Also known as the Traverse City State Hospital, Northern Michigan Asylum and the Traverse City Regional Psychiatric Hospital, the Traverse City Insane Asylum was established in 1885 and for over 100 years cared for the mentally ill until it closed its doors in 1989.
While the picture of the castle-like hospital building (most commonly known as Building 50) is probably the most common image most people think of when they think of the Traverse City Insane Asylum, it actually is a small part of the massive 135 acre hospital complex. The hospital also had 12 cottages and was built to be mostly self sustaining with its own power plant, shop for steam heat, greenhouses, a farm with 2 large barns, separate farm buildings and was even home to a world champion Milk cow named Traverse Colantha Walker (whose grave is still on the grounds). The hospital generally employed more than 200 workers at any time, its closure was a blow to Traverse City MI.
While the hospitals main goal was the care for the mentally ill, it also helped care for outbreaks of tuberculosis, epilepsy, typhoid, diphtheria, influenza and polio.
While a scant few of the buildings have been lost to demolition over the years, there is currently a massive effort to preserve and restore those that are left. Deterioration and decay have been waging war against these historic buildings for years but in 2000 the Minervini Group secured an agreement to renovate the historic buildings, starting with Building 50. Wing by wing they are restoring and renovating the building and turning its upper levels into upscale condominiums, while its ground or lower levels house shops, boutiques, offices and restaurants. They are also starting work on some of the cottages to turn this area into THE VILLAGE AT GRAND TRAVERS COMMONS.