Clarinda State Hospital

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Clarinda State Hospital
Clarinda State Hospital
Historical postcard image of the Kirkbride.
Established 1884
Construction Began 1885
Opened 1888
Current Status Active and Preserved
Building Style Kirkbride Plan
Architect(s) William Foster & Henry F. Liebbe
Location Clarinda, Iowa
Architecture Style Kirkbride Plan
Alternate Names
  • Clarinda Asylum for the Insane
  • Iowa State Hospital for the Insane
  • Clarinda Mental Health Institute
  • Clarinda Treatment Complex
  • Clarinda Lunatic Asylum

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. There is also a labyrinth of underground tunnels which connect every building. Like most asylums of it's time, it has had a gruesome and dark history. Remnants of this are the graveyard, hydrotherapy tubs, and lobotomy equipment.

In 1884 the state commission rallied for Clarinda to be the future site of Iowa's third mental asylum, which was to relieve crowding at the hospitals in Independence and Mt. Pleasant. Construction began July 1885 at a cost of $50,000. William Foster & Henry F. Liebbe of Des Moines were the architects. The Clarinda State Hospital opened for patients in 1888. "At the time it was built, it was believed to be the largest building under one roof."

The Kirkbride is massive, with over 500,000 square feet. When the building was built, it occupied 513 acres, but in 1933, it covered 1,055. The Kirkbride is kept in good condition to give people an idea of what it looked like when it was completed in 1886. Although the hospital looks the same as it did in 1886, the hospital has had many things replaced such as the windows of the Kirkbride, however, the original woodwork and tile floors in the administration section have been fixed up and kept.

The Kirkbride lives on as The Clarinda Treatment Center. In 1980, a large minimum security prison was built as the Clarinda Correctional Facility. A museum was recently added to the asylum and is full of asylum artifacts such as medical equipment, paperwork, Straitjackets, photos and postcards, and other historical asylum relics. Tours of the asylum and the museum are open to the public by appointment.

Staff from 1909-1910:

  • Superintendent-MAX E. WITTE, M.D.
  • First Assistant Physician-M. CHARLES MACKIN, M.D.
  • Second Assistant Physician-ROY MOON, M.D.
  • Third Assistant Physician-
  • Fourth Assistant Physician-
  • Woman Physician-PAULINE LEADER, M.D.
  • Steward-JOHN W. PAYNE
  • Matron-MARY E. COATS

The amount allowed for the support of this hospital is $12 per month for each patient.

Images of Clarinda State Hospital

Main Image Gallery: Clarinda State Hospital