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Upcoming Public Tour of Willard Asylum for the Insane

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updated 4/22/2016 

Willard Asylum for the Insane

In a nutshell Willard officially opened in 1869. By 1877  Willard, at 475 acres (1500 patients) was the largest asylum in the United States1 .  In 1995 Willard Psychiatric Center closed its doors, 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 once a year historical tours are permitted. Currently, there are no plans for any future tours. 

 Upcoming 2015 Public Tour of Willard Asylum for the Insane

Upcoming 2015 Public Tour of Willard Asylum for the Insane

The tours have been scheduled for Saturday, May 16th 2015. 

At 11 a.m. May 16 Lawrence Mocha (the Willard Grave digger) will be memorialized at the Willard Cemetery. 

  • Times have been confirmed and are 9 am and 1 pm. , they are three-hour tours of the former Former Willard Psychiatric Center
  • The cost of tour admission is $10 per person. Children under 10 years of age  are free. Proceeds from the event will benefit a local Child Care Center, an accredited not-for-profit daycare center in the Jackson Building, which once housed Willard’s School of Nursing and is also on the tour.
  • Parking is free.
  • Visitors should gather at Camp Edgemere to purchase tickets. There will be unlimited space, but once the tours begin no more tickets will be sold.
  • Some of the buildings that will be visited are: Elliot Hall, Brookside, Bleak House, Hadley Hall and the Mortuary. Visitors will also have a chance to visit Romulus Historical Society building on the grounds and the Willard Cemetery where 5,776 Willard patients were buried from 1870 to 2000.
  • A chicken barbecue will also be available at Camp Edgemere.
  • I can’t wait, I think it will be interesting!

Books about Willard

Links of interest

If you only check one of these links out  make it Willard Asylum Suitcases by Jon Crispin the photography is beautiful, and the glimpse into the lives of Willard residents intriguing.


What do you think? Would you go check out an old asylum? I would! I think the history alone would be fascinating, and there has to be a few good photo opportunities in a big old building like the ones at Willard!

6 Haunted Asylums You Can Actually Visit | The Lineup

Monday 7th of March 2016

[…] in 1869, Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane was once the largest asylum in the United States, and was in operation until 1995. Part of the […]

Bobbie Cadwell

Wednesday 22nd of July 2015

Ok... I know this is a little late. But, we were there for the early tour. We stood in line for a short time. We then got our tickets (which were bracelets). We then started our tour with the fire house. We visited each building. We even went in a building that we weren't supposed to (unbeknownst to us). That was the best part by the way. We had a good time. The tour could have been better. But, understand this... They got 800 people last year for the tour. They were expecting the same number of people this year. They were sooo overwhelmed. They tried really hard to accommodate. When it showed up on Facebook it really attracted many people. Also, there wasn't a fire...... it was steam from the water facility. They said they'd be much more prepared next year.


Tuesday 2nd of June 2015

I would really like to see this facility as my Grandfather died there in 1972. He suffered from Alzheimer's. I was only 15 then. I'm amazed that this "tour" could be scheduled and not be professionally planned. Any big event pre-sells tickets, plans group size and has hand-out literature, as needed. It also seems the security was not professional (or enough of them on-hand) either. From what I've read much of this was not done. I now live in Ohio, but I may be able to come out sometime during the year to see what I can see.


Sunday 24th of May 2015

This tour was such a disappointment. Our five family members traveled over two hours to go to it. We arrived at 11:30 am for the 1:00 tour. We passed hundreds of cars parked along the narrow road outside the grounds. We entered the grounds and asked a passer-by where to go for tickets. He said they were all sold out. What!! Unlimited tickets it said! We parked in the first space we found. A security guard told us where to go for tickets. We hiked a long way to Camp Edgemore but got our tickets. We waited in a large group for the tour to begin. No maps and no one seemed to know anything about the tour before hand. Finally, we were told to get in groups of 50 with a guide. Our group had over 100 and some people had no one checked or nor cared. Our guide was a spry lady who must have thought we were there to run a race. She ran us up and down the hills which was ridiculous. She got confused and led us to one building and then realized were to be somewhere else. So, off again, we ran again. Twice this happened. She read from her paper the description of the building we would enter. We were in the back of this large crowd and heard nothing. We went in the hospital which certainly wasn't the one used for the patients of long ago. The recreation building might have been a bit older but nothing to pertain to the real living conditions of the patients of past. The morgue, inside, looked old but the new skylights didn't correlate. The last building was the present children's center. I didn't even bother going in since obviously, again, it wouldn't show us what life was like long ago here. And that was it. They said we missed he firehall because of a ruckus with the 9:00 am tour. Who cared anyway? Some of the people on the 9:00 tour took it upon themselves to enter some of the actual, old buildings where the patients lived.....that we all had hoped to see. No way...they were off all bounds. What a disappointment. This was poorly organized and poorly delivered. I realize the volunteers were trying to do a good thing with this fund raiser. However, there was no direction or leadership. We would never return for another tour. I could see this much in some of our own buildings in our home town. Those people who were turned away missed nothing except for the time and effort they took to get here.


Sunday 17th of May 2015

I took the day off from work and drove an hour to sit in traffic for 45 minutes and then be told that they were sold out. The job of an events coordinator is to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for an event. I feel as if this was a failure on that person's part, I was told that they didn't expect this big of a turnout but if anyone had done their research they would know that social media will take a small event and make it huge. In addition to doing their homework they should consider pre-sale tickets online, set a number and that should alleviate some of the chaos that ensued. The fact that there was no parking for the people that were there on time is also an issue. I read that they had to purchase their tickets and then drive to another building, this should not have been the case with the amount of traffic issues already occurring. I feel as if this event is going to be attempted again that it might be a good idea to hire some more tour guides and stagger the tours from 9am - 1pm every hour, this would give the second tour guide an opportunity to keep an eye on the end of the first group as well to rid themselves of any potential trouble makers, and so on with the remaining tour guides. Please take this as constructive criticism and utilize some of these ideas to make an optimal experience for future tours. Although I am very disappointed that I was turned away from taking the tour I would consider going again. The fact that over $300,000 was turned away is a little sickening, what organization wouldn't be able to put that money to good use.