Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Abandonment Issues: Sidbrook Private Hospital

Sidbrook Private Hospital
(Photo found online, courtesy of Cobourg Public Library. Unknown date.)

1857 Villa

Sidbrook Hospital

This Victorian villa was built in 1857 as a two-storey summer house for the Cobourg Railway Director. Modifications were made to the house in 1867, including roof alterations and the addition of the west wing. The third floor was added in 1900, along with the Beau-arts Corinthian portico with balcony and Corinthian porch.

It wasn't until 1952, when the 95 year old building became a private hospital.

50 years later, in 2002, Sidbrook Private Hospital closed its doors.

On this day in 2011, as I approached the 154 year old abandoned heritage site, I had other things on my mind. The tall green fence around Brookside Youth Centre across the street was giving me flashbacks. I was a different person once, I hated myself and hated the world and my actions reflected that. I spent a substantial amount of my teenage years incarcerated in maximum and medium security young offender facilities across Ontario. I did two or three stints in Brookside in the early-mid nineties and it was very much still on my mind as I explored the abandoned villa slash hospital across the road. I peeked out the third floor windows at the green fence, trying to remain hidden from view, but attempting to spot Johnson House. The kid in the cell seemed so distant to the middle-aged man in the abandoned hospital across the street. If I could only talk to him, I used to think. Now I wouldn't say a word, cause I know he eventually finds his way.

I went up the tight servants staircase, then down to the pitch black basement. The woodwork in the foyer and main staircase was absolutely beautiful, and I stood there silently for a minute or two. A dozen or so pigeons, grackles and sparrows were singing upstairs. I ascended the broad staircase and crept down the winding hall towards the bathtub, which sat in the middle of the room at the end of the hall. It was a song of urgency and panic that these birds were singing. Flapping their wings, whizzing by my head and thudding into windows in an attempt at an escape. A break and exit, if you will. I could relate to this trapped feeling, this sense of urgency and panic. A short time later, I freely exited the building of my own will, and left all of that shit behind me.

Exploring this location was a triumphant and rewarding experience, and I'm happy to be able to share it with you.

thats not a foyer, this is a foyer!

the bottle

heritage woodwork

Sidbrook foyer

pillars of the community

go green

The Holy Liable

no i shouldn't crop it, its fine the way it is.

golden arch

walk the planks


heritage tub

beautiful decay

a pigeon and grackle P.O.E.

over a dozen birds were trapped inside, flapping, chirping, calling and smashing into windows.

pink rooms galore

coming out of the closet


floor boreds

everybody loves rays of light

choose a door, any door...

zoom, click, flash in the blackness.

basement stares

servants staircase

servants staircase

smurf villa

going down on an 1857 villa

heritage site

top of the world ma!

Beau-arts Corinthian portico with balcony and one-storey Corinthian porch added in 1900

A health spa was rumoured to be taking over the building, but that never materialized. It is now rumoured that the building may be re-purposed into 6 condos.

*** UPDATE *** October 15, 2013 ***

On September 1st, 2013, well over two years after our first visit, we once again found our way inside. It is truly a shame that this building continues to deteriorate and no signs of progress have emerged as far as saving this beautiful historic structure. The City of Cobourg is continually ordering the property owner to reseal the building and boards now cover many of the windows on all three floors. The decay has only gotten worse within these walls.

With not a lot of light creeping in, we turned the camera on each other and had some fun taking portraits.

















Hopefully this building will be saved before it is too late, but that is looking less and less likely as time passes.

click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES


Anonymous said...

Such a crying shame. Each picture reminds me of some of the patients there in the late 60's. The stove, where we cooked red river cereal and porridge and cream of wheat for breakfast for everyone. The pink room, Mrs. Jacques. Our little princess. So sad that so many of them never received visitors.

Anonymous said...

The two guys that own the building also ruined other historical properties in Cobourg. They had wonderful intentions of making them into spas and such but instead only left them to ruin. Evan Karras and Robin de Groot (TV home decorating personality, ironically) are the two owners responsible. Looking at these pictures, it is shocking how quickly the inside deteriorates.
Lots of sadness in such a beautiful building.

