Creepy and fascinating asylum complex yours for $1

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The Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center is one of the few remaining complete examples of a Kirkbride-designed psychiatric hospital. (MPR Photo/Dan Gunderson)

Fergus Falls doesn’t know what to do with the old asylum on the hill. Maybe some rich real-estate developer has an idea how to put the former Fergus Falls State Hospital to good use.

For years, the city and the state of Minnesota (which used to own the complex) have tried to find a buyer for the majestic, if slightly creepy, buildings.

The latest effort includes an ad on Craigslist. Gordon Hydukovich, the city’s community development director told the Fergus Falls Daily journal that he doesn’t know who put up the ad.

But Hydukovich isn’t clamoring for Craigslist to pull the ad down.

The ad went up after Hydukovich sent notices around letting the business community know that the complex is still on the market. According to the Daily Journal:

The notice goes on to give information about the building and information about Fergus Falls, highlighting all of the projects the building has been considered for in the past. “(The building) stimulates the imagination by its size, form and presentation,” reads the notice.

Hydukovich said that apparently someone who had gotten the notice decided to put it up on Craigslist, but he doesn’t know who or whether the person was trying to be funny or serious. The Craigslist ad includes a link to a page of photos of the building.

No question the old asylum is an architectural gem. Here’s how MPR’s Dan Gunderson described the complex in a 2004 story.

The old state hospital looks a bit like a castle, sitting atop a hill on the north side of Fergus Falls. Its eight-story brick tower is capped by a red tile roof. Two wings of patient rooms run east and west from the tower. The main building is about 1,600 feet long.

Known as a Kirkbride hospital, the Fergus Falls facility was designed by psychiatrist Thomas Kirkbride, who revolutionized the design of facilities for treating the mentally ill. The buildings were long and narrow, so every room had windows, a marked departure from the prison-like asylums commonly used in the 1800s. The Fergus Falls hospital is one of the most complete Kirkbride buildings still standing in the U.S. .

The buildings have lots of fans. A web site dedicated to Kirkbride complexes across the country offers up details and photos of the Fergus Falls grounds.

And on Flickr, dozens of photographers have joined a Kirkbride group and posted nearly 400 photos of various state hospital sites.

The Minnesota Historical Society keeps some photos of the asylum during its heyday.

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Postcard showing Fergus Falls State Hospital, ca. 1914. (Photo from Minnesota Historical Society.)

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Ca. 1915. (Photo from Minnesota Historical Society.)

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Main building, 1928. (Photo from Minnesota Historical Society.)

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Administration building, undated photo. (Photo from Minnesota Historical Society.)

  • Searching

    How about an Islamic center?

  • Thomas Tollefsen

    Maybe these buildings could attract revenue from movie and tv productions? Or a museum site? Or a place for historical expositions? Each of the buildings look interesting, but more so as a group.