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Traverse City State Hospital


Submitted By jwinn27
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Traverse City State Hospital

Known for its architecture is The Traverse City State Hospital. Built in 1885, in Northern Michigan, this breathtaking property now stands today “as mute witness to a therapeutic movement that once flourished in the United States”. The hospital’s original theme was "beauty is therapy." This mental institution was part of Michigan's mental health department, which had other institutions at places including Kalamazoo, Pontiac, Newberry, Northville, Caro, and other cities. The hospitals first superintendent, Dr. James Decker Munson, felt that if people were surrounded by beauty and tranquility, a lot of their mental problems would cease to exist. The use of straightjackets wasn’t even allowed. Also, as part of the “work is therapy” philosophy, the asylum provided opportunities for patients to gain a sense of purpose through farming, furniture construction, fruit canning, and other trades that kept the institution fully self-sufficient. The asylum also produced its own electricity and heat.
Dr. James Decker Munson believed that mental asylums should be for the treatment of the patients, not just for storing the mentally ill. It was this belief that led the way for the natural environment of care he created for his patients, and originated the idea of therapeutic work for the mentally ill, who worked on the hospital farm. In 1881, the state chose Traverse City as the site for the Northern Michigan Asylum, where Dr. Munson was selected as the first medical superintendent in 1885. When he arrived he found an enormous area of uncultivated, stump-covered land. With his farming background and experience, he cleared the land and planned its landscaping and beautification.

Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, a well known physician and active in the psychiatrist field believed that establishing a new building type was essential for affecting

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