Clarinda Treatment Complex

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Coordinates: 40°45′28″N 95°02′15″W / 40.757897°N 95.037625°W / 40.757897; -95.037625 The Clarinda Treatment Complex was built in 1884 as the Clarinda State Hospital in Clarinda, Iowa in southwest Iowa. It was the third asylum in the state of Iowa. The hospital's many name variations include: The Clarinda Lunatic Asylum, The Clarinda State Asylum, The Clarinda Asylum for the Insane, and The Clarinda Mental Health Institute. It was built under the Kirkbride Plan. The original plan for patients was to hold alcoholics, geriatrics, drug addicts, mentally ill, and the criminally insane. As of 2009, it was made public that, to save money, the state may close one of the four hospitals in Iowa. As of today half of the Clarinda Treatment Complex is home to troubled youth under supervision on the Clarinda Academy owned by Sequel Youth Services.


The Kirkbride is made of red brick with white trim in some areas. The administration section has a large clocktower and is kept in good condition to provide people with an idea of what the mental institution looked like when it was completed in 1886. Although the hospital looks like it did in 1886, the hospital has had many things replaced such as windows. Amenities have also been added such as electricity, running water, and other buildings including infirmaries and a minimum security prison that was established in 1980. Although things have been replaced and added, however, much of the original woodwork and tile floors in the hospital have been kept.


Prior to the construction of Clarinda, Iowa had two mental hospitals, in Independence and Mt. Pleasant, but these were overcrowded. Recognizing the need for a third, a state commission selected the city of Clarinda to serve as its home in 1884. William Foster and Henry F. Liebbe of Des Moines were retained as architects for the new facility. Construction began July 4, 1885, and the first patients of the then all-male institution took occupancy in 1888.[1]

The patients at the hospital were thought to be no longer human, and therefore, many were abused, and some even died. The reasons for patient deaths were gruesome lobotomies, improper food and water, starvation and dehydration, abuse, surgeries, extreme climate, and various other forms of treatment.

The central building still remains as part of The Clarinda Treatment Complex.[1] The hospital is not the only thing that occupies the campus, as in 1980, a minimum security all male prison was built as the Clarinda Correctional Facility. A museum was recently added to the complex and has many historical asylum artifacts such as medical equipment, paperwork, furniture, photos and other relics.[1] Tours of the asylum and the hospital are open to the public by appointment.


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