First, I would like to point out I have no affiliation with the Willard Tour, or it’s organizers, nor am I a spokesperson for the event, but I have been notified by the executive director of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Child Care Center that there will not be a tour of the former Willard Asylum For the Insane
In 2014, after reading, What She Left Behind I started researching the Willard Asylum For the Insane, which closed its doors in 1995. Many of the buildings on the 425-acre campus are vacant, and a few are condemned, but a portion of the campus is a New York State Department of Corrections rehabilitation facility for inmates. Obviously, because of the New York State Department of Corrections facility, Willard is usually off-limits to the public, but while doing my research I learned once a year historical tours are permitted.
My mother and I went to the 2014 tour, and had an awesome morning, with a fabulous group of people, we toured the grounds and learned the history of the buildings. I shared it all here in a series of blog posts. I was honestly surprised at the interest these posts generated. I was often asked over the course 2014 if I could share the details of any future tours, and I did.
2015 was the seventh year of the Willard tour, normally a couple hundred people show up for the tour, but word spread on social media and organizers estimated more than 2,500 people tried to gain admittance. Crowds completely overwhelmed the fundraiser and chaos ensued, the roads to Willard had to be shut down by state troopers, and the tour was canceled. The organizers did their best to accommodate as many people as they could, but some were turned away.
This was clearly a much different experience than I had in 2014. I don’t think anyone was expecting the massive turnout to the tour that showed up last May.
The announcement that there will be no tour this year, while not surprising is still disappointing.