Our architecture history - Sedro-Woolley, Wash.

Once the largest facility for mentally ill people in Washington State, Northern State Mental Hospital was a town unto itself.

The Olmstead Brothers, whose father was famous for having designed New York City’s Central Park, designed the landscape at Northern State. Renowned architects Saunders and Lawton designed the hospital’s buildings. They worked in close collaboration with Northern State’s farm superintendent to create a self-sustaining and therapeutic colony for the mentally ill.

The hospital site included patient and staff housing, a water reservoir, sewage system, lumber mill, quarry, steam plant, greenhouse, canning facilities, gymnasium, library, laundry, dining room, bakery, dairy, and 700-acre farm for growing vegetables and raising livestock.

Nearly 2,000 patients lived at this psychiatric clinic. Some died naturally but some were murdered through strenuous physical labor, electroshock therapy, sterilization and even lobotomies. There have been a variety of ghost sightings here, including a man being pushed in a wheelchair by a nurse!

Northern State Mental Hospital closed its doors in 1976 after the State Legislature cut off funding.  - photos by: Chad Lyons