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Both the Greystone and Athens Kirkbride buildings are in danger of being partially or completely demolished.
Please click on the link above for more information and to see how you can help.

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

Riverview Hospital


In 1872, Royal Hospital in Victoria was converted to British Columbia's first facility to house mentally ill patients. Due to overcrowding, Royal Hospital was closed and the patients moved to the new Provincial Asylum for the Insane in 1878. Again facing problems of overcrowding at the turn of the century, in 1904 the provincial government purchased 1,000 acres in then-rural Coquitlam for the construction of Riverview Hospital and the adjacent Colony Farm lands.

Patients were originally housed in temporary buildings, and in 1913 the building that would eventually be called West Lawn began treating the 300 most seriously ill male patients. By this time, Colony Farm was producing over 700 tons of crops and 20,000 gallons of milk in a year, using mostly patient labor. British Columbia's first Provincial Botanist, John Davidson, established an arboretum, nursery and a botanical garden on the hospital lands, often with the assistance of patients as there was a belief in the therapeutic value.[3] The botanical garden was moved to the new University of British Columbia in 1916, but the arboretum and nursery remained.

In 1924, the Acute Psychopathic Unit, later called Centre Lawn, opened. Then in 1930, the 675-bed Female Chronic Unit (later called East Lawn) opened. The first phase of what would eventually be called the Crease Clinic, the Veteran's Unit opened in 1934, with the second phase opened in 1949, giving Riverview its most iconic building. Finally in 1955, the Tuberculosis Unit (now called North Lawn) opened, marking the peak of patient residence. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

St. Lawrence State Hospital was authorized in 1886 by the state Legislature after being persuaded of the need for such an institution in the northern part of the state. The governor appointed a site selection commission including Dr. Peter M. Wise (superintendent of the Willard State Hospital) and William P. Letchworth (a member of the state Board of Charities who was also instrumental in establishing what is now Groveland). They recommended Point Airy, a 950-acre tract of farmland bulging out into the St. Lawrence River The state purchased the land for $90,500 in 1887.

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Featured Video

This video of Pontiac State Hospital filmed in 1999 was created just before the demolition.

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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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