Ypsilanti State Mental Hospital is demolished medical complex in York Charter Township in the U.S. state of Michigan that housed and treated patients for mental health disorders. The Ypsilanti State Hospital was closed and abandoned in 1991. In 2005 Toyota bought the property to develop the Toyota Technical Center on the site, and all remnants of the abandoned hospital complex are gone.
In 1930, the state of Michigan provided $1.5 million for a psychiatric hospital to be built to help accommodate the loads of the other state hospitals at the time. Construction of the Ypsilanti State Mental Hospital began on 16 June 1930 and it took a year to complete. It was named Ypsilanti State Hospital because it fell within the Ypsilanti telephone exchange area.
The buildings of Ypsilanti State Hospital were designed by Albert Kahn, the architect of dozens of buildings on campus, including Angell Hall and Hill Auditorium. The first six patients were admitted on June 15, 1931, and by 1932, the hospital was spending 80 cents a day on each of its more than 900 patients.
The first expansion was in 1936 with additional accommodation and the Occupational Therapy Center. Experimental therapies such as needle showers, ultraviolet radiations and electric shock therapies were introduced. Prefrontal lobotomies were also performed at the hospital.
In 1941, The U.S. Army Epidemiological Board’s Commission on Influenza tested 200 patients in Ypsilanti with an experimental flu vaccine. During World War 2 the hospital struggled with the problem that plagued all non-military establishments, shortage of personnel. The total personnel dropped approximately 35%. At the same time the patient population and turnover continued unabated. A measure of relief was afforded by the use of 75 conscientious objectors, however this only fulfilled part of the shortfall.
The post-World War II era saw the construction of two new wards, bringing the hospital’s capacity beyond 4,000 patients. It also saw an explosion of new research activities, ranging from mundane epidemiological studies, to “finger-painting as a diagnostic and therapeutic aid,” to work involving a substance referred to as “L.S.D. CID #527.” Dr. Jonas Salk honed the skills that would later lead him to develop the polio vaccine by testing flu vaccines in Ypsilanti State Hospital.
After the end of the war the building program continued. Buildings B-5 & B-6 were completed in 1948; in 1954 the Administration section was remodeled and a third story added for additional office space. YSH was the first state hospital in Michigan to have a separate chapel from other buildings.
Friends and Family Circle was formed at Ypsilanti State Hospital in 1951 “to further the welfare of our patients, especially those, of whom there are over 1,000, who lack personal contact with relatives or friends.” It was about this time that Ypsilanti State Hospital gained the greatest fame it is likely to ever have. Milton Rokeach, a social psychologist, decided to try group therapy with three patients who all had delusions of being Jesus Christ. The logical contradiction of having two other Christs in the room wasn’t enough to cure the patients. But the resulting book, “The Three Christs of Ypsilanti,” was required reading in many psychology classes for a generation.
By the end of the 1960’s YSH saw it’s patient population begin a steady decline. In 1991, the Governor of Michigan cut funding for state hospitals and Ypsilanti State Hospital soon closed. A forensic centre on the site remained open until 2001.
A small portion of Ypsilanti State Hospital remained in use as the Center for Forensic Psychiatry until 2005 when a new building for the Center for Forensic Psychiatry just north of the old hospital was opened. Toyota eventually bought the site to develop a technical facility and the hospital was torn down in 2006 after remaining abandoned for many years.