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Second Chances: The Story of Fergus Falls State Hospital

MinneCulture | KFAI

In the late 19th century, insane asylums were built across the country in response to a national outcry over the treatment of the mentally ill. More than 75 asylums were designed using Dr. Thomas Kirkbride’s Moral Treatment Plan, which claimed mental ailments could be alleviated with beautiful architecture and serene landscaping. The former State Hospital in Fergus Falls, Minnesota is one of the few remaining intact Kirkbride hospitals in the country. KFAI producer Susan Gray spoke with preservation supporters to learn about the building's historical significance to Fergus Falls, and the treatment of people with mental illness. When this story first aired early in 2013, the building was destined for the wrecking ball. In June of 2013 the city accepted a proposal to begin a renovation project with Historic Properties, Inc., a Georgia based Real Estate Development Company. The plan, Historic Kirkbride, includes an upscale hotel, spa, apartments, shops and a makerspace.