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Both the Greystone and Athens Kirkbride buildings are in danger of being partially or completely demolished.
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Mission Statement

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The Mission

The mission of this site is to archive both historical and current information on asylums across the United States and around the world.

The Statement

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

Eloise Asylum


In 1839, only two years after Michigan had joined the Union, Wayne County paid $800 to buy a 160-acre farm in Nankin Township (now Westland). The purchase included a log cabin known as the Black Horse Tavern. The County erected an addition to the tavern building and used it to house 35 needy people, a keeper and his wife. They called it the Wayne County Poorhouse. Its first residents were transferred from another poorhouse at Gratiot and Mt. Elliott in Detroit . Many refused to move, claiming the new poorhouse was "too far out in the wilderness." And they were right -- at that time the corner of Michigan and Merriman was nearly two days by stage coach from Detroit.

But that was what the county officials had in mind. They wanted somewhere well out of sight to send what they saw as society's dregs -- the vagrants, vagabonds, drunkards, pilferers and brawlers. With such a broad charter, it wasn't long before the feeble-minded and the insane were being housed there. Records show that a Biddy Hughes was Eloise's first official mental patient, committed by her family in 1841. She was in her mid-30s when admitted and was kept there until her death 58 years later.

Prior to the 1840s, little distinction was made between rational and mentally ill inmates. A county report from the 1840s made reference to harsh restraints used to separate the mentally ill from other inmates. The mentally ill were housed on the upper floor of a farm building used to keep pigs.

County employee Stanislas M. Keenan reported in his 1913 book, "The History of Eloise," that in the first few years people in the surrounding area heard "the chained unfortunates roaring and shrieking in discord with the squealing pigs beneath." Conditions improved in 1869 when the mentally ill were moved to a new building where they were supervised by a neighboring farmer and his wife. But the chains remained until 1881, when Dr. E.O. Bennett, Eloise's first medical superintendent, did away with them. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

The Mansfield Training School was established in 1917 with the merging of two institutions, the Connecticut Colony for Epileptics and the Connecticut Training School for the Feeble Minded (previously known as the School for Imbeciles) "to provide for the care, custody, education and employment of mental defective (feeble minded) and epileptic persons." On its opening on July 1, 1917 there were 402 students in residence.

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Featured Video

The following is a documentary on both Laconia State School and also the people who had been sent there. This film was directed, produced, edited, and uploaded to YouTube by 1L Media.

Upcoming Events Calendar

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Asylum News   (news you can edit!)


BERLIN, VERMONT – The nearly complete $38 million Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital is a state-of-the-art mental health facility that feels all but institutional.

January 27, 2014 A kinder approach: Former Allentown State Hospital CEO is recognized for reducing restraint tactics

The former CEO walks on the roof of the Allentown State Hospital. He is armed with his high-definition camera and decades of memories to provide context to what he sees. Each step on the roof frames a new perspective of the hospital he helped to transform. The rooms in the former psychiatric center are empty. It has been three years since the hospital closed. For Greg Smith, it is easy to reminisce. He can fill in the blanks, but there aren't many signs of what used to happen at the 100-year-old campus.

January 27, 2014 Taunton State Hospital again faces closure

The state's plan to close the inpatient unit at Taunton State Hospital reflects a philosophical shift that emphasizes community-based services over institutional care, a mental health official said Friday. For the third straight year, the state is proposing to move all inpatient beds from Taunton State Hospital to the new Worcester Recovery Center. In each of the past two years, the state faced staunch local opposition. As a compromise struck in the Legislature, 45 beds currently remain at Taunton State, which used to have about 170.

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