From Asylum Projects
Both the Fergus Falls
Kirkbride buildings are in danger of being partially or completely demolished.
Please click on the link above for more information and to see how you can help.
The mission of this site is to archive both historical and current information on asylums across the United States and around the world.
This site is dedicated to the history of asylums in all forms. The term of asylum is applied to not only what is commonly thought of: mental hospitals, but can also be applied to sanatoriums, state training schools, reform schools, almshouses, and orphanages. These institutions have and continue to play a major part in today's society.
Everyone throughout the United States and in many other countries has in one way or another felt the touch of these institutions. These places have both directly and indirectly affected people and their families. They have shaped lives and created many popular myths about them.
With all that in mind, this site was created to help in the historical research of any institutions that can be classified as an asylum. It was created for both serious researchers, those who are doing genealogical research, and people with an interest in asylums.
Featured Article Of The Week
Crichton Royal Hospital
In February 1834 forty acres of the Mountainhall Estate at Hillhead were purchased for almost £5,000 by the Crichton Trust, which was reduced to three members that same month with the death of John Crichton. An eminent Scottish Architect, Mr. William Burn of Edinburgh, was invited to draw up plans for the new asylum. Mr. Burn had designed Murray Royal Asylum at Perth and also the present Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh; his local works included Craigielands at Beattock and several churches in the South West, for instance Morton Church at Thornhill.
By the mid 1830's the Crichton Trust reserves would not permit of the building of Burn's entire plan which was composed of two linked Greek crosses. The trio of Trustees gave approval to the erection of just over half of the original plan, that is the northern portion of the present building known as Crichton Hall, which at the outset was called the Crichton Institution. On 20th June 1835 Mrs. Crichton delivered her prayer of blessing for the building which was soon to take shape.
Two oil paintings in the hospital's possession exhibit interesting features of the design of the asylum. One depicts the buildings as they were designed by William Burn - not as they were executed - that is, the whole main building with its identical twin towers, an elaborate central dome, and a high wall running round the periphery. The service buildings which included laundry, stables, stores, and dung heap are also shown; not surprisingly this range of buildings was not permitted to 'grace' the front (western) aspect for long, and after other sites were found for them they were demolished in 1857. Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, when the general public believed that the insane and paupers could be rehabilitated into productive citizens, the Ohio Legislature gave authorization to county commissioners to establish county "poor houses." The Athens County Home
, formerly known as the Athens County Infirmary, opened on this site in 1857 to provide care for indigent citizens of Athens County. When fire destroyed the original building in 1903, a new building was constructed from 1904-1905, designed with the capacity to house up to one hundred people. When it was built, it was considered to be one of the finest and most modern charitable institutions of its time.
Upcoming Events Calendar
Asylum News (news you can edit!)
June 3, 2013 Closing of Dorothea Dix Hospital marks failure of state reforms
- On Dix Hill, the cold December stillness only serves to reinforce the feeling of abandonment. These splendid, rolling grounds, overlooking the center of Raleigh from the south, were occupied not so long ago by a state psychiatric hospital established in 1848 that had grown to serve a patient population of 3,000. The staff, working around the clock seven days a week, numbered two or three times that many. A working farm comprised the back 1,300 acres. It's gone now, turned (most of it) into the new Centennial Campus for N.C. State University. Historic Dorothea Dix Hospital, which in 1974 comprised 282 buildings on 2,354 acres of land, according to state records, has since been reduced to 306 acres of hospital property and 40 buildings, many of which are empty or half-empty. Its patient count is down to fewer than 160 and dropping fast. It would be a ghost town except for the 1,400 officials and staff of the Department of Health and Human Services spread thinly in 24 of the remaining buildings. If and when Dix closes, their presence may serve as a reminder that North Carolina was once a leader in mental health though, after a decade of "reforms," it no longer is.
