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Right: Dixmont corridor in ruins
Winner of the 2004 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award: "Outstanding Magazine Format Broadcast"
Winner of the 2004 Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Award: "Best TV Special Report"
Winner of the 2004 Matrix Award from the Association of Women in Communications: "Best Television Feature"
In the 1840s, Dorothea Dix (left) of Massachusetts began a crusade for the mentally ill, working to improve conditions at institutions across the country. She personally selected the site for a state-of-the-art hospital just outside Pittsburgh, on a wooded hill overlooking the Ohio River. The hospital would be named for Dix.
Construction began in 1859, and Dixmont would become the crown jewel of Pittsburgh philanthropy. The first patients moved in during the Civil War and the hospital essentially became a self-sustaining city, operating through the years under various names including "The Western Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane at Dixmont."
Later renamed "Dixmont State Hospital," budget cuts and new philosophies on treatment for the mentally ill led to Dixmont's decline. After the last patients left in 1984, the hospital was abandoned and fell into ruin.
Just prior to the demolition, OnQ producer David Solomon and photographer/editor Paul Ruggieri got unprecedented access to the Dixmont property and its underground tunnels. Narrated by Andy Masich of Pittsburgh's Heinz History Center, this report chronicles the rise and fall of the landmark "insane asylum" through rare archival images and compelling interviews.
Right: Exploring underground tunnels at Dixmont
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Dixmont Article
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article
Ohio Trespassers - Dixmont
Kirkbride Buildings - Dixmont
Dixmont Archaelogical Survey, Christine Davis Consultants
Left: Dixmont patient
Right: Dixmont's Reed Hall