At ceremonies held in Lexington on Friday to remember an estimated 4,400 patients at Eastern State Hospital who were buried on the mental hospital's grounds years ago, 4,400 small cards fashioned into a necklace represented 4,400 apologies for what some people say was a disregard for the bodies.
"It's recognizing an injustice that was done to those who were buried in the cemetery, and that is specifically the fact that many people there have been reburied at least three times, ashes are mixed and it is essentially a mass grave," said Bruce Burris, co-owner of Latitude Artist Community, which led the events.
"We're not blaming anyone for that. We are just acknowledging it," Burris said.
According to its blog, Latitude Artist Community serves all people, but especially "those thought by some to have a disability," by creating inclusive community interactions.
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A cemetery remains at Eastern State. The hospital housed more than 2,000 patients at its peak in the 1940.
Eastern State, at West Fourth Street and Newtown Pike, began admitting patients in 1824, and about 4,400 residents are thought to have been buried on the grounds. The burials occurred over more than 100 years.
Over the past few weeks, Latitude artists worked to create 4,400 small cards, each bearing an artist's thumbprint. The cards were strung to resemble a necklace, Burris said.
At Eastern State Hospital Cemetery and the Lexington Public Library courtyard downtown Friday, Erin Fitzgerald silently counted and acknowledged each card on the necklace.
Burris estimated that a total of 50 people attended the two events.
Fitzgerald said she wasn't expecting a big audience.
"The important thing is that the ritual be done, and that it be reverent and meaningful," she said.
Eastern State agreed in 2008 to move from Newtown Pike to a new complex at the University of Kentucky's Coldstream Research campus. Under the agreement, BCTC will move from UK's campus on Cooper Drive to Eastern State's location. The hospital has not yet moved to its new home.