Saint Peter State Hospital, 2100 Sheppard Drive, Saint Peter, Minnesota

From Placeography

Jump to: navigation, search
Edit with form

Saint Peter State Hospital

[[Image:Image:Gulsendisli--st peter state hospital.jpg|center|200px]] 
Interior view from the museum section of the building
Address: 2100 Sheppard Drive
Saint Peter, Minnesota
Nicollet County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1866
Year Ended: Year ended 1876, construction ended 15 November 1880. Fire destroyed the hospital's north wing; throughout the 1880’s the hospital expanded; by 1892, the hospital's farm was expanded; by the spring of 1911, four separate institutions existed on the St. Peter campus: the mental hospital, the detention hospital, the hospital for tuberculosis insane, and the newly completed hospital for the criminally insane.warning.pngString representation Year ended 1876, construction ended 15 Nov […] pleted hospital for the criminally insane. is too long for Placeography.
Founded by: State of Minnesota (owner), architect: Kirkbride, Dr. Thomas, Sloan,Samuel
Historic Function: Historic site
Historic Function: Health Care, State Hospital
Other Historic Function: Health Care, State Hospital
Current Function: Campus (educational)

Saint Peter Nicollet County

Saint Peter State Hospital, 2100 Sheppard Drive, Saint Peter, Minnesota
(44.30683° N, 93.983955° WLatitude: 44°18′24.588″N
Longitude: 93°59′2.238″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Reference Number: 86002117
Reference URL: [Reference]
Certification date: July 31, 1986
Level of significance: State

1. Basic Definition of the Building

1.1. General Introduction and Site History

The St. Peter State Hospital was Minnesota’s first hospital for the care of the insane as well as the third state institution. First an act was passed for the establishment and location of a hospital for the insane in the state of Minnesota, and to provide for the regulation of the same. In 1 July 1866, the commissioners, created by the act and responsible for recommending a permanent location for the state's hospital, made their recommendation. They opted for St. Peter (Nicollet County) as the permanent site. The St. Peter State Hospital began in 1866 when the Minnesota State Legislature responded to the need for an asylum and the hospital accepted its first patients on 6 December of that year and received more patients from Iowa on 28 December; permanent buildings were not completed, however, until 1876. After the commission's report, the board of trustees purchased the Ewing house in St. Peter for temporary use until construction was completed on the permanent hospital . The board had estimated that there would be no more than fifty patients in a year to use the hospital. But after two months of the opening of the hospital, overcrowding had become the foremost problem and therefore in the spring of 1867 the board of trustees was reorganized and construction began on a temporary frame building adjacent to the Ewing property. After its completion it would house an additional fifty patients.

The building is constructed in classical style with cut stone exterior walls with gable roof covering on it. Inside, the walls are cladded with mortar and painted on it. Historic heating radiators and lavatory appliances are still be observable in some sections of the building being as a part of display in the self-oriented museum. Period of significance for the building site was 1875-1899, 1850-1874 and area of significance was social history and architecture . As for the plan development of the hospital; a "Linear Plan" was adopted by the board for the permanent hospital consisting of a center building with attached sections in 1867. This linear plan is also called as ‘Kirkbride plan’ developed by Dr Thomas Kirkbride in 19th century . In the 19th century a considerable growth was seen in state-sponsored treatment of the mentally ill in the United States, and as a result in the rise of asylum buildings. In Kirkbride plan an asylum was intended to be designed to improve activity, to be secluded from suspected causes of illness and to provide a certain amount of medical therapy aiming to cure mental disorders, thus improving patients' lives and the quality of society in general. The central part was designed to serve for administrative purposes flanked by two wings comprised of tiered wards. Thus a hierarchical segregation of residents according to sex and symptoms of illness was provided; male patients were housed in one wing, female patients in the other. Each wing was sub-divided by ward and the more "excited" patients were placed on the lower floors, farthest from the central administrative structure, and the better-behaved, more rational patients were situated in the upper floors and closer to the administrative center. In this way, it was aimed to make patients' asylum experience more comfortable and productive by isolating them from other patients with illnesses antagonistic to their own while still allowing fresh air, natural light, and views of the asylum grounds from all sides of each ward. When the development of hospital history was considered similar divisions and segregations of patients according to their degree of madness and illness and sex was seen even in the 13th and 14th century hospitals and in further ones. In Al-Bimaristan al-Arghoni and in Kalavun Maristan in Syria such segregation is observed explicitly. Also there are examples of historical hospitals from Anatolia where mentally ill patients were segregated and located in different wards as in 13th century Kayseri Gevher Nesibe Hospital, 15th century Edirne II. Bayezid Hospital and 16th century Suleymaniye Hospital. A fire on November 15th, 1880 destroyed the north wing of the building before being contained and killed 18 patients, thus exacerbating the problem of overcrowding. The hospital expanded throughout the 1880’s. The north wing was rebuilt, two detached structures were erected to the north and south of the main facility, tunnels were built beneath the complex for the distribution of food, and a piggery, corn crib, and greenhouse were built. Because of the problem of institution's overcrowding by 1896, in response to similar conditions at the State Hospitals in Rochester and Fergus Falls, two new hospitals opened in Hastings and Anoka, Minnesota. In 1907 the legislature authorized establishment of an asylum for the dangerous insane, to be operated in conjunction with the St. Peter State Hospital; four separate institutions existed on the St. Peter campus: the mental hospital, the detention hospital, the hospital for tuberculosis insane, and the hospital for the criminally insane, for this institution were completed in 1911 . In 1968 the Minnesota Valley Social Adaptation Center, a unit for persons with developmental disabilities, was established as part of St. Peter State Hospital and continued until 1997 and in 1985 the institution’s name was changed to St. Peter Regional Treatment Center with the Executive Order No. 85-17. In 1960s, for the first time the number of patients started to decline, as a result with fewer patients and new treatments the physical plant changed as well. Many old buildings demolished and replaced by new. In 1968 the North Flats of the hospital, constructed in 1869, were destroyed as part of the overall master plan. Nowadays from the old center, the administration center is what remains. The wings were torn down in the 1960s and 70s. By 1972, the St. Peter State Hospital consisted of over sixty buildings. Now the "old Center" building houses a museum which is open to the public by appointment. It includes artifacts representing the State Hospital during the late 1800's. The museum features a variety of displays which use photos and settings of furniture depicting small vignettes of hospital life and routines at the turn of the century . Table 1 includes the basic definition of the building.

