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Featured Article Of The Week

Anoka State Hospital


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Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center is the current name of what was originally the First State Asylum for the Insane (1900-1919), Anoka State Asylum (1919-1937), and Anoka State Hospital (1937-1985). The first 100 patients arrived at the newly opened Anoka Asylum in March 1900. The group of men who traveled by train from the St. Peter hospital were classified as “incurables.” The asylum was not built originally as a place for treatment. Rather it was where most of these men would live out their days. According to historical records, 86 of those first 100 patients died there and many were buried in numbered graves at the cemetery on the grounds.

By 1906, 115 female patients had been transferred to the hospital from the facility in St. Peter. In 1909, it was decided that Anoka would admit only female transfer patients and that the state hospital in Hastings would admit the male transfer patients. However, construction of an additional building in 1925 allowed the hospital once again to admit male patients.

As treatment of the mentally ill evolved, so did conditions and treatment at Anoka. Among the procedures performed in the 1940s and ’50s were lobotomies, some done at the University of Minnesota. In the 1950s, treatments included electroshock therapy and hydrotherapy. In 1948, Gov. Luther Youngdahl allowed a reporter and a photographer from the Minneapolis Tribune to tour the state’s seven hospitals, including Anoka. The articles that followed exposed harsh conditions. Click here for more...