Anonymous said...

I have tears....my mom worked here for many years. If she was still alive she would be disgusted with how it has been left now. She worked there til the day it closed. It really saddens me to see it like this. I use to go in and all over that place with my mom, visiting with patients. I can still see a lot of them in my mind, and will forever remember them. Especially the ones that seemed to be just dumped there!!! I just don't know how you can just kick your own family to the curb!!! I hope someone out there can do something with this beautiful piece of heritage.

Anonymous said...

The photos are excellent, but show a most-depressing site. Unfortunately, Sidbrook is at a state now that it should be torn down - I understand the foundation has even shifted and would have to be reconstructed - the cost to restore this building to any significance, even as condos, is probably $2Million+, not worth it!

The town does not have this type of money to reclaim it as a heritage site and a donation drive is misguided, given that so many of the town's citizens are facing tough times and the town is at low ebb - money needs to be spent on major economic rebuilding and this means big tax dollars, better spent than on a DOA Sidbrook. The wrecking ball is Sidbrook's best fate . . . or perhaps as a government-sanctioned medical grow-op (looks like one now) - let her go with pride - Sad, but true!

Unknown said...

Thank you all very much for your comments. I'm speechless.

Steve said...

I would love to have this place...What a shame that this could happen....Just like the old Baltimore Hotel...Down buy the beach,Buy the time somebody cares to do anything, it to late.... Well like they say......out wiht the old and in with the new....WHAT A SHAME....Steve

Anonymous said...

Your photos are exquisite and depict neglect, deterioration and abandonment on various levels. It was a lovely building with interesting bones. Cobourg has a few members that hold dear the architectural heritage within it's district, unfortunately money and time are not a priority for projects as such as the town economically implodes. With luck, the influx of new eyes and lifestyles from new residents will breathe life into such gems as Sidbrook...fingers crossed. again... thank you for your lovely photos.

Janet Walker said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful post. It was my grandmother who purchased this property in 1952 and restored it to some of its' former glory. She operated it a as a private chronic care hospital until her retirement.

As a child we had an apartment on the 3rd floor. One of the rooms shown was my bedroom. We used to take great delight in sliding down those beautiful wooden bannisters.

My grandfather, a painter by trade, had a passion for gardening so the exterior and grounds were in immaculate condition.

And as a teenager I cooked on that very stove for my part-time and summer job. Lunch and dinner for 38 patients.

I have driven by many times in the years since and it saddens me to see the decline. I hope someone cares enough to restore it. I know the cost may be prohibitive but I can't agree with those who suggest the wrecking ball is the answer...

Unknown said...

Thank you for that comment Janet, I really appreciate you sharing that. Fascinating to say the least. I also hope that someone invests in saving this magnificent building.

Anonymous said...

The building has finally been sold..let's see what happens now..here's hoping!!!!! There is a rare magnolia tree on the property which cannot be moved according to this article

Thank you Janet for sharing your memories..and thank YOU, Jerm IX for sharing this in the first place - I had never seen the inside, just heard of all the beautiful woodwork, but it was ALWAYS the building I was going to buy if I ever won the lottery.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother spent several very unhappy years in this place. She had he wrist broken by a nurse here. Looking at these pictures makes me very sad. I have only a couple of photos of her in the place when she lived there. Such a shame all around.

TL Hill said...

Thank you so much for posting the pictues of the inside. I have driven by this house for years and often wondered, day dreamed actually what the inside looked like. My mind wanders now at the endless possiblilites this beautiful house offers. I do wish I could win the lottery and buy this house and bring it back to its old glory. We lose to much of ourselves and our heritage these days in the fast pace of life. Dare to dream. =)

Unknown said...

I love all the comments. Thank you all.

Unknown said...

