Milwaukee County Insane Asylum... was it a Kirkbride?

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That is incorrect. Innovation Park is near Hwy 100, south of Watertown Plank Road.

Site of hospitals is north of the Ronald McDonald House, east of County Poor Farm and railroad spur line to power plant, west of Pauper's Cemetery. Near 92nd Street, north of Watertown Plank Rd.

The stone paths through the woods, the "island" and oak savannah are still present. Some building outlines are still visible by Google maps satellite view. The road to the front of the asylum ends in a cul de sac. The cinder road for carriages to back of the North Unit is obscured by tree canopy.

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insaneasylumlake.png

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I think that's the only PC I've seen from there.

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Help!
Hi All,
I am researching info on the deserted buildings off of Watertown Plank Road. I have found conflicting information and am hoping that you have some answers. Was it the Agriculture School, or part of the sanitarium?

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Agriculture School
The buildings on the north land that were recently sold are absolutely the old Agriculture School buildings. All of the asylum and sanitarium buildings, which were east of the Agriculture School and north of Watertown Plank Road, as well as the Plank Road School complex and the sprawling recreational gardens that were designed by the designer of the Mitchell Park gardens (remember the sunken garden south of the Domes that existed until 1994?) have been demolished or left to ruin. The sanitarium buildings were all torn down in the mid-to-late '90s, often with little or no notice to the public. The more recent asylum (early 1900's through 1979), the "Northwest Building," which was on 92nd about midway between Watertown Plank and Wisconsin Avenue, was torn down in '94 or '96, if I recall correctly. The only buildings left are the old orphanage, which has been renovated and is now the Milwaukee County Parks Building, and the Muridale Sanitarium, which was essentially the "tuberculosis hospital" (located near the corner of Watertown Plank and Highway 100 (southeast corner). I would not be surprised if many of the old Agriculture School buildings will be demolished rather suddenly and without notice as well, as seems to be the case with the buildings in the area. I always felt it was done to avoid the public outcry as the buildings generally had rather meaningful historical significance.

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The tuberculosis sanitarium was the cream-colored brick building with the network of iron fire escape-like balconies on the hill north of Watertown Plank Road in the 9600 block. It has been gone for fifteen years.

The modern mental health buildings near Wisconsin Avenue were razed to build Froedert Hospital. They were known as the south units.

The water mirror, fountains and extensive parterre gardens on the Mitchell Park Grounds date from 1904 — 1994.

The hand-colored postcard of the boating pond with the Japanese bridge predates the 'north unit'; otherwise the north unit would appear in the photograph. So. We know the picture is before 1898.

We when read of Frederick Law Olmsted and his influence on the Milwaukee park system, there is the 'Grand Necklace Of Parks': Lake, Washington and Riverside. Looking at his other projects from other cities at this point in his career, we see the repetition of the 'rustic' stone staircases, the pond with the Japanese bridge to a picturesque island, the cinder pathways with the hidden promontory and suddenly there is the vista.

Mitchell Park has none of those elements.

Ponds were common on the County Institution Grounds. Not only for their beauty but in the event of a fire the steam pumper located at Wauwatosa Fire Company No. 2 (then located at Watertown Plank Road and aprx 90th Street) would have an adequate water supply.

The institution grounds were in a rural area without municipal water. To this day, there is an independent institution powerhouse. The railroad spur to deliver coal is still discernible in places and the gauge of the track is much smaller than modern railroad track.

As we continue past the powerhouse past the remains of a tennis court, there are a series of concrete barriers to prevent car traffic and the asphalt road becomes a dirt road. Ahead on our right we will see bricks embedded in the ground. Remnants of the County Poor Farm barn. We walk aprx a quarter mile uphill and there are the remaining four buildings of the Milwaukee County School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy. Designed by Alexander C. Eschweiler.

milwaukeecountyschoolofag.jpg
Edited On 6:17:08 AM - Tue, Jun 4th 2013 by Vetiveronica

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Very neat, thank you for sharing this interesting information.

