Minnesota Security Hospital

Last updated
Minnesota Security Hospital
Minnesota government
St. Peter State Hospital, 1874 lithograph
Minnesota Security Hospital
Location St. Peter, Minnesota, United States
Coordinates 44°18′29″N93°58′56″W / 44.307958°N 93.982136°W / 44.307958; -93.982136 Coordinates: 44°18′29″N93°58′56″W / 44.307958°N 93.982136°W / 44.307958; -93.982136
Former name(s)St. Peter Hospital
OpenedDecember 6, 1866 St. Peter State Hospital; 1957 Minnesota Security Hospital
Lists Hospitals in Minnesota

The Minnesota Security Hospital is a secure psychiatric hospital located in St. Peter, Minnesota. It serves people who have been committed by the court as mentally ill and dangerous. It was established as St. Peter State Hospital in 1866 under the Kirkbride Plan. [1] [2] The original building is mostly demolished [3] though the hospital is still active.



In 1866, the Minnesota Legislature approved the building of a state hospital for the insane, hoping to reduce the growing amount of mentally ill people in jails throughout the state. They first had to find an area willing to deed 20 acres (8.1 ha) of land for the hospital. St. Peter leaders bought a 210-acre (85 ha) farm for $7,000 and lent it to the state. [4]

The hospital was constructed in 1866 in the Kirkbride design. [5] A fire destroyed the men's ward of the hospital on November 15, 1880. [6] Dr. C.K. Bartlett was the superintendent of the hospital in its early years before resigning in 1894. [6]

Its first patient checked on December 6, 1866. The hospital soon became overcrowded, so the state built 3 other facilities in Rochester, Fergus Falls, and Anoka. The St. Peter location remained the main hospital. Other hospitals also opened to reduce the population of patients but either closed or turned into retirement homes for the elderly. [4]

In 1911, the Asylum for Dangerous Insane officially opened on the campus of the St. Peter Hospital. The name was later changed to the Minnesota Security Hospital (MSH) in 1957. [4]

After the attempted assassination of Bishop Patrick Heffron of the Diocese of Winona, Reverend Louis M. Lescher was committed to this hospital until his death in 1943. [7]

In 1982, the current MSH building opened. The original hospital has since been demolished. The coordinates of the original hospital are 44°18′17″N93°58′36″W / 44.30472°N 93.97667°W / 44.30472; -93.97667 . [4]


Records documenting the population and activities in the security hospital, including admission and transfer book (1911-1938), admissions index (1911-1963), daily movement of population record, dangerous insane (1911-1913), and scrapbook (1937-1987) kept by longtime Medical Director Dr. Charles G. Sheppard are available for research use. [8]

Related Research Articles

Clinton Valley Center United States historic place

The Clinton Valley Center (CVC), originally called the Eastern Michigan Asylum for the Insane, was a psychiatric hospital located at 140 Elizabeth Lake Road in Pontiac, Michigan. The facility was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1974 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, with a decrease in its boundaries in 1986. The facility was closed in 1997 and demolished in 2000.

Kirkbride Plan

The Kirkbride Plan was a system of mental asylum design advocated by Philadelphia psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbride (1809–1883) in the mid-19th century. The asylums built in the Kirkbride design, often referred to as Kirkbride Buildings, were constructed during the mid-to-late-19th century in the United States. The structural features of the hospitals as designated by Dr. Kirkbride were contingent on his theories regarding the healing of the mentally ill, in which environment and exposure to natural light and air circulation were crucial. The hospitals built according to the Kirkbride Plan would adopt various architectural styles, but had in common the "bat wing" style floor plan, housing numerous wings that sprawl outward from the center.

Danvers State Hospital United States national historic place

The Danvers State Hospital, also known as the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers, The Danvers Lunatic Asylum, and The Danvers State Insane Asylum, was a psychiatric hospital located in Danvers, Massachusetts. It was built in 1874, and opened in 1878, under the supervision of prominent Boston architect Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee, on an isolated site in rural Massachusetts. It was a multi-acre, self-contained psychiatric hospital designed and built according to the Kirkbride Plan.

