The Male Department Area

Located just south of the centerline (marked by the water tower), this area included The Male Department, Burns Cottage, and The Clinical Pathology building. (Click on the tags at the end of this post to see all posts including a particular building.)

The Male Department was one of two Kirkbride Plan buildings constructed at the asylum, the other being the original structure, which was redefined as the Female Department once the Male Department was built. By the time the original asylum was completed in 1869, the asylum was already running out of space for patients, so the Male Department was completed by 1872.

Unlike the area behind the Female Department, where most of the asylum’s service buildings were constructed, from 1860 through 1948, there were only Burns Cottage and Clinical Pathology behind the Male Department. (Much earlier, there had been a barn and the first ice house.)

Circa 1975: Burns Cottage in the foreground and the Clinical Pathology Building in the background. The Male Department is to the left and not visible in the photo. (Courtesy Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections)

Below are a comparison of a 1970 map, a 1950s aerial view, and a 2012 satellite view. 

Aerial view, 1955: Oakland Drive bottom, Male Department center, Clinical Pathology (left) and Burns Cottage (right) behind the Male Department, and Mary Muff Tubercular Hospital at the top right (addressed in the "Center Line Area" overview).  (Courtesy Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections)

The same area in 2012.

The North End

1959, looking southwest from the intersection of Oakland Drive and Oliver Street: There were six major structures north of the Female Department, which is in the upper left corner of this photograph. Immediately next to the Female Department is Monroe Cottage. At 10 o'clock is Potter Cottage. At the center is Van Deusen Hospital. Below that is the H-shaped Linda Richards Nursing Hospital (still standing). Toward the lower right corner, at the intersection of Oakland and Oliver, is Montague House (still standing). On the upper right side is the Herman Ostrander Building. (Courtesy Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections)

1950s vertical aerial view: At bottom, Oakland Drive. At center, Van Deusen Hospital. Clockwise from upper left: Monroe Cottage, the greenhouse, Herman Ostrander Building, the H-shaped Linda Richards Hospital, and Potter Cottage left of center. The gatehouse cottage (still standing) is in the lower left corner.

2012 satellite view, looking northwest, turned to match the orientation of the two photos above. To compare with other photographs, use the H-shaped Linda Richards Nursing Hospital. I place Monroe cottage in the area directly to right of the WMU College of Health and Human Services building, partially visible on the left (in the green patch/oval driveway area). Long story short, it's all parking lots and roads now.

1957: The back of the north end, looking northeast, reversing the view of the 1959 photo above. The vantage point is approximately over Stadium Drive, south of Oliver Street. Clockwise from center top: Linda Richards Nursing Hospital, Van Deusen Hospital, the roof of Potter Cottage, Monroe Cottage, the greenhouse, Herman Ostrander Building. (Courtesy Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections)

1984: The back of the north end, looking east. This photo shows the relationship of the three largest buildings to the intersection of Stadium Drive and Oliver Street. In the zoomed photo, the Herman Ostrander Building is almost completely hidden by trees halfway up the left side, with half of Linda Richards Nursing Hospital directly above it. The red brick and white back of Van Deusen Hospital is at the left. (Courtesy Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections)

Circa 1930 aerial view looking north, showing the three largest buildings on the north end.

The Safety Department (? - c. 1939)

The Safety Department was located in the Center Line Area of the asylum, behind (west) and to the south of the water tower. I infer that it was demolished to make way for the rear end of the Quadrangle Building. These photos are all from 1939, during initial construction of that building. (All courtesy Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections)

A unique view of the area around and behind the water tower. From left: The corner of the Male Department, Mary Muff Tubercular Hospital, the Safety Department, the water tower, and a bit of the Industrial Building.

“The Siggins Album”: Clyde and Elsie at the Asylum, circa 1900

This is a selfie of Clyde and Elsie Siggins, who worked at the Michigan Asylum for the Insane in Kalamazoo, around the turn of the 20th century.

Clyde was a serious photographer, and a surviving album of roughly 100 photos provides an exceptional window into the work lives and infrastructure of a vast, 19th century “insane asylum.” (The Siggins Album is housed in the Local History Room of the Kalamazoo Public Library, which kindly allowed me to make high resolution scans.)

The Siggins photographs document the exteriors of most of the structures on both the main and Asylum Lake campuses. They also include many interior shots at both locations. Interior settings include broad galleries, furnace rooms, sitting rooms, dormitories, a wine cellar, etc. along with the staff who lived and worked in them. It’s a fantastic portrait of the relatively young population who served in “live-in” positions at a turn of the century asylum.

Below is a zoom-and-enhance approach to one of Clyde's dormitory selfies, leading to one of his excellent photos of staff in an asylum hall.