St Josephs Retreat

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St. Joseph's Retreat
Construction Began 1883
Demolished 1963
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Kirkbride Plan
Location Dearborn, MI
Alternate Names
  • St. Joseph's Sanatorium
  • Michigan Retreat for the Insane


The St. Joseph's Retreat was established in 1860 as the Michigan State Retreat. This was Michigan's first private mental institution, and allegedly catered mostly to the affluent. It was started by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. In 1855 the Sisters of St. Mary's Hospital began to care for the mentally ill, who had formerly been confined to prisons or the county poor house. In 1860, they opened a seperate facility named the Michigan State Retreat, which was incorporated in 1883 as St. Joseph's Retreat. The original building stood on 140 acres overlooking the Rouge River. It was later enlarged to house 400 patients. At first these were Civil War veterans, and later alcoholics, drug addicts, and other "incurables." The first telephone installed in Dearborn was at the Retreat in 1889.

It was closed and demolished in 1963. Dearborn High School was built on land that formerly belonged to the Retreat. A historic plaque stands at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Outer Drive, marking the site.

Notably, the hospital was designed along the same lines as the other Kirkbrides within the state. Also Florida state legislator and U.S. Senator Charles Wm. Jones (1834 - 1897) died in the hospital on October 11, 1897.

Images of St. Joseph's Retreat[edit]