property. He emailed The Press on Feb. 18.
“The state continues to pay $2.2 million annually to maintain the State Hospital, which it then plans to demolish at a cost of $15 million,” Hyman said. “It then anticipates selling this property for $2.3 million ... a loss of almost $13 million.
“The proposed buyer is a company which has one employee, has never developed anything of nearly this scale.”
Hyman said his company is one of the two largest developers in Allentown, with a long track record of redeveloping historic properties.
“I have offered to buy the property for the same price as the other buyer, but will not require the demolition to be done or for any tax relief,” Hyman stated.
“My proposal will save taxpayers, at minimum, $15 million. Yet, state Sen. Pat Browne, R-16th, refuses to return my calls or letters to discuss my proposal.”