Tune into MinneCulture on Wednesday, April 24, at 7:30pm to hear a captivating audio documentary by Susan Gray. Second Chances: The Story of Fergus Falls State Hospital explores the history of a Minnesota landmark, and why a place on the National Register of Historic Places may not save it from demolition.
In the late 19th century, insane asylums were built across the country in response to a national outcry over the treatment of the mentally ill. More than 75 asylums were designed using Dr. Thomas Kirkbride’s Moral Treatment Plan, which claimed that mental ailments could be alleviated with beautiful architecture and serene landscaping. The former State Hospital in Fergus Falls is one of the few remaining intact Kirbride hospitals in the country. Re-named the Regional Treatment Center in 1985, the building is destined for the wrecking ball if a developer is not soon found. KFAI producer Susan Gray spoke with preservation supporters to learn about the building's historical significance to Fergus Falls, and the treatment of people with mental illness.