PARSIPPANY — Hundreds of people, some who traveled from as far away as Grand Rapids, Michigan, converged in front of the historic Kirkbride Building today to protest the planned destruction of the massive former hospital, known as Greystone.
Preserve Greystone, the non-profit group which organized the rally, has been advocating against the buildings demise and has seen support for it’s group increase since the State of New Jersey made public that it would tear the building down at a cost of at least 35 million dollars, all at the taxpayers expense.
Attendees of the rally were a mix of old and young and included former Parsippany Mayors, Frank Priore and Mimi Letts. Also in attendance was former Parsippany Councilman Jonathan Nelson, Denville Mayor Ted Hussa, and Craftmans Farms trustee Nancy Willans.
“The State’s insistence that the building must be demolished is ludicrous, former Parsippany Mayor Frank Priore said. “It will cost the taxpayers $35 million to demolish it, but would take much less to preserve it. It has historic importance to not only Parsippany, but to Morris County, and the entire state as well. It’s disturbing to see very few elected officials coming out in support of saving this building.”
“Governor Christie likens tearing down the Kirkbride Building to tearing down the Berlin Wall,” former Parsippany Councilman Jonathan Nelson said. “But this building is not the Berlin Wall and Chris Christie is no Ronald Reagan.”
The enormous Second Empire Victorian style building is 675,00 square feet. At the base of this massive building was the alleged largest continuous foundation in the United States from the time it was built until it was surpassed by the Pentagon when it was constructed in 1943. The building has a characteristic linear arrangement, which was designed to the specifications of the “Kirkbride Plan”. The main building has a center section that was used for administrative purposes with three wings radiating out from the center, each about 140 feet long.
The building also holds cultural significance. It is where Bob Dylan as young musician traveled to meet folksinger Woody Guthrie, who was a patient at Greystone in the 1950s after he was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. Greystone was also a location that poet Allen Ginsberg wrote about in his epic poem “Howl.”
Also on hand was a large police presence consisting of the Morris County Park Police, including some mounted on horseback, Human Services Police, and Parsippany Police. A permit had been sought but denied to hold the rally, but the police were restrained and no incidents or arrests were made.