new posts
UER Store
location db
db map
terms of service
privacy policy

Location DB > United States > Michigan > Ypsilanti > Ypsilanti State Hospital
Ypsilanti State Hospital
 Viewing Options
Log in to activate viewing options
 Database Info
created by Stevenski on 3/13/2006 1:47 PM
last modified by ilduce on 2/13/2007 7:32 PM
Publically Viewable Publically Viewable
This location has been labeled as Demolished, and therefore can be viewed by anyone.

 Basic Information
Type: Building
Status: Demolished
Accessibility: Moderate
Recommendation: worth the trip
 Physical Information

Ypsilanti, Michigan
United States
  • See a map of this location
  •  Hazards
  • rust
  •  Interesting Features
    Auditorium & 2 gymnasiums
     Security Measures
  • 24 hour guard
  •  Historical Dates
    Built: 1931
    Closed: 1991
     Required Equipment
  • flashlight
  •  Recommended Equipment
    The state Legislature authorized construction of "a hospital for the human, curative, scientific and economic treatment of insane persons to be known as the Ypsilanti State Hospital" in 1931. The buildings were designed by Albert Kahn, the architect of dozens of buildings on campus, including Angell Hall and Hill Auditorium. The first six patients were admitted on June 15, 1931, and by 1932, the hospital was spending 80 cents a day on each of its more than 900 patients.

    The diary of Dr. O.R. Yoder, the hospital's longtime medical superintendent, shows the effects of the Great Depression that gripped the nation back then. On July 2, 1931, he wrote, "Were constantly stopped by hundreds of people seeking work. Several thousand applications on file." Later that month, the Ypsilanti Savings Bank closed its doors, and the doctor was left with $1.75 in his pocket.

    In the hospital's early days, there were no anti-depressants or anti-psychotics. Psychiatrists generally relied on Freudian talk therapy. The type of patient who wound up in Ypsilanti State Hospital, however, was often too ill to benefit from talking. For these patients, there were a variety of bodily treatments, ranging from the benign to the bizarre. Patients on "hydrotherapy" were given warm baths or wrapped in cold, wet sheets. "Physiotherapy" consisted of exposure to ultraviolet and infrared light. Those patients suffering from psychosis due to the end stages of syphilis were given heavy metals to ingest or deliberately infected with malaria. Before antibiotics, poisoning or life-threatening fever were the only options to kill the microorganism that causes syphilis. Because schizophrenia and epilepsy rarely occur in the same individual, it was reasoned that causing seizures might treat schizophrenia. In 1937, two "shock" therapies, using insulin or a drug called metrazol to induce seizures, were introduced at Ypsilanti State Hospital. Metrazol induced seizures so intense that patients often fractured their spines. Electroshock therapy was introduced around this time as well.

    These treatments were not particularly effective. In the 10th anniversary issue of Ypsi Slants, the newsletter published by some of the more able patients as part of their therapy, an article titled "Charter Guests Still Among Us" reported on patients who had been in the hospital since 1931. Of the first six people admitted to the hospital 10 years before, one was still a patient; the other five had died without getting better. Crumbling copies of Ypsi Slants kept in the Bentley Historical Library provide a glimpse into the lives of the more highly functional patients. In addition to listing the scores of intramural softball games and providing compelling reporting on the prize cows in the hospital's dairy, the newsletter contained something of a society column about the patients:
    "Harry Lemmer of Ward B 2-1 is losing his expert touch with cards. He has lost 12 straight games. His friends say he needs a little practice. They are all eager to help him practice."
    The lives of the sicker patients, however, are scarcely reflected in the newsletter. Those patients who were too disruptive to be kept in an open ward with other patients spent much of their time in solitary confinement.

    The post-World War II era saw the construction of two new wards, bringing the hospital's capacity beyond 4,000 patients. It also saw an explosion of new research activities, ranging from mundane epidemiological studies, to "finger-painting as a diagnostic and therapeutic aid," to work involving a substance referred to as "L.S.D. CID #527." Dr. Jonas Salk honed the skills that would later lead him to develop the polio vaccine by testing flu vaccines in Ypsilanti State Hospital on what even a U.S. military medical history website describes as "volunteers," in quotes.

    The late '40s also saw the expansion of another therapeutic technique - the lobotomy. To patients who failed to respond to psychotherapy, lobotomy offered a last hope. To the hospital, it offered a means of managing the most difficult patients. Indeed, suicidal or combative behavior was one standard the hospital staff used in determining whether to lobotimize patients.
    Lobotomies performed at Ypsilanti State Hospital were somewhat less gruesome than the so-called "ice-pick lobotomy," in which a surgeon hammered a metal spike into the skull through the patient's eye socket to slice through connective brain tissue. A lobotomy, however, was still a serious matter. Of the 65 lobotomy patients in 1953, five died, and only one-third improved enough to leave the hospital or to require less supervision within it, according to a journal article by members of the hospital staff.

    Chemical or electric shock treatments or extreme procedures like lobotomy had no effect on many patients. Schizophrenics had particularly poor chances. Of the 4,077 patients in the hospital on a given day in 1955, for instance, more than half were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Throughout the nation, large public mental hospitals housed these people whose conditions could scarcely be treated. More than 20,000 people were confined to Michigan's mental hospitals in the '50s. Many of these people were institutionalized for years and were abandoned by their loved ones. A Friends and Family Circle was formed at Ypsilanti State Hospital in 1951 "to further the welfare of our patients, especially those, of whom there are over 1,000, who lack personal contact with relatives or friends." It was about this time that Ypsilanti State Hospital gained the greatest fame it is likely to ever have. Milton Rokeach, a social psychologist, decided to try group therapy with three patients who all had delusions of being Jesus Christ. The logical contradiction of having two other Christs in the room wasn't enough to cure the patients. But the resulting book, "The Three Christs of Ypsilanti," was required reading in many psychology classes for a generation.