Bryce Hospital Hospital in Alabama, United States

Bryce Hospital opened in 1861 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States. It is Alabama's oldest and largest inpatient psychiatric facility. First known as the Alabama State Hospital for the Insane and later as the Alabama Insane Hospital, the building is considered an architectural model. The hospital currently houses 268 beds for acute care, treatment and rehabilitation of full-time (committed) patients. The Mary Starke Harper Geriatric Psychiatry Hospital, a separate facility on the same campus, provides an additional 100 beds for inpatient geriatric care. The main facility was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Athens Lunatic Asylum United States historic place

The Athens Lunatic Asylum, now a mixed-use development known as The Ridges, was a Kirkbride Plan mental hospital operated in Athens, Ohio, from 1874 until 1993. During its operation, the hospital provided services to a variety of patients including Civil War veterans, children, and those declared mentally unwell. After a period of disuse the property was redeveloped by the state of Ohio. Today, The Ridges are a part of Ohio University and house the Kennedy Museum of Art as well as an auditorium and many offices, classrooms, and storage facilities.

Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital Hospital in Morris Plains, New Jersey

Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital referred to both the former psychiatric hospital and the historic building that it occupied in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Built in 1876, the facility was built to alleviate overcrowding at the state's only other "lunatic asylum" located in Trenton, New Jersey. Originally built to accommodate 350 people, the facility, having been expanded several times, reached a high of over 7700 patients resulting in unprecedented overcrowding conditions. In 2008, the facility was ordered to be closed as a result of deteriorating conditions and overcrowding. A new facility was built on the large Greystone campus nearby and bears the same name as the aging facility. Despite considerable public opposition and media attention, demolition of the main Kirkbride building began in April 2014 and was completed by October 2015.

Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital United States historic place

The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, also known as Kirkbride's Hospital or the Pennsylvania Hospital for Mental and Nervous Diseases, was a psychiatric hospital located at 48th and Haverford Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. It operated from its founding in 1841 until 1997. The remaining building, now called the Kirkbride Center is now part of the Blackwell Human Services Campus.

Thomas Story Kirkbride American psychiatrist

Thomas Story Kirkbride was a physician, advocate for the mentally ill, and founder of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (AMSAII), a precursor to the American Psychiatric Association.

Dixmont State Hospital United States historic place

Dixmont State Hospital was a hospital located northwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Built in 1862, Dixmont was once a state-of-the-art institution known for its highly self-sufficient and park-like campus, but a decline in funding for state hospitals and changing philosophies in psychiatric care caused the hospital to be closed in 1984. After more than two decades of abandonment, it was finally demolished in 2006. The campus spanned a total of 407 acres (165 ha). Reed Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Norwich State Hospital United States historic place

The Norwich State Hospital, originally established as Norwich State Hospital for the Insane and later shortened to Norwich Hospital, was a psychiatric hospital that is located in Preston and Norwich, Connecticut. It opened its doors in October 1904 and it remained operational until October 10, 1996. Throughout its years of operation, it housed geriatric patients, chemically dependent patients and, from 1931 to 1939, tubercular patients. The hospital, which sits on the banks of the Thames River, began with a single building on 100 acres (40 ha) of land and expanded to, at its peak, over thirty buildings and 900 acres (360 ha).

Mendota Mental Health Institute Hospital in Wisconsin, United States

Mendota Mental Health Institute (MMHI) is a public psychiatric hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, operated by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission. Portions of the facility are included in the Wisconsin Memorial Hospital Historic District, District #88002183. The Mendota State Hospital Mound Group and Farwell's Point Mound Group are also located at the facility.