That is a wonderful building, I agree the woodwork in the foyer and on the main staircase is just stunning. I cannot believe that any normal person would let a beautiful mansion sized house like that deteriorate so badly (it wouldn't have cost him much to re-shingle the roof or patch it anyway). If the wrecking ball comes to it I hope someone salvages the woodwork from the house; it would be a shame to see such fine detailed pieces like that go to waste.

Anonymous said...

The photos where of high standards but devastating to see such state of disaster to a historical residence of grand architecture. It is a shame that there seems to be no hope to restore it & it is left to fall prey to more fatalities.

miohmio said...

Jerm, your blog and photos on this spectacular place are wonderful. I've not been to Cobourg before and spotted this building driving along looking for the library. Holy cow, this place is just stunning and it's so devastatingly sad to see such beautiful history left to the sands of timeful neglect. I also hope that someday it can be saved, but it's not sounding or looking hopeful. Thank you for your information and beautiful photos.

Pamela Gall said...

Your photos & detailed story tell of a wonderful historic home in beautiful Cobourg. It saddens me that so many of these magnificent homes have disappeared. It would give so much meaning to the town if more of these homes could be restored instead of building new condos or retirement homes. It's a shame to see our history defaced. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

Anonymous said...

I too am saddened each time I go to Cobourg and see what once was a magnificent home in such ruin..heartbreaking..I am one for preserving buildings like this not destroying ,it is part of our history.I am appalled that people would purchase & leave it to decay like this.Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos with us.

Kevin Kraushar said...

Tis a sad day to see these photos of this great building falling into disarray...This was where my grandfather spent the last 3 years of his life in the mid 90's...I used to come visit him once a week so I spent quite a bit of time in the old building...Seeing these photos flooded me with memories of him as this was where he also passed away...I hope they bring the building
back to her old glory again and save the building as it is a beautiful piece of architecture and should be saved for future generations to admire. Thanks for trying to open peoples eyes to the state of dis-repair of the building. Maybe some will see this and start a campaign to bring it back to its former glory.

Anonymous said...

my mom worked here for 5 years ..sad

Unknown said...

Wow! Don't really remember but my great grandmother passed away there in 1961.

Anonymous said...

I heard the place is haunted, is that true?

Anonymous said...

I remember going in here one time it was boarded up. The place was breathtaking. I couldn't image all the things those walls had seen. I don't know if you seen the stain glass door (if it was still there / in-tact), but that was beautiful as well.
It really saddens me seeing this place going to ruins day by day. Such a beautiful place left to rot.

Anonymous said...

My mother worked at sidbrook for 13 years which overlaid my child hood I grew up visiting my kom in that beatiful palace as I valled it playing board gamea with patients ans even getting whheelchair ride its a shamw as eaxh year passes to see the buikding just age

Anonymous said...

historical buildings are being torn down because of the economy, land expandsion and modernizing. it is a shame because of towns are losing its history. the cadillac hotel in blenheim was a perfect example, the lot just lays empty now.

Anonymous said...

Since the building is falling into such a state of disrepair and the owners are doing nothing to prevent this, why dont they rent it out to movie companies for "horror films"? This way they could use the funds to help preserve this beautiful building and since Cobourg had been getting into the movie biz lately it would be a win win!
It is truly a shame that these two individuals decided that since they do not live in our city they can just let things go to ruin due to their own financial negligence.The town should re possess the buiding.

Unknown said...

Sad...but it would take a lot of money and a vision.

Anonymous said...

Sad yes but only someone with a lot of money to throw it's way will save it. Lots have tried with good intentions not realizing the costs involved. If left to long the structure will deteriorate and then it will be torn down. If the historical society who make things so hard for them to recover this really cared they would buy it and do it them selves.

Anonymous said...

I went in this summer through a borded up window that was ripped off, I took some pictures and ive been facinated with the building. I took some newspapers that were in the pink room that dated back to the 80s, its curently a $10,000 fine if you trespass. Its a shame this bulding is being neglected in this way.

Unknown said...

These are all tax write offs for the owners.