Village of the Feeble-Minded

"The Village of the Feeble-Minded" was the nickname of this hospital in a 1940's exposé on state institutions. Although the comparison with a village is a bit idealistic, the sprawling cottages on this campus do seem like a utopian institutional vision gone awry. As for the term "feeble-minded", contemporary documentations abound in many such pejorative classifications of the mentally ill.

One of the more significant facts about this hospital is that it was a special project of Franklin Kirkbride's, son of the famed psychiatrist Thomas Kirkbride. Franklin wrote compassionately about treating the mentally ill as fellow members of the human race (in some institutions at that time, the cattle fared better than the residents) and actively sought to relieve the local overcrowding and abuse.



From the children's sickrooms to the pharmaceutical labs directly beneath, many aspects of hospital life remain well-preserved, including shower mats, conductometers, and vials in a 50's diner-style blood bank.



Many rooms sparkle with instruments of stainless steel. The light fixtures are particularly handsome, many still gleaming as if recently in use.



Immediate plans for reuse of the institution's grounds include the obligatory golf course, community centers and court facilities. In the meantime, its maze-like halls are left to crumble in silence. Perhaps as a companion to the children who passed away on these premises, their ward is still watched over by the cheery ghost of Donald Duck.



All photos © Julia Solis. Contact.