Woody Guthrie, one of America’s most famous folksingers, spent time at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris Plains. In 1956, he was picked up for vagrancy and committed to Greystone because he was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. He actually had Huntington’s disease, a hereditary disorder his mother had had as well. Huntingyon’s made it increasingly difficult for him to control his movements, and he died of it in 1967 at age 55. The story of Guthrie’s time at Greystone is told in a new book, “Woody Guthrie’s Wardy Forty: Greystone Park State Hospital Revisited” by Phillip Buehler, in collaboration with Nora Guthrie and the Woody Guthrie Archives. It’s a story told in photographs of Greystone’s ruins, family pictures, interviews, and other documents.
On the show airing January 26, State of the Arts meets Phil Buehler and Nora Guthrie, plus takes a visit to Greystone – which the state is threatening to tear down any day now. There will be a book launch reception and talk on Thursday, January 23 at the Morris Museum: contact Anna at for more information.
“Ward 40, Main Building.” Photograph by Phillip Buehler.