St. Joseph's Sanitarium

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St. Joseph's Sanitarium
Established 1885
Opened 1896
Closed 1967
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Single Building
Architect(s) Buechner and Jaconson
Location Dubuque, IA
Alternate Names
  • Insane Asylum of West Dubuque
  • St. Joseph's Mercy Insane Asylum


This facility was established by the Sisters of Mercy. Located on Asbury Road, the institution was originally known as the Insane Asylum of West Dubuque. This name was changed to St. Joseph's Sanitarium in November 1909. The facility was planned to provide care for patients suffering mental disorders.

The institution, dedicated on June 7, 1896, with Archbishop John Hennessy in attendance, was described as five different buildings semi-connected in the form of a Roman cross. A four-story administration building standing at the front was flanked by two four-story wings, one reserved for male patients and the other for females. Constructed between the wings and linked to the administration building was a chapel.

The sanitarium was designed by architects Buechner and Jaconson of St. Paul, Minnesota, to accommodate five hundred patients. Twenty-two acres of grounds were associated with the buildings. Despite the initial plans, the sanitarium was expanded in 1897 and became known as St. Anthony's Home for the Aged.

Condemned by state health and fire authorities, the facility on Asbury Road was closed and stood vacant beginning on April 29, 1967, when the last thirty-two patients were transferred to the Mental Health Department at Mercy Hospital. The function of the facility, along with that of Saint Anthony’s Home, became part of the MERCY MEDICAL CENTER. The sanitarium officially closed on June 30, 1967.

In 1968 the land and buildings were sold to the University of Dubuque. Demolition of the buildings began during July to make room for a planned seminary complex. These plans were eventually abandoned, and the land was converted to University Park. This property was later the site of the Red Cross building in Dubuque.