State Lunatic Asylum for Insane Convicts, Auburn

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State Lunatic Asylum for Insane Convicts, Auburn
Established 1857
Opened 1859
Closed 1893
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Single Building
Location Auburn, NY
Alternate Names
  • Auburn Asylum


Constructed due to a growing reform movement to house mentally ill inmates separately from other inmates. It was built next to the Auburn State Prison, but surrounded by a 12 foot high wall. The Auburn Asylum was created to hold convicted and sentenced persons who had become mentally ill. But this did not resolve the problem. Civil commitments, including persons not convicted by reason of insanity, were still the responsibility of the Utica State Hospital. In addition, many of the indicted but unsentenced persons were extremely deluded and dangerous, and managing them was as difficult and hazardous as the custody of convicted insane persons.

Utica State Hospital gradually pressed for authority to transfer such persons to the Auburn Asylum, and Auburn soon was overcrowded with the convicted and unconvicted of both sexes. In 1892, a new prison mental hospital was built at Matteawan and soon after, in 1899, another was in place at Dannemora.