Clarinda State Hospital

In 1884 a state commission selected Clarinda as the future home of Iowa's third insane asylum, which was planned to relieve overcrowding at the asylums in Independence and Mt. Pleasant. The cornerstone was laid on July 4th, 1885, and the asylum opened three years later in 1888. However, it only accepted male patients at that time as the female wing had not yet been completed. William Foster & Henry F. Liebbe of Des Moines were the architects.

This Kirkbride is large, enclosing over 500,000 square feet, but somehow doesn't appear as imposing as others of similar size. This might be due to the wing configuration in which the third wing section is set back a good distance from the first, with the second section perpendicular and somewhat hidden when viewing the front of the building. Many of the original windows have been replaced, diminishing the building's historic character a bit. But the somewhat restrained gothic facade has not been modified much otherwise. Inside there are some modernizations, but also many holdovers from the past, like the beautiful woodwork and tile floors in the administration section.

The Kirkbride is still in use as part of the Clarinda Treatment Center, a multi-purpose human services and correctional campus. Although there are some spaces not fully utilized, the building is well maintained throughout and is in fantastic shape. A museum of the hospital's past takes up one ward and is full of original artifacts: furniture, tools, medical equipment, etc. The museum is open to the public by appointment.

Other names for this hospital:

  • Clarinda Asylum for the Insane
  • Clarinda Mental Health Institute
  • Clarinda Treatment Complex


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