The Richardson Hotel

(Richardson Olmstead Complex)(Buffalo Psychiatric Center)(Hotel Henry Urban Resort)

444 Forest Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Status: Former Insane Asylum; Former 3 Star Hotel; 4 Star Hotel



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All Photos Courtesy of Jacky T


Built between 1872 and 1880 the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane was built in the Kirkbride – center administration building with 2 wings one for the male patients and one for the female patients with the most violent housed at the end of the wings – style and considered state of the art for it’s time.

Patients worked on the surrounding farm or at domestic tasks such as cooking or laundry and were encouraged to make use of the large landscaped surrounding grounds.

By the turn of the century the facility, designed for 600 patients, was averaging a population of 1,800 patients. Overcrowding was a constant problem for all asylums in North American and Europe at the time.

The name of institute was changed to Buffalo State Hospital early in the 20th century.

Previous to the invention of anti-psychotic drugs both insulin-shock and electro-shock therapies were frequently used on the mentally ill; especially those suffering from schizophrenia. These were  considered state of the art treatments at the time. Only a few pre-frontal lobotomies were done at this hospital.

 In 1965 the Nicholas J Strozzi building was opened with 520 beds and many of the patients were transferred out of the aging Kirkbride building to it. This building is still an active psychiatric center today working with both in and out patients - there are only 185 beds available now – this is where psychiatric patients from the general hospitals are transferred.

During the 1990’s the Kirkbride building was used less and less for treatment of the mentally ill and more and more as an administrative center. In 1997 the New York State Office of Mental Health released the building from it’s possessions.

In 2006 a society was formed to restore the old building which began with fencing it in and adding 24-hour security. In 2008 restoration and stabilization of the buildings began. In 2013 plans to convert the building into a hotel and museums were revealed.

In 2017 the Hotel Henry opened in the center of the Kirkbride Building with a conference center and 88 rooms. This was the beginning of a new life for the building and campus; that is until the Covid-19 Pandemic hit. In February of 2021 the hotel was forced to close down due to falling revenues because of the Pandemic.

According to the Hilton Hotels website – Hilton helped manage the Henry Hotel – the hotel will re-open in 2030.

Ghost Tours have been offered at this location but it is unclear whether they are being offered now that the hotel was closed.


Paranormal Activity

The former institution is said to be haunted by it’s former patients and staff.

I have been on the site personally and will list my experiences at the end of this section.

Reported Activity

The tunnels between the buildings are said to be the most haunted area of the complex.

Apparitions of former patients and staff; pale faces watching the windows; shadow figures; objects moving on their own; electrical issues; disembodied voices including hearing your name called; touches, tugs and pulls by unseen presences; unexplained sounds; cold spots; empathic sensations of unease, fear, sadness, anger and confusion; time slips; unexplained mists and feelings of being followed and watched.

Team Experiences

The hotel section seems to have been cleared out quite well leaving only a feeling of residual energy that hangs in the ether and it probably unnoticeable by most people.

The far eastern wing – the women’s most violent section – has energy so violent and disturbing one member could not even approach it. The Team Leader was, even, unable to completely shield themselves from it and developed a slight headache and nausea. The end of the other wing – the male section – was slightly disturbing but there was no comparison with the female wing.

Shadow figures moving in the buildings – usually peeking out of the window or moving very quickly and not visible for more than a second or two.

Disembodied voices and whispers including hearing our names multiple times.

Pale misty faces briefly seen in a couple of windows.

One brief touch on the right hand by something unseen.

Empathic feelings of unease and feelings of being watched and not wanted.