Eastern Michigan Asylum, photo submitted in 1981. Eastern Michigan Asylum, photo submitted in 1981.
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Eastern Michigan Asylum Historic District
140 Elizabeth Lake Rd., Pontiac - Oakland County
Other Names Clinton Valley Center; Boundary Decrease 6/18/86
Property Type brick buildings
Historic Use HEALTH CARE
Current Use HEALTH CARE
Style Gothic
Late Victorian
Architect/Builder Charles Anderson
Elijah E. Myers
Robert O. Derrick
Smith, Hinchman and Grylls
Narrative Description The Eastern Michigan Asylum Historic District is comprised of forty-four randomly located structures. Many of the buildings are extensions of the original main building, which, as a result, has grown into a vast, spiderlike megastructure. The rambling, three and one-half story, main building built in 1875 to 1878 originally consisted of a center building containing offices and staff quarters with two identical wings, one for men and one for women. Large extensions were added to each of the patients' wings in several stages between 1882 and 1895 to match the original building. These buildings, designed by Elijah E. Myers, are picturesque structures in the High Victorian style made of red brick with elaborate steeply pitched, hipped, patterned slate roofs with multiple towers and pinnacles. Shallow buttresses accent the exterior design, reinforcing the vertical massing of the towers and bay windows. Cornices are made of wood and metal and the roof ventilators are of galvanized iron. Further, hipped-roofed, brick additions were made to the 1880s wings in 1906 and 1914. In 1938 extensive additions of Tudor design were made in front of the original building connected to the older structure by a narrow passage. In addition to the main building complex, architecturally significant buildings in the complex include the Sawyer and Vinton buildings, which were constructed in 1917 and 1893 respectively, and the Italian Renaissance style chapel built in 1907 designed by Smith, Hinchman and Grylls of Detroit.
Statement of Significance The Eastern Michigan Asylum is historically significant as a continuously operating state mental institution and architecturally important for its fine buildings illustrating changing styles and concepts in institutional design. The Eastern Michigan Asylum was authorized by the Michigan Legislature in 1873 as the second state mental institution. It was opened in August 1878. The institution brought many innovations to the care of the mentally ill including occupational therapy or work therapy programs and recreational activities, an attendants' training program, decentralized buildings for patient care, and research into the pathology of insanity and nervous diseases. As of 1981, the State of Michigan was phasing out such large residential structures for inpatient care of the mentally ill and other uses for the Eastern Michigan Asylum complex were being studied.
Marker Name Clinton Valley Center
Marker Text CLINTON VALLEY CENTER The Clinton Valley Center has served southeastern Michigan for one hundred years and is the second oldest hospital for the mentally ill in the Great Lake state. Since opening in 1878, the center has employed seven superintendents. This institution was originally named Eastern Michigan Asylum; it became Pontiac State Hospital in 1911 and adopted the name Clinton Valley Center in 1973. The different names symbolize changing concepts in the treatment of mental illness. The first patient was admitted on July 31, 1878, a day before the official opening. Treating 222 patients at its start, this hospital now serves nearly 800 patients. It has advanced from a custodial institution to a modern treatment center which offers many kinds of therapy necessary for different emotional illnesses. SIDE TWO Elijah E. Myers, a renowned Michigan architect, designed the original hospital structure in 1875. Charles Anderson, a local architect, was responsible for the master plan of several of the residences. Smith, Hinchman and Grylls, of Detroit, drew up plans for the 1907 chapel building which is still extant. Patients using the extensive grounds for agriculture, dairy and cattle breeding projects were a familiar sight to the citizens of Pontiac. The Clinton Valley Center trains psychiatrists, nurses and other health care workers. Receiving a World's Fair Award in 1894 for "evidence of excellent fire protection, detached cottages for each sex, and a training school for attendants," this center continues to provide modern facilities for the mentally ill.
Period of Significance 1866-1900
Significant Date(s) 1878
Registry Type(s) 06/27/1978 Marker erected
03/20/1981 National Register listed
09/17/1974 State Register listed
Site ID# P24359