Video: ‘Guthrie at Greystone,’ the last word on a giant man and a giant hospital

Folk music aficionados know that a young Bob Dylan visited  Woody Guthrie at Greystone Park State Psychiatric Hospital in Morris Plains.

But what about the rest of Woody’s days at Greystone?

Woody Guthrie. Photo by Robin Carson.

Woody Guthrie. Photo by Robin Carson.

That’s the question posed by Guthrie at Greystone, a touching State of the Arts segment airing on NJTV at 8 pm on Jan. 26, 2014.

Woody, the author of This Land Is Your Land and 3,000 other songs, was picked up for vagrancy in Morristown in 1956, misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, and sent to Greystone.  There he passed some of his last years, deteriorating from Huntington’s disease.

Guthrie at Greystone documents a remarkable decade-long collaboration between Woody’s daughter, Nora Guthrie, and photographer Phil Buehler, whose visual chronicle of the abandoned hospital’s decline mirrors that of its most famous patient.

You can preview the piece, above. If the nonprofit Preserve Greystone fails to save the massive Kirkbride building from the wrecking ball, this video and Nora and Phil’s new book will be the last reminders of a poignant chapter in our nation’s musical –and medical– history.

Nora and Phil are launching their book, Woody Guthrie’s Wardy Forty: Greystone Park State Hospital Revisited, tonight, Jan. 23, at the Morris Museum in Morris Township. For tickets, contact Anna at

And keep an eye out Saturday Sunday on NJTV for a State of the Arts’ segment on The Minstrel, the folk series where the spirit of Woody Guthrie lives on, every Friday night, around the corner from the Morris Museum.

Our thanks to MG contributor Geri Silk for the heads-up.

The main building at Greystone, a former psychiatric hospital that treated patients for more than a century. Photo by Berit Ollestad

The main building at Greystone, a former psychiatric hospital that treated patients for more than a century. Singer Woody Guthrie was its most famous patient. Photo by Berit Ollestad



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  1. Dick Tighe says:

    In today’s environement, Woody Guthrrie would have been left on the street, after a short emergency room stay. All the places, like Greystone, have been closed. We really need to address this issue as the TV show, 60 Minutes, pointed out.

  2. Betsy Harvin says:

    What a gem. Everybody in Morristown and Morris Plains should see this. Send copies to churches? Great sermon substitute. Lots to think about and discuss. What a gem. Thanks so much.

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