Kirkbride Buildings Blog

July 16th, 2008

Even More Kirkbride Buildings

Missouri State Lunatic AsylumAs explained a while back in this post, it’s my goal to post pages with pictures and history of each demolished Kirkbride building that I never got a chance to visit. I’ve recently posted a few more, including Spring Grove State Hospital (Maryland), Fulton State Hospital (Missouri), Jacksonville State Hospital (Illinois), Kalamazoo State Hospital (Michigan), Winnebago State Hospital (you guessed it: Wisconsin), and Pontiac State Hospital (Michigan).

Some of the less boring facts gleaned during my research involve the asylums in Jacksonville and Fulton. At Jacksonville, in 1860 a lady named Elizabeth Packard was involuntarily committed for three years. Her husband sent her to the asylum after she began disagreeing with his religious beliefs. On her release, she separated from her husband, formed the Anti-Insane Asylum Society, and successfully petitioned the Illinois legislature to grant wives the right to a public hearing if their husbands tried to have them committed. She also wrote a few books about her asylum experience (one of which can be read online here).

Packard makes an interesting contrast to Dorothea Dix (who favored asylums in case you didn’t know). Apparently Dix even spoke out directly against some of Packard’s statements regarding asylums and some reforms Packard called for (although I would imagine she wasn’t against the public hearing issue).

Turning to Fulton and matters more architectural, I was never quite sure the Fulton building was an honest-to-goodness Kirkbride, but I was finally able to find some early pictures of the building which confirm it was. Evidently the building went through a number of changes over the years. It opened in its original form, as designed by Solomon Jenkins, in 1851. It was then updated and enlarged in the 1880s under the supervision of architect Morris Frederick Bell. In the 1930s it was updated and enlarged yet again, this time becoming something of a mutant Kirkbride. The building caught fire in 1956 and the admin was destroyed. It’s possible the whole building was torn down shortly after the fire, but I haven’t found any definitive proof of that yet. The building definitely isn’t standing any more though.

Incidentally, while researching Fulton I discovered Morris Frederick Bell was also the architect of the Nevada State Hospital Kirkbride in case anybody’s been wondering about that. I know I was since it’s one of my favorite lost Kirkbrides.

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