Racine County Asylum

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Racine County Asylum
Opened 1889
Closed 1970
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Single Building
Location Racine, WI
Alternate Names
  • Racine County Insane Asylum
  • Racine County Hospital for Mental Diseases
  • Gatliff Asylum
  • High Ridge


The Racine County Hospitals and Home provided care for patients in three types of units -- the County Home, County Hospital, and Hospital for Mental Diseases. County homes had their origin in the poorhouses which were created by the Wisconsin poorhouse law enacted in 1849. Poorhouses were managed by a Superintendent of the Poor who was subject to the direction and control of the County Board of Supervisors. Early poorhouses were often repositories for social outcasts and indigents where little effort was made to segregate criminals, the insane, orphans, the aged, and the physically disabled. The recognition of the deplorable conditions in poorhouses by the State Board of Charities and Reform and the gradual movement throughout the United States to establish more sophisticated public relief programs, changed the role of poorhouses to providing care mainly for aged indigents and seriously ill persons unable to live alone and lacking relatives willing or able to provide a home for them.