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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

Clarinda State Hospital


The Clarinda Treatment Complex was built in 1884 as the Clarinda State Hospital in Clarinda, Iowa of southwest Iowa. It was the third asylum in the state of Iowa and remains in operation today. The original plan for patients was to hold alcoholics, geriactrics, drug addicts, mentally ill, and the criminally insane. An act of the Twentieth General Assembly of the State of Iowa, chapter 201, authorized the appropriation of $150,000 for the purpose of establishing an additional hospital for the insane. The act went into effect April 23, 1884, and provided that the Governor should select three commissioners, with power to locate the site for the hospital somewhere in Southwestern Iowa.

The act provided that not less than 320 acres of land should be purchased in the name of the state, so selected as to insure an abundant supply of good, pure water and to be susceptible of proper and efficient drainage. It was also provided that no gratuity or donation should be offered or received from any place as an inducement for its location; that the commissioners should, as soon as the location was fixed, secure and adopt plans and specifications and estimates for the buildings to be erected. All buildings to be fireproof, the exterior plain and of brick, to be built on the cottage plan; the board to invite bids after publication for 30 days in Des Moines newspapers; the contract to be let to the lowest bidder complying with the requirements of the commissioners. They were to employ a competent architect and superintendent of construction, appoint a secretary and keep accurate minutes of their doings.

The Governor appointed as commissioners the following: E. J. Hartshorn, of Palo Alto County; J. D. M. Hamilton, of Lee County, and George W. Bemis, of Buchanan County. These gentlemen met at Des Moines on May 21, 1884, and organized. George W. Bemis was elected president of the board, E. J. Hartshorn treasurer and J. D. M. Hamilton secretary. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

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n 1867 the Ohio Legislature appointed a commission to find a site for an asylum in south-eastern Ohio. A site in Athens was found suitable. Construction began in 1867 and the Athens Lunatic Asylum was completed during 1874. Levi T. Scofield was the architect. The Athens Mental Health Center opened on January 9, 1874 on land purchased from the Coate's farm. The asylum itself was built from bricks which were fired on-site from clay dug on-site. Herman Haerlin, a student of Frederick Law Olmstead (the designer of Central Park), was responsible for the design of the hospital and its grounds.

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Featured Video

The following twenty minute 1936 video entitled "On The Front Lines" was about the major scourge of the time, tuberculosis, and features Waverly Hills Sanitarium for most of its hospital scenes.

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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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