2. Physical Attributes of the Building Carrying Outstanding Universal Values and Authenticity

Central to all aspects of the design of St. Peter State Hospital was the patients, their needs and well-being. From this starting point Dr. Thomas Kirkbridge created a functional synthesis, where the physiological, psychological and social factors were linked with prevalent treatment practices. All levels and wings of the building aimed to serve for the needs of the patients, thus aiding their recovery. The building was tried to be a part of the landscape and oriented in a particular directions that provided therapeutic sunlight and air to comfortable living quarters so that the building itself promoted a curative effect. Dr. Thomas Kirkbride's theory on "moral treatment" of the insane was a constructive idea unique to the United States, for mental asylums from the mid to late 19th century. His aim was to move patients from overcrowded city jails and almshouses, where they were often chained to walls in cold dark cells, to a rural environment. The Kirkbride plan influenced the construction of over 300 similar facilities throughout North America. However, as a result of the changes in treatment philosophy, development of new ideas as deinstitutionalization, and more community based treatment in 20th century, the theory of "building as cure" was largely discredited and most of the Kirkbride buildings were abandoned and many were demolished.

Even though, its north and south wings were demolished today, it can be said that St. Peter State Hospital was an outstanding and pure example of Functionalism of its time of first erection, responding to the requirements of mental treatment. The hospital building located somewhat at the center of the campus, the accompanying residential and technical buildings as well as the areas such as farm, river serving for leisure time activities; express the harmony between the nature and building fighting together against the mental disorder of the patients.

As for the authenticity, the relationship between the nature and buildings in the campus was the main concern for St. Peter State Hospital complex, which still retains its authenticity and originality to some extent even today. St Peter State Hospital is now used as a museum exhibiting the memories from old days and a new treatment center satisfying the today’s mental health conditions is constructed on the hill site still in the same campus.

3. Comparative Analysis

U.S.A. Mental Hospitals in Late 19th’s designed in Kirkbride Plan.

Most of the Kirkbride buildings throughout the United States were built between 1848 and 1890, although there were a few instances built after 1900. In all buildings the same basic floor plan and general arrangement of facilities promoted by Dr. Kirkbride was followed, but also many different architects designed the individual buildings and gave them their own unique character . Most of them are demolished today.


Superseded by

It is currently the Minnesota Security Hospital. The central portion of the original Kirkbride building now houses a small museum devoted to the history of the hospital, which is open by appointment only.

Memories and stories


64px}px This place is part of
the ARCH5674 Class Project

Photo Gallery

Related Links

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


  • Minnesota Historical Society Agency History Record
  • More Information on Kirkbride buildings
  • The public buildings of the state of Minnesota : An Architectural Heritage Patricia Murphy (for the State Historic Preservation Office of the Minnesota Historical Society)

    - Drawings of Saint Peter State Hospital, accessed October 21, 2012, - Saint Peter State Hospital Museum Collection - Plan of Syria, Aleppo, Argun Maristan, internet accessed on October 22, 2012. - Garini, R., “The Places of Madness: The Bimaristan Al-Arghun in Fourteenth Century Syria” 38.Uluslararası Tıp tarihi Kongresi Bildiri Kitabı I (Ankara: Turk Tarih Kurumu Yayinlari, 2005): 399-401. - Aslan Terzioglu, “Bimaristan”, Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslâm Ansiklopedisi 6 (İstanbul: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı Yayınları, 1992):163-175. - Present photos of the old center, Archives of the Author, October 2012.

    Personal tools
    [ snubnosed]