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I wish I had pictures of MCCH
I was in the old Milwaukee County Childrens Home in 1967-68 (I was 14-15 at the time) and knew the County grounds fairly well at that point in time. There's far too much to tell in words here and almost all of the buildings are long demolished. We used to go to religious services in the large main building in the upper picture of what's now called the School of Agriculture, that was part of the Childrens Home in the 1800's. If anybody is interested I could give a tour of the grounds some time and tell you what used to be where. There are many things I have yet to hear people mention and wonder how many know what I do.

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Any information you have to share, we'd be happy to have! I was told several years ago by the city, they have old photos but no budget to digitize them.

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My dad used to be the administrator foe this same hospital. I have original pictures but not currently home. The old buildings have been torn down but I believe the new addition still remains. We have original relics like bell from tower, stain glass windows, and hand carved printed press plate and picture of the grounds.

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I fortunately found Sanborn maps for the 2 asylums in Milwaukee. Milwaukee Hospital for the Insane has a very Kirkbride look, while the other Milwaukee County Asylum, not so much.

WImilwaukeemental1951.jpg
WImilwakeechronicinsane1951.jpg

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I know that the Milwaukee County Hospital For Mental Diseases stood on the former county grounds. This was the first and original asylum built in the 1880's. It served as the asylum for the people of Milwaukee. The old circle drive way still exists on the county grounds near WE Energies. Directly across Watertown Plank road is where the Milwaukee County Asylum Complex (bottom map) existed. It was built to supplement the original (top map) asylum on the county grounds.

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Quote:24.196.139.202 Sat 3rd 2:37 am
I was in the old Milwaukee County Childrens Home in 1967-68 (I was 14-15 at the time) and knew the County grounds fairly well at that point in time. There's far too much to tell in words here and almost all of the buildings are long demolished. We used to go to religious services in the large main building in the upper picture of what's now called the School of Agriculture, that was part of the Childrens Home in the 1800's. If anybody is interested I could give a tour of the grounds some time and tell you what used to be where. There are many things I have yet to hear people mention and wonder how many know what I do.


this is an original postcard of what the Home For Dependent Children. this was located on the other side of the county grounds park, but on the same land as The Milwaukee County Hospital For Mental Diseases.

mchome.jpg



This is all that remains today of the orphanage. (the middle building)

Home-for-Dependent-Children-Mke_Mar10.jpg

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Does anyone have any photos on the building to the north?
Hey...

Does anyone have any photos and/or information on the building to the north of the Kirkbride looking building? It was built just before 1890 and was attached to the Kirkbride via tunnel. The building is referenced as 1079 in the map above. In high school my friends and I used to spend quite a bit of time there.

I have attached a photo that I have to give you a idea what it looked like. I was hoping though that someone can upload a few more, hopefully some when it was in operation and some more recent.

Sanitarium-North.jpg

Thanks.
Jason

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Hi Jason, welcome and thanks for the photo. Considering there aren't many to be had. The county historical society says they have a lot of photos they haven't scanned, they might be a good place to check. The building you refer to is the "Milwaukee County Hospital for Mental Disease Receiving Ward". It was part of the "Milwaukee Hospital for the Insane" & this is where new admissions would go for classification. 1079 is the page number & here it is on the Sanborn map, according to their timeline, it was there in 1910. The main building is to the lower left.
WImilwakeereciving1951.jpg

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Cool thanks! In 1991 we visited the historical society and looked through many of the photos. We scanned several of the Receiving Ward and we found a article mentioning the date of 1886 as the start of construction. I just assumed it was completed in less than 4 years. Also if I remember that photo correctly it did not have the screened porches on the east and west sides of the building.

