Thousands Tour Old Main, Hundreds Turned Away

By Julia Rose

Published 08/26 2014 06:14PM

Updated 08/26 2014 06:20PM

More than 3,000 people from across the area lined up Monday evening for the chance to step inside the former Utica Lunatic Asylum. The turnout far exceeded expectations and although thousands got their tour, many were turned away.

It was unexpectedly one of the biggest events of the summer. Thousands came out to tour the former Utica Psychiatric Center known as Old Main. The last time the building was opened to the public hardly anyone showed up, so you can imagine the event coordinators' surprise.

"There were people wrapped all the way around the building, I couldn't believe it,” says Chris Sunderlin, a Trustee of the Landmark Society of Greater Utica.

For those who were able to make it in, they say it was certainly a sight to see.

"It was a unique experience, not many chances you get to go in an insane asylum in Utica,” says Utica College Student Zack Stevenson.

But for those who did not get inside, it was a disappointing evening.

"Didn’t make it in, very disappointed, since I’ve lived here all of my life, it's been an institution in this area for many years, we had family members who worked there, i just wanted to get in and see what the inside of the building actually looked like,” said Julie Orilio of Utica.

The Orilios were not alone in getting closed out of the event. Members of the Landmark Society say they're sorry and are working to hold another night of tours.

"We’d like to get it open as much as possible, as much as the State can allow," said Sunderlin.

Representatives from the Landmark Society also say they're pushing hard to turn Old Main into a museum. They say judging by the outcome Monday night, with thousands turning out, there would certainly be a lot of interest.

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