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November 30

1885

The Traverse City State Hospital for the Insane Opened.

Created by Michigan Public Act Number 155, and originally called the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane, the Traverse City mental health institution had a total of five names in its one hundred plus year history. Medical advances during the institution's existence made the treatment of patients more humane as time went on, but early treatment was anything but gentle. Opium and morphine therapy, in addition to insulin shock, induced metrazol shock, lobotomies, and the infamous electroshock therapy were used to treat patients with illnesses ranging from typhoid to polio to shell shock. When the hospital closed in 1989, patients with continuing mental health problems were turned loose and ended up homeless, in jail, or in inadequate private care. Some even tried to return to the abandoned hospital, which they referred to as “home.”

For more information about the Traverse City State Hospital, see Angels in the Architecture: a Photographic Elegy to an American Asylum by Heidi Johnson.