June 2,2013 Idaho state hospital installs headstones
- An effort to place headstones on the graves of former patients at State Hospital South in southeastern Idaho is moving forward with another 120 set in the cemetery that holds more than 1,000 people. The Idaho State Journal reported that hospital staff, residents and others took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the State Hospital South Cemetery on Tuesday. The 127-year-old hospital previously called the Idaho Insane Asylum once housed patients for years, or until they died. Some of the patients underwent lobotomies and other early procedures in attempts to help sufferers of mental illnesses that were poorly understood at the time.
June 1, 2013 Tragic chapter of Crownsville State Hospital's legacy
- One image shows African-Americans lounging on the grass on Family Day; in another photo, obviously staged, nurses attend to a smiling patient dressed in a coat and tie. Other snapshots show an adult chained to a wall, a child with her frail arms strapped to a chair, men crammed into a windowless dorm room. This was life at what became known as Crownsville State Hospital, now a group of buildings boarded up and crumbling on Generals Highway.
May 6, 2013 Napa State Hospital to get a history of its very own
- Napa State Hospital, once as defining a symbol of Napa as wine, is the subject of a planned book that will capture its dramatic history in photos and personal reminiscences. The author, archivist Patricia Prestinary, is asking the community to share photos, particularly from the 1970s and ’80s, that capture hospital life before the facility was turned into a medium-security psychiatric facility.
April 18, 2013 Our Legacy: Remembering Crownsville State Hospital
- They arrived by train to build the Crownsville State Hospital for the Negro Insane where most would live out their lives until death. In death some went home to be buried with family, some were sent to the University of Maryland Medical School, cadavers for young medical students to study, and others sustained autopsies at Crownsville State Hospital and were buried with numbers on their headstones at the end of Farm Road.
April 2, 2013 Abandoned Henryton hospital slated for demolition
- Perched on a wooded bluff in rural southeastern Carroll County, the old Henryton State Hospital bears silent witness to the ravages of decades of neglect and vandalism. First opened in 1923, the 18-building complex that once housed the sick and handicapped now appears beyond hope of recovery itself. Windows gape. Trees reach to the sky through roofs that have caved in or burned. Graffiti and vines cover stucco and brick walls. Broken glass and beer cans litter the ground, along with debris from the crumbling structures. The Henryton complex near Marriottsville, closed since 1985, has deteriorated over the years from white elephant to potentially dangerous nuisance. Worried that someone is going to get hurt, local officials have pressed the state to demolish it, and now the end may be near, with a state official vowing to try to start work in May.
March 22, 2013 Was closing the Rochester State Hospital a good idea?
- Three decades ago the Rochester State Hospital closed its doors to patients living with mental illness, aspart of an effort to reintegrate patients into the community. Backers of the move thought closing the hospital would encourage services to help patients live independently, improve their quality of life and save money.
March 11, 2013 Former mental hospital, historic buildings' fate undecided
- As their fate hangs in the balance, the historic buildings still standing at the former Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital will be the subject of a presentation to the Mount Tabor Historical Society on Thursday. Preserve Greystone, a nonprofit group, will lead the discussion on whether to refurbish or demolish the structures at 7 p.m. at The Bethel, in the Trinity Park section of Mount Tabor. Meanwhile, the draft of a long-awaited feasibility study on Greystone is in the hands of officials in the state Treasury Department, and could soon be released to the public.
March 15, 2013 Local photographer documents Fulton State Hospital ahead of bond issue
- While Fulton State Hospital fights to pass a bond issue to construct new buildings for the aging mental health facility, Craig Chapman is working to preserve it. Chapman doesn’t wish to stop the bulldozers that hospital administrators hope will soon bring down older, unusable structures and pave the way for a new hospital, however. He wants to immortalize the architectural history with his camera.
February 24, 2013 Proposal to build resort at former Northern State Hospital draws support
- A proposal to build a destination resort on the grounds of the former Northern State Hospital gained support this month, after the Port of Skagit Board of Commissioners and the Skagit County Commissioners wrote letters agreeing to explore land-use changes necessary for the plan. In a letter dated Feb. 12, the port commissioners cited job creation, a boost for Sedro-Woolley’s and the county’s tax base and “spinoff” businesses as reasons to get behind the project.