Monday, July 16, 2012

Butner, NC

My latest edition of "bicycling somewhere else" took me to the town of Butner, about 20 minutes northeast of Durham off I-85. Pretty much all I knew about Butner prior to Saturday's bike ride was that there's a federal prison there, and that it has kind of an interesing layout according to Google Maps.

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About that interesting layout: the town is rather low density, and there is no real "downtown" area. The residential part of town is actually pretty nice - the houses are moderately sized and in mostly good shape, and everyone owns a decent cut of land.

Why the interesting layout? Because according to Wikipedia, it's the former home of an Army base (and is thus likely a planned military town of sorts), and the town was actually managed by the state until 2007, when it was incorporated as its own town. So Butner is relatively new compared to other small North Carolina towns, which helps explain why it was in such good shape.

But once you get out of the nice residential area, things change a bit.

This is the Whitaker Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility, a.k.a. a mental hospital for adolescents. Fun! Seriously, this place looks like it's straight from a movie set. I could totally see a character in a movie being "admitted" here. I don't mean to trivialize the work that's going on at this place, it was actually kind of creepy.

Also in Butner is the Central Regional Hospital, which is a mental hospital for people of all ages. I missed that one, sadly.

Then, farther out of town...

Mostly, I just wanted to "check in" at the federal prison on Foursquare. But did you know that Butner is also home to the Polk Correctional Institution, a state prison for 19-25 year olds?

So Butner has two mental hospitals, a large federal prison complex, and a state prison. Sounds like a fun place to be, doesn't it?

You know, I think it might be fun to tour a mental hospital or prison. I might have gone on a field trip to the Duval County Jail when I was a kid, but if I did, I don't remember. I've seen these types of places so much on television, it would be interesting to see what an actual one looks like from the inside. (Provided I am free to return home at the end of the day, of course.)

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