The Northern State Mental Hospital in Sedro-Woolley has an absolutely fascinating history. Established in 1909, the hospital was a self-sufficient facility with a number of production buildings – including a 700-acre farm. After it closed down in 1973, the property was handed over to the county to turn into a recreation area. Some parts of the complex are still in use for Job Corps, while other buildings are open for the public to explore. Some have even been lucky enough to tour inside, and have thankfully shared these photos for a closer look at the asylum:
Back in 1909, Washington had two mental hospitals getting overcrowded: Western State in Steilacoom, and Eastern State in Medical Lake, near Spokane. Instead of making these facilities bigger, the state decided to build a third mental institution.
By 1911, Northern State officially opened their doors in Sedro-Woolley and quickly became the largest asylum in the state. Patients would be sent here from the eight northwestern-most counties, including: Skagit, Whatcom, Snohomish, King, Jefferson, San Juan, Clallam and Island.
Northern State treated their patients with occupational therapy, in hopes that physical labor on the farm would help their recovery. However, they also used a number of other unethical techniques to cure mental illness, like electroshock therapy and lobotomies.
Many patients were enrolled in training to prepare them for their eventual release from the hospital. Several were also sterilized, following century-old beliefs that the "treatment" was not only for their own good, but society’s as well.
While there were some people enrolled with mental illnesses, it's incredible to look back at all of the "causes" that sent people to this institution. Were they all
really "crazy"? Some men reportedly committed their post-menopausal wives, and there were children sent for what would have likely been diagnosed as A.D.D. today.
By 1953, the psychiatric clinic housed over 2,000 patients in 33 wards and was almost filled to capacity. In this photo, you can see an old small lab room, located inside of the old main facility.
Here's a ceiling mounted light in the surgery ward, where trans-orbital lobotomies were performed. Northern State was known for attempting this experimental brain operation, in hopes of "curing mental illness".
The total number of patients who died here is rumored to be in the thousands. Behind the facility's gymnasium is a graveyard full of unmarked graves, which has become overgrown over time.
Since the facility's shut down, there have been a number of ghost sightings and paranormal investigations all throughout the building. The most common apparition reported is a little girl with a red ball, and a male ghost searching for her.
Although the hospital closed in 1973, much of the main complex is still in use for Job Corps and as a drug treatment facility. If you're up for an eerie investigation though, many other parts of the grounds are still open for an adventure, including the old farm where patients used to work.
Are you creeped out yet? Have you been to this disturbing asylum in Washington before? Share your thoughts below.