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Minnesota Historical Society: National Register of Historic Places — A Minnesota Sampler

MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

The Fergus Falls State Hospital Comlex was built to alleviate overcrowding at the Minnesota Hospital for the Insane in St. Peter (1867-78) and the Rochester Asylum for Inebriates (1873), as they were then called. You can read about it in this Minnesota sampler of sites that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fergus Falls State Hospital Complex

Location: Minn. Hwy. 297, Fergus Falls, Otter Tail County
Built: 1888-1907
Architect: Warren B. Dunnell
Landscape Architect: Horace W. S. Cleveland
Listed on NRHP: June 26, 1986

The mid-19th century saw the establishment of Minnesota’s first state institutions: normal schools, state prisons, asylums and hospitals. The construction of the Fergus Falls State Hospital Complex was intended to alleviate overcrowding at the Minnesota Hospital for the Insane in St. Peter (1867-78) and the Rochester Asylum for Inebriates (1873), as they were then called.

The large, U-shaped complex in Fergus Falls embodies the design theories of Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, author of On the Construction, Organization and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the Insane, first published in 1854. Kirkbride’s plan called for a central administration area and superintendent’s residence, flanked by patient dormitory wings with setbacks to allow maximum light and ventilation. The Fergus Falls facility, still used as a state hospital, is dominated by an eight-story central tower, flanked by two four-story octagonal towers with mock balustrades. The St. Peter, Rochester and Fergus Falls facilities were all built on the Kirkbride plan; the Fergus Falls facility is the only remaining example in Minnesota.

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