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both of whom, from different positions, saw a light moving from room to room but a short time previous to the alarm.
The pecuniary loss, as nearly as can be estimated, is $22,000. Of the material selected from the ruins to be used in reconstruction, a portion, perhaps, may prove unfit. for the purpose, but we think that the sum named will fully cover the loss. In reviewing this accident, we feel it our duty to call the attention of the Legislature to the increased risk of loss and damage to the Asylum, incurred by the delay in its completion. A distinguished writer on "Insurance" remarks, that "unfinished buildings, even of fire-proof construction, are never free from danger, and that Insurance rates should, in such cases, be proportionably higher."
It is now nearly five years since the Asylum was commenced, and any one who has had experience in building, even to the extent of a farm-house, knows that the policy of making small appropriations at long intervals, is anything but an economical one. No private individual or corporation could afford to adopt such a policy. The course hitherto pursued is certainly not a judicious one. A sense of duty and justice compels every thinking man in the State to say that the Asylum should be completed, and the miserable condition of four hundred insane fellow creatures scattered all about us, many in chains and cells, demands its immediate opening. What advantage can there be in delay?
Facts which came to our knowledge almost immediately after entering upon our official duties, convinced us that no time should be lost in preparing at least a part of the Institution for the reception of patients. Letters were constantly coming to us from the friends of insane persons in almost every county, containing sad tales of the trials and anxieties and dangers growing out of the affliction which had befallen them, all bearing the same inquiry"When will the Asylum be ready for patients?"
County Superintendents of the Poor, also forwarded communications, representing the serious inconveniences under which they labored in endeavoring to provide for the insane committed to their charge. They had found, that even with every facility they possessed, they could do nothing to cure them, and but little to better their condi tion. None were discharged restored, a few occasionally wandered away, and death came to the relief of more or less each year, and still the number was gradually increas ing. They were anxious to know if something could not be done to lessen this accumulating amount of misery and taxation.
We, therefore, felt it obligatory upon us to do all in our power to meet this necessity, and shaped our course accordingly. The fourth section of the Act under which we were appointed, invests us with the "control and management of the Asylum, and all its affairs in as full and ample manner as the existing Board of Trustees." On refering to the original statute establishing the Institution, we find its early opening evidently anticipated, and with this special view, certain powers and duties were delegated to that Board which, by the Act passed at the last session of the Legisla ture, were transmitted to us.
Until the occurence of the accident of February 11th. every thing was favorable to the attainment of the end to which we were impelled by our duty, both as almoners of the charity of our State, and as citizens whose eyes had been opened to the fearful extent of the sufferings they were expected to contribute in alleviating. By the loss of the center building, very serious obstacles were interposed to the carrying into effect of our plans for the early open. ing of the Institution. We found that the unexpended balance of the appropriation would only suffice to replace the loss, and that the Asylum would be no farther advan ced, as far as the treatment of patients is concerned, than it was at the commencement of the year. The same bal
nce would also finish the wing for the reception of pa ients, but leave the officers unprovided for, and in the ab. ence of all arrangements for cooking, laundry work, &c., he Asylum could not even then be used. At this juncure, we directed the Acting Commissioner to communicate vith the Medical Superintendent, in regard to the feasi›ility of arranging apartments for the officers in some porion of the wing, and preparing for the treatment of at east a limited number of patients.
We knew very well how essential the center building was to the convenient and advantageous operation of the Institution. It was planned to fulfil certain purposes, and of course no other porion of the house could be made to answer those purposes as well. We were aware, also, of the many disadvantages under which the Medical Superintendent would labor in carrying on a partially finished Asylum, even with the center building; and we desired to remove as many of the obstacles to its successful management as we possibly could. At the same time, we felt that any further delay in its opening should be no fault of ours.
Dr. Van Deusen's reply was to the effect, that the first and second floors of the first transverse division would af ford temporary quarters for the officers, and that its third floor, and the portions of the wing to the left of it, would accommodate about ninety patients of one sex; that the re-construction of the center building, and the erection of the Chapel containing the general kitchen, and the Infirmary, would render the first longitudinal division, with accommodations for fifty-four additional patients, also available; and thus, that one hundred and forty-four, about half of each sex, could be treated with a fair degree of advantage.
This plan was adopted, as the one which the interests of the insane and the State most imperatively demanded, and the balance of the appropriation has been expended ac
cordingly. We now earnestly recommend to the Legisla ture that it be carried into immediate and full effect.
During the past season, all labor about the Institution has been directed with a special view to the completion of the portions as above designated. To this end, there has been required a large outlay for purposes other than those for erection simply. Gas-pipes, for instance, had to be laid throughout the house previous to the flooring, and the attic tanks procured and rivited before the upper ceilings were plastered. All work of this kind has been well and permanently done, and not a single cent expended for temporary fixtures.
The tanks, three in number, constructed of the best Eng lish boiler-iron, three-sixteenths of an inch in thickness, are placed in the attics of the three-story divisions. Their combined capacity is about nine thousand gallons. These will be supplied by means of a force-pump from the stream in the rear of the Institution. To serve in case of emer gency and accident, two large cisterns have also been built in convenient and accessible locations in the rear yards. They are of brick, laid in water-lime, thirty feet long. eight feet wide, and seven and a half feet deep. Their combined capacity is twenty-seven thousand gallons, and they will be supplied from the roofs. A main sewer, about four hundred feet in length, designed to serve the pur poses of the entire Institution, has been laid in the ravine in front of the centre building. The branch sewers of the south wing have also been finished and put in connection with the main trunk. They are furnished throughout with the most approved traps, constructed of the very best ma terial, and in the most durable manner.
In the rear of the center building, there has been erected a one story building, one hundred and seventy-eight feet long and twenty feet wide. In the extreme rear is the room for the reception of the boilers to be used in gene rating steam for laundry and cooking purposes, and for s
warming the Institution. It contains, also, an engine, laundry, drying and ironing rooms, and a carpenter's shop. Its external and division walls are of brick. The roof is covered with slate laid in mortar, and ventilating towers with louvre sides, are placed over all the rooms where such provision was required. A large brick flue extends from the boiler to the fan-room, in the extreme front, for the passage of the steam mains and service pipes. An underground air-duct, eight feet wide and two hundred and twenty feet long, has also been constructed, to connect the fan-room with the distributing chambers, beneath the building.
Messrs. Nason & Dodge, to whom our predecessors awarded the contract for heating and ventilating the Institution, are now engaged in putting in as much of the apparatus as will be required for warming the portions of the building we propose to occupy. Upon this contract there will soon be due $5,000, less twenty per cent., reserved in accordance with the requirements of the statute. The proportionate expense of warming the portions designated is, of course, greater than the entire contract would seem to require. This apparent disproportion is explained by the fact that the steam pump, mains, &c., are of the full size which will be required for the whole building. Here, as elsewhere, we have studiously avoided all expenditures for temporary fixtures and expedients.
The interests of the State, in every point of view, would undoubtedly have been far better subserved had the first appropriation been sufficient to construct the entire Institution. Contracts for labor, material and transportation, could obviously have been made on more advantageous terms. The Asylum would now have been in operation, and we might even in this report have been able to present a gratifying account of high purposes fulfilled, of great good accomplished, of misery alleviated, of reason restored, and of afflicted fellow creatures returned to them