Topeka State Hospital opened in 1872 to treat habitual criminals and the mentally insane.
It was known for having relaxed admissions procedures that allowed the admittance of people who suffered no medical condition. By the 1900s there were horrific reports of patient mistreatment, such as those being left in restraints for hours, as well as rape and dehumanizing acts. According to one reporter, there was even a patient whose skin had started to grow over their straps on their bed because they’d been there so long. The place was also infamous for forced sterilizations.
The hospital closed in 1997 due to years of abuse and overcrowding. Many of its abandoned buildings remain, as well as a cemetery with an estimated 1,157 unmarked graves.
Update: The central building pictured, was torn down and obliterated in 2010; there is nothing left of it, even its concrete slabs are gone.
Know Before You Go
The central building pictured, was torn down and obliterated in 2010; there is nothing left of it, even its concrete slabs are gone. There are a few buildings left from some of the later years of the hospital period, but they are not really remarkable, were built much later, and are either boarded up or thoroughly repurposed. A number of other local corporations and nonprofits are buying and leasing sections of the land, building on the land, and renovating buildings. The campus is a wonderful place to bicycle, but the spectacle of Topeka State Hospital is quite gone.