Monday, November 24, 2014

Jane & Missy, The Dolly Murderer

Following the unexplained and quite suspicious deaths of Jane Bewalski's friends she often played with in her New York apartment, local law enforcement interviewed little Jane.  According to their reports, little Miss Jane Bewalski had gone insane and blamed her doll, Missy for the deaths, blamed her dolly for outright murders.  She reportedly flung her doll out the window of her fifth floor apartment, while shouting, “Bad dolly! Naughty dolly!”. Subsequently, little Miss Jane Bewalski was taken to Bloomingdale Asylum to be treated for "hysteria". There she remained until her death of old age in 1968.  She never claimed anything other than Missy having full culpability of her playmates' murders.  We know exactly what happened to Little Jane, but what became of her dolly, Missy, we still don't know! The Bloomingdale Insane Asylum was a private hospital for the care of the mentally ill founded by New York Hospital. It occupied the land in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan where Columbia University is now located.  The road leading from the thriving city of New York in lower Manhattan to the asylum was called Bloomingdale Road in the nineteenth century, and is now called Broadway. The grounds of the asylum were elegantly laid out with walks and gardens. Farming and gardening were considered therapeutic, so there was a working farm with orchards, vegetable gardens, barns and pasture land.
In the 1880s, with the city expanding northward, the trustees of the New York Hospital began to sell parts of the Asylum's land to various institutions, including an orphan's asylum on the campus of what is now the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The trustees of Columbia College, now Columbia University, bought the bulk of the Bloomingdale Asylum property in 1892 and began planning the construction of a new campus.  Some of the property was also purchased by The Juilliard School where they then built their campus (which is now Manhattan School of Music). The Bloomingdale Asylum moved to a new campus in White Plains, New York.  It became known as the "Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic", and is now "New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester". The historical records of the Bloomingdale Asylum are housed in the Medical Center Archives of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. The university occupied several buildings forming the old asylum in the early years. The last building erected on the Bloomingdale Asylum's Morningside Heights campus was the Macy Villa, a gabled, brick building with white trim, which was designed by architect Ralph Townsend to resemble a private home for the comfort of wealthy gentlemen afflicted with mental illnesses, and donated by William H. Macy in 1885. It is the only building from the old asylum that survives.  It has had a number of uses over the years, but is now known as Buell Hall and houses La Maison Fran├žaise.