WTHR tour reveals former Richmond hospital in ruins

Photos of the old Richmond hospital from 2014.

As you drive down Chester Boulevard in Richmond, Indiana, you can't help but notice a huge, abandoned building.

"It was a beautiful place," said Anna Allen. The Richmond resident has fond memories of the former Reid Hospital.

"I had a daughter born out there," she said.

Generations from several counties have stories and memories of the hospital, but now the place known for its hope and healing is in desperate need of a dose of its own medicine.

The hospital moved to a new campus in 2008, and sold the former location.

WTHR was recently granted a tour of the property by Richmond and Wayne County officials. There is no electricity to the building and no security officers.

Graffiti has been spray painted throughout the property.

Inside, you immediately notice a message spray painted on the wall paper that says, "I'm always here to rob you" with a smiley face.

That's just the beginning of the destruction.

In some areas, time has stood still. A board intact in an emergency room still lists the names of Angie, Melissa, and Phyllis as the nurses on duty from the hospital's last day in 2008.

But a majority of the building looks ransacked.

Pipes, wiring, HVAC work, lights, and ceiling tiles all dangle from the ceiling throughout much of the building, making it a dangerous obstacle course just to walk around.

"They took all of the copper and other valuable metals out," said Tony Foster, Executive Director with the Department of Metropolitan Development.

Much of that, officials say, is the work of thieves looking for items to scrap and sell. Some of it is from a developer who leaders say bit off more than they could chew.

"This went sour at the same time of the great recession," said Bruce Oesterling, the Building Commissioner for the City of Richmond.

Blueprints show what could have been senior living or apartments for the nearby IU East college.

Instead, officials say an east coast developer took off with valuable materials and left town. It's created not just an eyesore, but a sore on the city's resources, tying up police and firefighters.

"When we get a call we're sending five or six pieces of apparatus and a lot of men to come out and deal with it," said Richmond Fire Department Inspector Mike Davis.

Inside you can see the damage from previous fires in the auditorium.

"That's where you used to find a bunch of sleeping bags and makeshift sleeping areas," Davis said. "Some of them are destructive for destructions sake, some of them are to melt to get to the actual metals, and some of them are to keep warm."

With so many windows and no security, it's a nightmare to keep the building safe. Many full-length windows are broken and shattered. Only a few were boarded over, but Foster says previous owners just gave up trying to secure the building.

Police are constantly at the building.

"We've had probably close to 200," said Richmond Police Chief Kris Wolski. That's the number of runs to the hospital since it closed in 2008.

With no electricity to the sprawling campus, officers have had to respond in the dark with no working elevators to the multi-level building.

Those runs have even resulted in officers making surprising discoveries.

"Sometimes there have been people out here making their little clandestine rendezvous," Chief Wolski said.

So what's being done? There isn't a short answer.

A company called Spring Grove Development, LLC owns the property. It's listed as being led by east coast developers Bob Ciprietti and Ernesto Zamparini. Due to back taxes and building safety concerns, the city and county are stepping in to do something about the mess.

"The city will then see what action we can take to raise funds to demolish it," Foster said.

That's a last resort, with an estimate at more than $6 million to bring the buildings down.

Leaders hope the hospital can instead be sold.

"It's made out of steel and concrete so the bones of the building are still very much stable. Maybe we can find someone who'd be interested in just a portion of it and only a portion of it would have to be removed," Foster said.