Independence State Hospital

The Kirkbride in Independence, Iowa opened in 1873 as the Iowa Hospital for the Insane. It was the second asylum built in the state, the first being in Mount Pleasant. Independence took ten years and $845,000 to complete. The architect was Stephen Vaughn Shipman who also designed the Kirkbride buildings in Elgin, Illinois; Anna, Illinois; Oshkosh, Wisonsin; and Mendota, Wisconsin.

While some changes have been made to the building, the exterior appears much as it does in early photographs. One of the more attractive aspects of this Kirkbride is that it sits at the end of a long stretch of lawn directly in front of the administration center. Although such arrangements were reasonably common in the heyday of Kirkbride asylums, it's not as common a sight these days as property values have risen and hospital grounds have shrunk.

Independence State Hospital is now known as The Mental Health Institute (MHI) and continues to serve as a psychiatric hospital as well as a training school for nurses. Although some areas of the Kirkbride are unused, the building is in good shape throughout and has recently undergone some renovations.

Other names for this hospital:

  • Iowa Hospital for the Insane, Independence
  • Independence Mental Health Institute


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