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
Patton State Hospital
Patton State Hospital is a major forensic mental hospital operated by the California Department of Mental Health. It is located in San Bernardino, California, a community of approximately 181,000 people. The hospital was first opened in August 1, 1893. In 1927 it was renamed Patton State Hospital after a member of the first Board of Managers, Harry Patton of Santa Barbara.
Patton State Hospital is currently a forensic hospital with a licensed bed capacity of 1287 for individuals who have been committed by the judicial system for treatment. Currently the hospital is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of HealthCare Organizations (JCAHO). The Joint Commission's Board of Commissioner's approved a proposal to conduct all regular accreditation surveys on an unannounced basis beginning January 2006. Joint Commission standards deal with organizational quality of care issues and the safety of the environment in which care is provided.
The hospital currently provides psychiatric care and treatment to judicially committed, mentally disordered adult individuals. The Individuals served are assigned to a living unit, which is part of one of the seven Treatment Programs. The hospital is currently going through changes regarding how treatment is provided to the Individuals we serve. Currently treatment is delivered through a centralized approach, where the Individuals served and the staff, from throughout the Hospital, come together to participate in services within Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) Malls. Mall interventions are provided, as much as possible, in the context of real-life functioning and in the rhyme of life of the Individual. Thus, a PSR mall extends beyond the context of a building or place and its services are based on the needs of the Individual, not the needs of the program, the staff members or the institution. Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
Southern Hospital for the Insane
, located at Anna, Union County, founded by act of the Legislature in 1869. The original site comprised 290 acres and cost a little more than $22,0000, of which one-fourth was donated by citizens of the county. The construction of buildings was begun in 1869, but it was not until March 1875, that the north wing (the first completed) was ready for occupancy.
August 5, 2013 The history of Farview State Hospital
- In 1817 a group of Quakers founded America's first private mental hospital, Frankford Retreat, outside Philadelphia but Pennsylvania did not have any governmental provision for the treatment of the mentally ill. Farview was founded by an act of the state legislature on May 11, 1905 as the first and only institution in the state devoted exclusively to the care and treatment of the criminally insane.
July 31, 2013 New plans being drafted for State Hospital land
- With new legislation in the works, town officials are hard work drafting a plan for the Medfield State Hospital. The legislation— the state would turn over to the town, land under its control for the water tower, well field, and access roads to those areas—has not passed yet, and it will still be a few years before the town begins the project. In the meantime, the Board of Selectmen and a new committee called the State Hospital Advisory Committee are brainstorming not only whether the town should purchase the land from the state, but also what to do with it.
July 15, 2013 Cottage on Worcester State Hospital campus faces demolition
- It appears one historic building on the Worcester State Hospital campus will be torn down, while steps continue to rebuild a landmark at the Belmont Street complex. The bidding process for reconstruction of the Clock Tower on the site should begin soon, according to Deborah Packard, executive director of Preservation Worcester. Area preservationists and state officials already signed a memorandum of agreement saving the Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower, as well as two other historic structures.
July 15, 2013 Sale of former state hospital in Allentown to be a long process
- While the Allentown State Hospital property is now officially up for sale, don't look for the sale to happen anytime soon, said State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Allentown. Currently, the Department of General Services is working on putting together a request for proposals for the property, which has generated a great deal of interest since the hospital closed in 2010.
July 10, 2013 Nine NY state psychiatric centers to close in plan
- The state Office of Mental Health on Wednesday unveiled a sweeping plan to consolidate and reduce the number of state-run psychiatric hospitals from 24 to 15 over the next three years. "The time has come to fundamentally change the way we think about mental health in New York state," OMH Acting Commissioner Kristin Woodlock said in releasing the plan.
June 25, 2013 Demolition begins at former Henryton State Hospital
- The stucco building was the first that trespassers would see when they climbed up the paved road to the former Henryton State Hospital. By the end of Monday, it was mostly destroyed, as workers from Retro Environmental tore down the building in full body suits with respirators, due to asbestos and lead paint. In the last two years, Henryton State Hospital has been slated on the state’s capital budget to remove asbestos and raze the building. The schedule for the Maryland Department of General Services originally showed that the buildings were to be demolished in May 2014, according to testimony from the FY13 capital budget proposal.
June 21, 2013 Central State Hospital Searches for Solutions for Redevelopment
- Central State Hospital campus in Milledgeville is so large that at one point it had its own zip code. That same facility now sits empty and local officials are trying to change that.
The mayor of Milledgeville is asking the Governor Deal to change the process for redeveloping Central State. Central State Hospital's old campus is practically empty and the mayor of Milledgeville is reaching out to the governor with hopes to restore an eyesore in his city.
June 21, 2013 Pennsylvania preparing to sell former Allentown State Hospital
- For the first time since the former Allentown State Hospital closed its doors in 2011, state officials are making a move to put the entire sprawling East Side property on the market. On Thursday, the state House advanced legislation giving the Department of General Services permission to sell several state-owned properties, including the Allentown hospital grounds and improvements. The chamber is expected to vote on the measure next week. If approved, it would be sent to the state Senate for consideration.
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.