Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Central State

Central State-42, originally uploaded by Ryan Baxter Photography.

Time is standing still in a place of many untold horrors.

I recieved a phone call on Sunday night asking if I wanted to Central State Hospital and photograph. I nearly jumped through the phone. This is a place that I have wanted to get in for a very long time and a place that you just can't walk in and take pictures. The entire grounds are laced with a maze of underground tunnels and abandoned buildings.

Established 1885, main historic buildings long since demolished.

While the Indiana legislature had authorized the establishment of a "hospital for the insane" as early as 1827, the doors of the Indiana Hospital for the Insane (later re-named Central State Hospital) did not open until November, 1848. At this time, the hospital (called the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane after 1889 and then called Central State Hospital after 1926) opened with five patients and a single building, and by 1928, physicians cared for nearly 3,000 patients. At that time, the hospital consisted of one brick building situated on a large parcel of land, numbering over 100 acres, in the outskirts of Indianapolis (on Washington Street, west of downtown).

From 1848-1948, the hospital grew yearly until it encompassed two massive ornate buildings for the male and female patients, a pathological department, a "sick" hospital for the treatment of physical ailments, a farm colony where patients engaged in "occupational therapy", a chapel, an amusement hall complete with an auditorium, billiards, and bowling alleys, a bakery, a fire house, a cannery manned by patients, and idyllic gardens and fountains.

The more ornate of the two massive ornate buildings came to be known as "the Seven Steeples". This building was designed on the Kirkbride plan of state hospital design.

For a half-century, this complex array of buildings and gardens beckoned to all of the state's mentally ill. By 1905, however, mental health institutions elsewhere in Indiana, built in Evansville, Logansport, Madison, and Richmond relieved an overcrowded Central State Hospital of some of its patient load, leaving it to treat only those from the "central district", an area of 38 counties situated in the middle portion of the state.

By the late 1970s, most of the hospital's ostentatious, Victorian-era buildings were declared unsound and razed. In their place, the state constructed brick buildings of a nondescript, institutional genre. These modern buildings and the medical staff therein continued to serve the state's mentally ill, until allegations of patient abuse and funding troubles sparked an effort to forge new alternatives to institutionalization which, in turn, led to the hospital's closure in 1994.

The grounds of Central State Hospital still stand, largely vacant as of 1999. In place of the large male and female dormitories demolished in the 1970s is a large lawn. The Pathology Department building is well-preserved and houses the Indiana Medical History Museum

Fortunately, the Indiana State Archives, the Indiana State Library, and the Indiana History of Medicine Museum (housed in one of the hospital's remaining nineteenth-century edifices), are preserving the history of an institution that served, albeit not always well, the mentally ill of Indiana for 146 years.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


This is Holly, the latest of the Models that I have had the pleasure of working with. She will be a freshman in college in the fall and is a photographer herself as well. She was a blast to work with and was willing to let me try new things with lighting.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I am happy to announce that I am offering a special until the end of July, for the nominal fee of forty dollars you will receive a one hour photo session and a CD of 40 edited images and a copyright release. Please contact me via email if you are interested.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I know that it has been a very long time since I have posted but I'm on boss 4 for this year and have been very busy. I'm trying to get a web site built and up for the photography thing. I have it started and would love input on what everyone thinks. I'm going to be posting a price list and that type of stuff later today (still working on it).
This is one of my favorite shots from this fall and now the most important thing for this post the link: http://ryanbaxterphotography.ifp3.com/

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I'm sure that Jennifer is extremely happy with today's event. I was able to purchase the camera I have been talking about non-stop for months driving her nuts, I'm sure. I ordered it online so now I just have to wait for it to get here. I will update everyone once I get......I sense another model hunt coming soon.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"Tripp" the light fantastic

I had the honor of getting to be the "official" photographer for Richard Lee Carlson III (AKA Tripp) the son of Erin and Rick Carlson.
Erin works with Jennifer and saw my pictures and the request for models. She said that she had a real fresh face. I told her that I would love to take pictures of a newborn and the plan was hatched. No pun intended.

Shortly after she had the baby, she would call me and we would work out a time for the photo shoot. That day ended up being this past Sunday and it was a blast. I'm not going to post the pictures here. I will have them on my FlickR page as normal, but I want them to be the ones that are introducing Tripp to the world. Thanks to Erin and Rick for allowing me this opportunity and being so gracious.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

We live in a dangerous world

"We live in a dangerous world. And we need a president who understands the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001: that to protect America, we must stay on the offence, stop attacks before they happen, and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is John McCain."

Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson

This statement is so far from the truth that the truth can't see the light of day. We were attacked on 9/11 and we had every right as a nation to seek out and destroy the enemy that attacked us. Wait!! We didn't do that. We went to a nation that did not attack us and started a war that we are still in. Now, the Republicans are saying that "we must stay on the offence". Do you think we might piss off more people with this tactic? The republicans have become experts at fear mongering. We have to wake up and smell the damm coffee. We are in trouble and if we don't we will be in a much worse place in 4 years.

Ryan Baxter Photography