Status: Operational Psychiatric Hospital
Limited Public Entry
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The need for a fourth insane asylum in Iowa was identified as early as 1890 and the search was begun for a suitable location in the northern part of the state. Many towns put forward their proposals but Cherokee was chosen and the new asylum was opened in 1902 and called the Cherokee Lunatic Asylum.
The early years of the asylum were very unpleasant for both the patients and the staff. The hospital was greatly understaffed with staff poorly paid and only one 1/2 day off per week. Until 1940 the staff were lodged with the patients which included everyone from alcoholics to the criminally insane.
This institution reached its maximum population in 1945 with 1,729 patients with every room and hallway filled to its maximum with beds.
Like most other psychiatric facilities, the 1960′s lead to a massive decrease in population with the invention of anti-psychotics and other drugs allowing those afflicted with mental illness to live in the general population. Today this hospital admits an average of 44 patients a day with an average stay of 25 days.
The south wing has been converted into a prison and the criminally insane patients are now housed there.
The facility is owned by the Iowa Department of Human Services. A museum dedicated to the history of the hospital is in the basement of the main building and open to the public by special appointment.
Apparitions of former patients and staff both inside the buildings and on the grounds. Disembodied voices and phantom footsteps have been heard as well as unexplained bangs and other noises.
Doors have opened and closed on their own. Electrical disturbances have been reported including lights going on and off.
Reports of being watched, unease and of not being wanted and touches and tugs by invisible presences.