Abandoned Sykesville hospital should be razed, firefighters say
Friday, December 21st 2007
Sykesville - Kids talk of ghosts who haunt the place.
Homeless people hang out there.
And firefighters have grown tired of putting out blazes at Henryton Hospital Center in Sykesville, abandoned since 1985, when it last treated people with developmental disabilities.
Several mysterious fires in recent years have local firefighters calling for Henryton’s demolition.
“That is an extremely dangerous facility, and we’ve been down there too often,” said Bill Rehkopf, spokesman for the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department.
The most recent fire started about 4 a.m. Wednesday in an auditorium. It took a few hours for nearly 80 firefighters from three counties to control the blaze because, like most fires at the complex, nobody reported it until it grew large enough to be seen from a distance.
But its 19 buildings, where doctors treated tuberculosis patients from the 1920s to the 1960s, have become a seedy, secluded spot for teenagers and homeless people to hang out, spray graffiti and perhaps even commit arson, Rehkopf said.
“What I’m really afraid of is someone down there is going to get hurt or killed,” Rehkopf said.
The buildings are so dilapidated that firefighters don’t venture inside to battle the blazes, he said.
The state should raze the complex on the 53-acre site, surrounded by Patapsco State Park, or at least fence it off or renovate it.
The state has tried to sell the Henryton site for more than 20 years but has found no takers.
An appraisal should be done by January, and a firm that has expressed interest will be contacted then, said Ian Tinsdale, spokesman for the Department of General Services.
If the firm is no longer interested, the center will be open to the public to buy, he said.
Some of the buildings at the complex are historic, so permission to raze them may not be easy to get, and putting a fence around the site may not be practical, said John Hammond, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“I don’t know what would be involved in fencing a 53-acre area in,” Hammond said. “And the next question would be: ‘Will that keep people out?’ I understand there are no-trespassing signs, and they don’t seem to keep people out.”
This article was written by Mike Silvestri and published by The Examiner on Friday, December 21st 2007 and NOT owned by nor affiliated with opacity.us, but are recorded here solely for educational use. The photographs featured in the article are randomly selected from the Henryton State Hospital galleries on opacity.us unless noted otherwise; they may not directly relate to the article subject matter except for the site location - any other relation is purely coincidental.