Western State Hospital is the biggest mental facility west of the Mississippi River, located in a suburb of Tacoma. Despite its enormous size, a sister site, Eastern State Hospital near Spokane was built to handle overcrowding issues in the facility during its early days of operation. Washington State Hospital was originally known as the Fort Steilacoom Asylum when it was opened in 1871. The facility was housed in buildings that were originally used by the U.S. Army at Fort Steilacoom (which operated as a post between 1849 and 1868).
Brutality, abuse, neglect, and generally poor living conditions characterized the patient’s lives when Western State Hospital originally operated in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Electroshock therapy and a variety of other scary “therapies” (like lobotomies) were regularly performed on patients at the facility.
Ruins of the Western State Hospital buildings can be seen at Fort Steilacoom County Park in Lakewood, Washington. Hill Ward is the building that is located in this area and it was used as a dormitory for some of the least violent patients at the facility. It was then converted into a search and rescue training facility after 1965. Currently, the ruins are surrounded by chain link fencing and razor wire. There are rumors that satanic worship takes place in the ruins. Gang activity is also rampant in this area.
The famous actress Francis Farmer spent time at Western State Hospital after getting addicted to alcohol and amphetamines. She wrote a biography later that detailed information about the trauma of electroshock and insulin shock therapy.
On March 25th, 1947, a fire consumed a portion of Western State Hospital and 230 “inmates” were removed and one man died.
Other Related Haunts:
Check out the Northern State Hospital for the mentally insane in Sedro Woolley as well as the Martha Washington School for Insane Girls in Seattle if you’re interested in creepy insane asylums in the state of Washington.
GenDisasters (2010).Steilacoom, WA Insane Asylum Fire, March 1947. Retrieved October 17, 2012 from http://www3.gendisasters.com/washington/15312/steilacoom-wa-insane-asylum-fire-mar-1947
WeirdNJ, Inc. (n.d.). Weird US: Western State Hospital. Retrieved October 17, 2012 from http://www.weirdus.com/states/washington/local_legends/western_mental_hospital/index.php
Wikipedia (2012). Western State Hospital (Washington State). Retrieved October 17, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_State_Hospital_%28Washington_State%29
9601 Steilacoom Boulevard Southwest, Lakewood, WA Washington 98498, USA