Portland Institute for the Insane

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Portland Institute for the Insane
Established 1861
Opened 1861
Closed 1883
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Single Building
Location Portland, OR
Alternate Names
  • Hawthorne Asylum
  • Oregon Hospital for the Insane


The first institution in Oregon devoted to the care of the mentally ill was the Oregon Hospital for the Insane. Drs. James C. Hawthorne and A.M. Loryea opened the private hospital in September of 1861 in a temporary building on Taylor Street between First and Second Avenues in Portland. Somewhat ironically, the proprietors made it very clear that their hospital was only a temporary fix for the state’s mental health care needs, and stated at the dedication of the new institution that they would happily turn over their patients to the state in the event that it created an asylum to care for them.

In 1862, the hospital was moved to a new building off of Hawthorne Avenue, east of SE 12th Avenue. The State of Oregon contracted with the hospital in the fall of that year to provide services for “indigent insane and idiotic persons” that were court ordered there. The hospital treated court ordered and private patients suffering from many forms of diseases including what Drs. Hawthorne and Loryea described as: mania, monomania, melancholia, dementia and idiocy.

In 1872, Loreya sold his portion of the hospital to Dr. Hawthorne and moved back to San Francisco. In 1880, the Oregon State Legislature finally appropriated funds for the building of an Asylum in Salem, finally getting the ball rolling on a project years in the making (land had been secured for the building as early as 1868). Dr. Hawthorne died in February of 1881. Upon his death, Dr. Simeon Josephi took over the operation of the hospital until the completion of the Oregon State Insane Asylum in Salem. On October 23, 1883 Dr. Josephi and Mrs. Hawthorne (wife of the late Dr. Hawthorne) transferred control of the patients in their care to a board of trustees consisting of state officials. From October 22-24, 370 patients were transported from Portland to the new Oregon State Hospital in Salem by rail.