Ypsilanti State Hospital

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Ypsilanti State Hospital
Established 1929
Construction Began 1930
Opened 1932
Closed 1991
Demolished 2008
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Pavilion Plan
Location Ypsilanti, MI
Peak Patient Population 4,200 in 1958
Alternate Names
  • Ypsilanti Regional Psychiatric Hospital
  • Center for Forensic Psychology


During the 1920s the necessity for an additional state hospital became apparent. The combined capacity of the existing state hospitals was 1,900 beds short of what was considered adequate. In 1929 Governor Green proposed that a fifth state hospital be developed. The first appropriation of $1.5 million for the fiscal year ending 1930 was passed. Ypsilanti was chosen because of it's population density and proximity to the University Center in Ann Arbor as well as it's availability of land. Purchase of the 1,209 acres was begun in 1929.

On June 16, 1930 the breaking of ground was underway. The following year the Legislature formalized the name and function for the institution. The architectural firm of Albert Kahn designed the buildings and contracts were let out for construction work to 35 separate companies. Construction work was pushed at what was described as a "miracle pace".

The first patients were admitted one day short of the 1 year mark since the groundbreaking. At the time of the formal dedication, July 28, 1931, the physical plant consisted of the receiving hospital and administration building ("A" building), C-1 and C-2 blocks with combined facilities for approximately 900 patients; the unit containing 6 apartments ("J" building); dormitory and apartments for employees (K-1); powerhouse, warehouse & the superintendents quarters. All main buildings to which patients would have need of access were connected by underground tunnels.

At the conclusion of the first year of operation (1932) 922 patients were living at Ypsilanti State Hospital. There were 239 employees and 116 on the nursing attending force. The total cost for maintaining a patient was .80 cents per day. During the Depression salaries were reduced moderately and personnel received a cutback. The effect was to delay expansion at a time when environmental pressures placed increasingly intolerable stress upon the individual, resulting in overcrowding and waiting list reached new highs.

At virtually the same time the federal and state governments stepped in and in late 1936, plans were drawn for further expansion. C-3, C-4, C-5 and C-6 were completed in 1937. Occupational Therapy Center and buildings B-3& B-4 were begun that same year, formal dedication made in 1938. Difficult as the economic situation was, therapy and service to aptients were continually re-evaluated and new avenues explored. The end of fiscal year 1936 had seen hydrotherapy give 11,807 treatments including "needle" showers, fan douches, jet douches, salt glows, general massages, local massages Sitz baths, foot baths, ultraviolet radiations, electric light bakes, cold wet sheet packs, continuous baths, electric light cabinets bubble baths, hot fomentations, colloidal baths and surgical dressings.

During World War 2 the hospital struggled with the problem that plagued all non-military establishments, shortage of personnel. The total personnel dropped approximately 35%. At the same time the patient population and turnover continued unabated. A measure of relief was afforded by the use of 75 conscientious objectors, however this only fulfilled part of the shortfall.

After the end of the war the building program continued. Buildings B-5 & B-6 were completed in 1948; in 1954 the Administration section was remodeled and a third story added for additional office space. YSH was the first state hospital in Michigan to have a separate chapel from other buildings.

A survey of the hospital's buildings in 1969 found that they were functionally obsolete because the units "were all designed for custodial care of the insane and are not well suited for a therapeutic program of care and treatment for the mentally ill." By the end of the 1960's YSH saw it's patient population begin a steady decline. Gov. John Engler sought to cut state spending on mental health. Under Engler, State Mental Health Director James Haveman Jr. sought to close all the state's mental hospitals. Ypsilanti State Hospital - by now renamed Ypsilanti Regional Psychiatric Hospital - was one of the first to go, closed in 1991.

A small portion of Ypsilanti State Hospital remained in use as the Center for Forensic Psychiatry until 2005 when a new building for the Center for Forensic Psychiatry just north of the old hospital was opened. By August 2008 all the buildings were demolished and a new Toyota research facility was built on the site.

Images of Ypsilanti State Hospital[edit]

Main Image Gallery: Ypsilanti State Hospital


The following video was shot by Ypsilant employees just before the hospital's closing. The tape was later found just before demolition of the institution.