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About the Documentary

“Reimagining a Buffalo Landmark” is a WNED PBS original production that shares the 150-year history and the massive rehabilitation efforts of the Richardson Olmsted Campus – originally the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane.

With the buildings designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, this National Historic Landmark in Buffalo is an American architectural treasure. The program delves into its original purpose: to treat people with mental illness under the revolutionary, progressive philosophy of physician Thomas Story Kirkbride. It shows the devastating effect decades of neglect had on the buildings once the hospital closed, and it celebrates the efforts among preservationists, community leaders, and the public, to secure the necessary funding to begin reuse and rehabilitation efforts to transform the campus into a community asset for generations to come.

“Much like Buffalo itself, the Richardson Olmsted Campus has experienced a renaissance in recent years,” said Donald J. Boswell, President and CEO, Buffalo Toronto Public Media. “This documentary explains the origins of the buildings and campus, its slip into disuse and disrepair, and its reimagining by people dedicated to preserving its beauty for the betterment of its neighborhood and its city.”

In addition to the film, this companion website includes detailed information about the history of the building, the evolution of mental health treatment, and Henry Hobson Richardson, as well as bonus videos, historical photos, a timeline of the Richardson Olmsted Campus, and ready-to-use lesson plans for educators. The program will also available to watch on the website.

Richardson Olmsted Campus Executive Director Mark Mortenson said, “We are thrilled to partner with WNED to tell the full story of the Richardson Olmsted Campus from its time as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane to its rebirth over the last few years. Our campus has always been a source of fascination, both locally and nationally, and we’re excited to share our story with the community in this beautiful WNED documentary.”

Reimagining A Buffalo Landmark | A WNED PBS Original Production

Premiered April 12, 2019

Experts In the Program

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Reimagining a Buffalo Landmark is funded by the Peter C. Cornell Trust, The Zemsky Family and the Members of Buffalo Toronto Public Media.