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Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mondays adventure at the State Hospital..............

Monday was a beautiful day, we were going for a walk at the back of the old State hospital. There are loads of trails back there. Well we started off and saw that the new Botanical Garden area was now open. I have been waiting for this. It seems like a wonderful thing to have here and I wanted to see how it was coming along.
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An old postcard shows the old State Hospital.(above) It was a self sustaining community. The people who lived there worked a farm to earn their living. Wikipedia says ...... Lumber baron Perry Hannah, "the father of Traverse City," used his political influence to secure its location in his home town. Under the supervision of prominent architect Gordon W. Lloyd. The hospital opened in 1885 with 43 residents. Under Dr. James Decker Munson, the first superintendent from 1885 to 1924, the institution expanded.Twelve housing cottages and two infirmaries were built between 1887 and 1903 to meet the specific needs of male and female patients. The institution became the city's largest employer and contributed to its growth. In the 1930s three large college-like buildings were constructed near the present site of the Munson Hospital parking deck and the Grand Traverse Pavilions.
Long before the advent of drug therapy in the 1950s, Munson was a firm believer in the "beauty is therapy" philosophy. Patients were treated through kindness, comfort, pleasure, and beautiful flowers provided year-round by the asylum's own greenhouses and the variety of trees Munson planted on the grounds. Restraints, such as the straitjacket, were forbidden. 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 farm began in 1885 with the purchase of some milk cows and within a decade grew to include pigs, chickens, milk and meat cows, and many vegetable fields. In the 1910s-30s, the farm was home to a world champion milk cow, Traverse Colantha Walker. Her grave is at the end of the dirt trail between the farm and the asylum.(picture will follow)
While the hospital was established for the care of the mentally ill, its use expanded during outbreaks of tuberculosis, typhoid, diphtheria, influenza, and polio. It also cared for the elderly, served as a rehab for drug addicts, and was used to train nurses. After Munson's retirement, James Decker Munson Hospital was established in his honor on the grounds in 1926, and was operated by the state well after his death and into the 1950s. It was then replaced by Munson Medical Center in the 1950s, the largest hospital in northern Michigan and one of the largest in the state. A portrait of Dr. Munson hangs inside the main lobby of Munson Medical Center.
However, changes in the law and mental health care philosophies brought on the decline of the institution. The farm on the grounds closed in the 1950s, with most of its buildings demolished in the mid-1970s. In 1963, the main 1885 center wing of Building 50 was destroyed because it was deemed a fire hazard and a new modern building was put up in its place. Use of the hospital slowly declined, and it was closed in 1989, with a loss of over 200 jobs to the local economy. (wikipedia).
So that is a brief history of the place. I was not going to get into all that but it is sort of a background for what I want to say.
When the hospital was closed the inmates were released. They were on their own. I can vouch for the fact that it was NOT a good thing. We had several staying across the road from us but that is another story.
So first of all, I went first to take a picture of our local hero, the cow, Traverse Colantha Walker.
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In going to take the picture (last one was on old fashioned film) I found that the new center was open. So we went for a look. While it is only in the beginning stages I am soooooo happy. The old barns will be saved. It has been an ongoing discussion for many years. As was the fate of the hospital itself. Thank heaven and the people who decided to save it all. So when I read that they were planning a botanical garden there I was thrilled.
There are many tunnels going hither and yon to and from the hospital, rabbit warrens of tunnels for services and whatever else went on. With our winters I am sure it was a good thing.
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Here is a picture of what they are planning
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The barns are beautiful and we got to see inside.
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The visitors center was delightful if unfinished. Awaiting more funds. This is a generous community and I am sure they will get this done.
This is the state of a lot of the buildings, and so many wanted to just tear it all down. Good sense prevailed. Now the hospital is renovated. Some buildings became places for people to stay when they travel to be with hospital patients. Some became senior care and hospice. Some apartments. Part of it is becoming restraunts and shops and so much more. Its not finished. SO many many more buildings left to be worked on. They are trying to preserve its historical architecture and use. For example one huge room with hold banquets and weddings and so on. There are many plans in the works. The grounds are being landscaped and the surrounding woodlands preserved with miles of hiking trails, Thats where we were headed before getting sidetracked. That will be another post.
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This picture above, they have been renovated and are now apartments. The views would be great. I can't imagine a better place to live really with all the places to walk and all the things to do so close by. There are senior assisted living apartments too.
Well back to the barns, the grounds have a community garden at the moment and have for years, Then there will be several other gardens planned, picnic areas and art and culture events held there.
This is the visitor center
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All artwork is for sale done by local artists, part of the sale goes towards the reconstruction and preservation as well as future plans.
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I cant say enough about this place, a work in progress for sure but I thank everyone involved for saving this part of our town history. Its the most beautiful building we have here and it was certainly worth the cost of renovation.
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We should never loose things like this. I will do another post about our day, our adventure on the trails. I gave Laura a camera so you will see some pictures of me. (eye roll)

3 comments:

Magic Love Crow said...

Wow, what history! I am so thankful they are restoring such a wonderful place! It looks amazing! Thanks for sharing this Janice! Can't wait to see some pictures of you ;o) Hugs ;o)

NanaDiana said...

That is an amazing post. What wonderful history there is there. I am glad they are going to save some of the old part of it and restore what they can. It is amazing! xo Diana

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Such a beautiful building and grounds--I am glad they decided to preserve it! You have so many wonderful place near you to hike and visit!