Clarinda Treatment Complex

(Clarinda Academy)

1800(20) North 16th Avenue, Clarinda, IA

(712) 542-6104

Status: Former Insane Asylum; Former Addiction Center; Former Juvenile Detention Center


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The third hospital for the mentally ill was constructed by the State of Iowa. This facility was opened to alleviate over crowding at hospitals in Independence and Mt Pleasant. Clarinda was chosen as the site in 1884, construction was begun in 1885 and the first patients admitted in 1888.

The hospital was designed to house the mentally ill, criminally insane, alcoholics and drug addicts.

The facility has one of the worst records of all similar institutions in patient treatments. Treatments we consider all but barbaric like lobotomies, electro-shock therapy, cold water therapy and insulin therapy – which were considered state of the art at the time – were heavily used here but there was also limited or bad food resulting in starvation deaths, overuse of restraints and patient on patient (and staff on patient) violence and abuse.

Conditions did improve drastically in the latter 1/3 of the 20th century.

In 2009 Iowa announced that one of their 4 psychiatric hospitals would be closing. In June of 2016 the last patients were transferred, and the facility closed, and all patient services were cancelled.

Sequel Youth Services bought the site and converted it into a youth detention institution. There were numerous reports of inmate abuse and at least one of a staff member raping a client.

In 2021 Sequel shut down the facility – probably just before the State inspectors shut it down – though, of course, they denied the investigations of abuse were not the reason.

It is unclear who owns the site now; possibly still Sequel; but it currently isn’t being used as of 2024.


Paranormal Activity

The nearby hospital cemetery is also reported to be haunted with reports of phantom footsteps, disembodied voices and feelings of being watched.

Reported activity on the grounds and in the buildings: apparitions of former staff and patients; shadow figures; phantom footsteps; disembodied voices; unexplained sounds from whispers to loud bangs; touches, tugs and pulls from unseen entities; electrical disturbances; unexplained mists and misty forms; light anomalies; cold and warms spots and feelings of not being wanted, being watched and not being alone