    Healthy Progress
    The '50s saw the era of the large state mental institution begin to pass. During that decade, doctors had access to the first effective anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs. There was finally a weapon against the terrifying delusions and suicidal depressions that haunted so many of Ypsilanti State Hospital's patients.

    The new pills, especially in the early years, had dangerous side effects, but they were safer and far more effective than insulin treatments or electroshock. Hospital staff faced a new challenge - for the first time ever, they had to turn away patients from dances and movies because too many were feeling well enough to participate.

    The medical directors worked on developing active programs of therapy appropriate for healthier patients. A publication commemorating the hospital's 25th anniversary in 1956 noted that the new drugs were being incorporated into "a total psychiatric treatment of the mentally ill." A survey of the hospital's buildings in 1969 found that they were functionally obsolete because the units "were all designed for custodial care of the insane and are not well suited for a therapeutic program of care and treatment for the mentally ill." What happened, at Ypsilanti State Hospital and across the nation, was not, for many patients, a "total psychiatric treatment" or "therapeutic programs of care." Recognizing the potential of new psychiatric drugs and the shortfalls of large, impersonal state hospital, the Kennedy administration passed legislation encouraging the development of smaller, community-based mental health facilities. Decentralized community mental health centers have worked well for many patients, who have been able to reunite with their families or seek employment while keeping their conditions in check with the aid of psychiatric drugs. But the drugs didn't work for all patients.

    Those patients, and patients who stopped taking their drugs after being released or who couldn't afford them, have often fared poorly outside mental hospitals. Many of the mentally ill have ended up in prison; others have become homeless. A recent survey by the Washtenaw Housing Alliance found that 42 percent of homeless people interviewed reported suffering from a mental illness.

    Thanks to the new drugs, many patients were discharged from mental hospitals. Across the nation, state officials dealing with budget shortfalls noticed that their mental hospitals were operating at less than full capacity and that Medicaid didn't reimburse them for care in mental hospitals anyway, so they began to close them.

    In Michigan, Gov. John Engler sought to cut state spending on mental health. Under Engler, State Mental Health Director James Haveman Jr. sought to close all the state's mental hospitals. Ypsilanti State Hospital - by now renamed Ypsilanti Regional Psychiatric Hospital - was one of the first to go, closed in 1991. Of the state's original 28 mental hospitals, only three for adults and one for children remain in operation today.

    A small portion at the back of Ypsilanti State Hospital, ringed with barbed wire, remained in use as the Center for Forensic Psychiatry, where the state sent individuals who committed its most twisted crimes for psychiatric evaluation. With the opening of a new building for the Center for Forensic Psychiatry just north of the old hospital last year, however, the complex has been completely abandoned.
    ---from Michigan Daily, 09-29-2005
     Media Coverage
     Future Plans
    As of fall 2006, the building has been completely demolished.

    Add your own story
     Photo Galleries
    Click to view gallery
    Feb 2006
    Mon, Mar 13th, 2006
    posted by Stevenski
    15 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    Ypsilanti State Hospital/Center for Forensic Psychiatry
    Sat, Jun 6th, 2009
    posted by R3d
    20 pictures

    Add your own photos

    Mark all galleries as Seen
     Web Links


    Edit this Location
     Moderator Rating
    The moderator rating is a neutral rating of the content quality, photography, and coolness of this location.

    This location has not yet been rated by a moderator.
    This location's validation is current. It was last validated by Opheliaism on 6/7/2009 4:12 AM.

     Latest Changes
  • on Jun 7 09 at 4:12, Opheliaism validated this location
  • on Jun 6 09 at 2:11, R3d added some pictures to a gallery
  • on Jun 6 09 at 2:10, R3d added some pictures to a gallery
  • on Jun 6 09 at 2:08, R3d updated gallery Ypsilanti State Hospital/Center for Forensic Psychiatry
  • on Jun 6 09 at 2:08, R3d created a new gallery
  • on Jun 2 09 at 19:16, Opheliaism validated this location
  • on Jun 2 09 at 19:08, R3d created a new gallery
  • on Feb 13 07 at 21:55, Emperor Wang validated this location
  • on Feb 13 07 at 19:32, ilduce changed the following: Status, Future Plans
  • on Mar 13 06 at 14:18, Stevenski changed the following: History
  •  Forum Threads about this Location
    New Thread
     Who's been looking?
    Click here to see who'se been looking.
     Report Problems
    Is this location inappropriate / broken / missing key info?
  • If it's something you can fix, please scroll up and click the EDIT button.
  • If this location was only posted a few days ago, give the creator time to work on it.
  • Please try sending a message directly to the creator of the location. You'll find that info at the top of this page.
  • Otherwise, ONLY if you've already tried to contact the original creator,: Click here to notify an administrator.

  • All content and images copyright © 2002-2024 UER.CA and respective creators. Graphical Design by Crossfire.
    To contact webmaster, or click to email with problems or other questions about this site: UER CONTACT
    View Terms of Service | View Privacy Policy | Server colocation provided by Beanfield
    This page was generated for you in 93 milliseconds. Since June 23, 2002, a total of 748591173 pages have been generated.