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Both the Greystone and Athens Kirkbride buildings are in danger of being partially or completely demolished.
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Mission Statement

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The Mission

The mission of this site is to archive both historical and current information on asylums across the United States and around the world.

The Statement

This site is dedicated to the history of asylums in all forms. The term of asylum is applied to not only what is commonly thought of: mental hospitals, but can also be applied to sanatoriums, state training schools, reform schools, almshouses, and orphanages. These institutions have and continue to play a major part in today's society.

Everyone throughout the United States and in many other countries has in one way or another felt the touch of these institutions. These places have both directly and indirectly affected people and their families. They have shaped lives and created many popular myths about them.

With all that in mind, this site was created to help in the historical research of any institutions that can be classified as an asylum. It was created for both serious researchers, those who are doing genealogical research, and people with an interest in asylums.

Featured Article Of The Week

Torrance State Hospital

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From the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare web page: Torrance State Hospital opened its doors on November 25, 1919, with the transfer of five (5) patients from Danville State Hospital. At that time, it was generally believed that there was no hope for the chronically mentally ill. Consequently, reflecting the feelings and sentiments of society in general, Torrance State Hospital was opened as a custodial care institution for the chronically mentally ill.

Steadily over the years, the original patient census of five (5) grew to a patient census of 3,300 in the 1950's and 1960's, reflecting the attitudes of society toward mental illness. Treatment procedures at Torrance State Hospital followed the development of psychiatry and included shock therapy, psycho-surgery, psychotherapy and chemotherapy--active attempts at the treatment of mental illness quite distinct from the turn of the century approach of simple custodial care.

With the passage of legislation in 1966, which established the community-based mental health system, the stage was set for what became known as the "de-institutionalization movement". Throughout the 1970's to the present, Torrance State Hospital has continued its evolution, ever decreasing its census by affording patients the opportunity to resume community living. The Long Term Care Unit , a licensed Skilled Nursing Facility, was closed in 1996 and the Mental Retardation Unit, which had long been located at Torrance State Hospital, was closed in June 1998. As the need for psychiatric and long-term care beds on the grounds of the state hospital has decreased and availability of community supports has increased, some areas of the physical plant have been converted to other uses. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

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The first asylum for the insane erected in Ohio was built in Cincinnati, under an act of the Legislature, passed January 22, 1821, entitled, "an act establishing a Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum for the state of Ohio." By the terms of this enactment the trustees of Cincinnati township were to furnish a site for said institution, containing not less than four acres of land, within one mile of the public landing on the Ohio river, and erect the necessary buildings (which were to be of brick) for the safe-keeping, comfort and medical treatment of such idiots, lunatics and insane persons of this state as might be brought to it for these purposes.

Recent Message Board Posts

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Featured Video

This film documents the case of a mental patient in the 1950's and was filmed at Norman State Hospital.

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Asylum News   (news you can edit!)


BERLIN, VERMONT – The nearly complete $38 million Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital is a state-of-the-art mental health facility that feels all but institutional.

January 27, 2014 A kinder approach: Former Allentown State Hospital CEO is recognized for reducing restraint tactics

The former CEO walks on the roof of the Allentown State Hospital. He is armed with his high-definition camera and decades of memories to provide context to what he sees. Each step on the roof frames a new perspective of the hospital he helped to transform. The rooms in the former psychiatric center are empty. It has been three years since the hospital closed. For Greg Smith, it is easy to reminisce. He can fill in the blanks, but there aren't many signs of what used to happen at the 100-year-old campus.

January 27, 2014 Taunton State Hospital again faces closure

The state's plan to close the inpatient unit at Taunton State Hospital reflects a philosophical shift that emphasizes community-based services over institutional care, a mental health official said Friday. For the third straight year, the state is proposing to move all inpatient beds from Taunton State Hospital to the new Worcester Recovery Center. In each of the past two years, the state faced staunch local opposition. As a compromise struck in the Legislature, 45 beds currently remain at Taunton State, which used to have about 170.

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