Asylum architecture in the United States of America

Asylum Architecture in the United States, including the architecture of psychiatric hospitals, affected the changing methods of treating the mentally ill in the nineteenth century: the architecture was considered part of the cure. Doctors believed that ninety percent of insanity cases were curable, but only if treated outside the home, in large-scale buildings. Nineteenth-century psychiatrists considered the architecture of asylums, especially their planning, to be one of the most powerful tools for the treatment of the insane, targeting social as well as biological factors to facilitate the treatment of mental illnesses. The construction and usage of these quasi-public buildings served to legitimize developing ideas in psychiatry. About 300 psychiatric hospitals, known at the time as insane asylums or colloquially as “loony bins” or “nuthouses,” were constructed in the United States before 1900. Asylum architecture is notable for the way similar floor plans were built in a wide range of architectural styles.

Patton State Hospital Hospital in California, United States

Patton State Hospital is a forensic psychiatric hospital in San Bernardino, California, United States. Though the hospital has a Patton, California address, it lies entirely within the San Bernardino city limits. Operated by the California Department of State Hospitals, Patton State Hospital is a forensic hospital with a licensed bed capacity of 1287 for people who have been committed by the judicial system for treatment.

Hudson River State Hospital United States historic place

The Hudson River State Hospital, is a former New York state psychiatric hospital which operated from 1873 until its closure in the early 2000s. The campus is notable for its main building, known as a "Kirkbride," which has been designated a National Historic Landmark due to its exemplary High Victorian Gothic architecture, the first use of that style for an American institutional building. It is located on US 9 on the Poughkeepsie-Hyde Park town line.

Winnebago Mental Health Institute Hospital in Wisconsin, United States

Winnebago Mental Health Institute (WMHI), formerly the Winnebago State Hospital, is a psychiatric hospital near Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States located in the unincorporated community of Winnebago, Wisconsin.

The Clarinda Treatment Complex was built in 1884 as the Clarinda State Hospital in Clarinda, Iowa in southwest Iowa. It was the third asylum in the state of Iowa. The hospital's many name variations include: The Clarinda Lunatic Asylum, The Clarinda State Asylum, The Clarinda Asylum for the Insane, and The Clarinda Mental Health Institute. It was built under the Kirkbride Plan. The original plan for patients was to hold alcoholics, geriatrics, drug addicts, mentally ill, and the criminally insane. In 2009, it was made public that, to save money, the state may close one of the four hospitals in Iowa. On June 30, 2015, the hospital facility was shut down and all patient services terminated. The Clarinda Academy, owned by Sequel Youth Services, is the sole occupant of the former hospital grounds.

Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center United States historic place

The Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center is a former hospital located in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It was built in the Kirkbride Plan style and first opened to patients in 1890. Over the next century it operated as one of the state's main hospitals for the mentally ill and also worked with people with developmental disabilities and chemical dependency issues. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

John Curwen, M.D. (1821–1901) was Superintendent of the first public mental hospital in Pennsylvania. He personally knew the thirteen founders of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions of the Insane (AMSAII), now the American Psychiatric Association. He served as secretary-treasurer of the Association for 34 years (1856–1890).

Osawatomie State Hospital is a psychiatric hospital established in 1863 and opened in 1866 in Osawatomie, Kansas. It has been named "Kansas Insane Asylum" and the "State Insane Asylum" but was officially changed to its present name in 1901.

Nevada State Hospital

Nevada State Hospital was a public psychiatric hospital located in Nevada, Missouri, constructed in 1887. The hospital was built in the design of the Kirkbride Plan.


  1. Hurd 1916, p. 848.
  2. "Letter from Thomas Kirkbride to the Leading Physician at St. Peter State Hospital". Incarceration in the Archive. University of Minnesota. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  3. "Saint Peter State Hospital: Still Standing". Kirkbride Buildings. September 3, 2008. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "St. Peter State Hospital history". University of Minnesota. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  5. Hurd 1916, pp. 848–851.
  6. 1 2 Hurd 1916, p. 849.
  7. "One hundred years ago today: Bishop Heffron shot during morning Mass".
  8. "ST. PETER STATE HOSPITAL: MINNESOTA SECURITY HOSPITAL, An Inventory of Its Records at the Minnesota Historical Society". Minnesota Health Services.