I have the blue prints of the Receiving Ward and the date is 12-10-19. There are many differences between the blue prints and the building we used to explore in high school. First is that the tunnel was not part of the blue prints but were hand sketched on them and located farther east in the basement than the actual tunnel. Second is the west side of the basement had a extension installed which expended about 20-30 feet west of the base of the screened porches that contained large tanks easily over 1000 gallons each. I think they were used for heating oil but I am not 100% sure since the building also was connected to the steam pipes.

I can imagine there were several iterations of construction and I would love to get as much information of the whole complex as I can. Where did you get the Sanborn maps, are they available online? Also are there any maps of that area for the 1950's - 1980's?

I plan on scanning the blueprints and uploading them here when I get a wand scanner as they are E size drawings and very detailed.

Cheers
Jason

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It looks like a Kirkbride to me - and the time period is right. But remember Kirkbride wasn't an architect - he worked with many architects, so there is a fair bit of variation in all Kirkbride facilities. The person who'll know for sure is Carla Yanni - the Author of 'The Architecture of Madness; Insane Asylums in the United States,' University of Minnesota Press, 2007. A great book.

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Quote:24.196.139.202 Sat 3rd 2:37 am
I was in the old Milwaukee County Childrens Home in 1967-68 (I was 14-15 at the time) and knew the County grounds fairly well at that point in time. There's far too much to tell in words here and almost all of the buildings are long demolished. We used to go to religious services in the large main building in the upper picture of what's now called the School of Agriculture, that was part of the Childrens Home in the 1800's. If anybody is interested I could give a tour of the grounds some time and tell you what used to be where. There are many things I have yet to hear people mention and wonder how many know what I do.


I understand this is an old post. However, I find this subject fascinating since I live just blocks away and would very much respect and appreciate a guided tour on your terms.

Rich
Spikerbud@gmail.com
414-467-7513

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mom was there
My Mother and Aunt (as an infant), both born and raised in Milwaukee's third ward, were there for a short while, while my Grandmother was sick and in a hospital. I believe around 1934-36? (They are still with us, but hard for them to remember. She talks of a tunnel(s) to various areas they had walked thru, perhaps to eat? I would like to find more information during that era.

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Milwaukee County Hospital for Mental Diseases ward numbers?
Does anyone know which floor of the women's ward contained locked Wards 3 and 4 where my late grandmother spent 4 years?
Edited On 2:02:12 AM - Thu, Aug 6th 2015 by Tosan

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insane%20asylum%20with%20locations.jpg
Edited On 8:06:52 PM - Tue, Mar 29th 2016 by Vetiveronica

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Now It Makes Sense
I've always wondered why there were sidewalks, steps, curbs, a stone "patio" deep in the woods north of the buildings. The stone steps going down the ravine are still a puzzle. Due to the elevation of the area, I'm wondering if they led down to a pond, or creek whose course has been changed, running into the Menomonee River. The road up to the main building is still there, being used by the Ronald McDonald House. Until it's remodeling two years ago, the courtyard circle was and may still be there. The road to the west is still there, but it's being used present day by the power house on the west side of the road, and the present day water tower and closed food preparation building on the east side. The road on the far right, east of the fire station is still there and runs down to the paupers cemetery, across from the retention pond. North and west of this picture, the asylum cemetery is still there with a marker. It's in the small woods seen to the northwest when you get through the just north of this picture. You may all know this, but I thought I'd mention it if someone hasn't been there in a while. I take my dog through those woods almost every day.

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Hello! .. I am researching for info on the Milwaukee County Home for Dependent Children....my dad was placed there in the late 1930's, then placed into a foster home.. in order to be placed into the children's home, did his parents have to basically " give up parental rights"? ..he remained in the foster home till he was 18 ywars old...reasons unknown why they dumped him there...I have researched online, but not much info to be found on the children that were placed there ..anyone have any input ?

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it doesnt appear to be a Kirkbride, in that Kirkbride building were designed to give every room a window and it appears to have interior rooms.


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