This recently completed monument is restoring dignity and respect to those buried at the Delaware State Hospital, a former psychiatric institution known to locals as ‘Farnhurst’.
Without names, dates of birth, or any reference to family, the hospital’s deceased were intially identified only by numbered white granite cubes laid in concentric circles in the Spiral Cemetery. Overgrown and mostly forgotten, many of the cubes became obscured by grass, further removing opportunities for recognition.
Whilst creating a garden on the hospital grounds, Faith Kuehn noticed the neglected cemetery and persuaded officials to create a monument to honour the dead.
In 2016 the first monument was erected, a low slug wall decorated with trencadis and tiles engraved with the names of the deceased. It was made by Creative Vision Factory, a non-profit run by Michael Kalmbach which “provides individuals on the behavioral health spectrum opportunities for self-expression, empowerment and recovery through the arts”.
A firing temperature mishap led to many of the tiles chipping and flaking off, and to a new shrine being created. Again employing the Creative Vision Factory to produce most of the tiles, with the rest made by Hope Center, a refuge for people without permanent homes that was opened last year by New Castle County, the new memorial is decorated in permanent ceramic floral tributes and the names of the 777 individuals buried nearby.
Not far from the memorial, new graves are still being dug for indigent men and women. These people will also be added to the list of names.
A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, November 2021.