Detroit Early Asylums

Detroit's First Asylums and Orphanages


Under a special Act of Legislaters, promoters of Charitable Insitiutions engaged in a movement to become incorporated in 1837 as The Ladies' Protestant Orphan Asylum.
The directors were Mrs. Charles C. Trowbridge, Mrs. Robert Stuart and Mrs. Thomas Palmer, and the Asylum was opened in a building donated, rent free, by Cullen Brown, on Beaubein Street, south of Fort Street.
The Institution, although has relocated several times, has remained in operation, with the exception of a 6 year interval, for over 125 years. It's incorporation under the name of The Protestant Orphan Asylum dates from June 8, 1889. At that time, it's location was at 988 Jefferson Avenue.

St Vincent's Catholic Orphan Asylum was later opened by the Catholic Female Association, who had organized in 1834, for the relief of the sick and poor of Detroit. It's organization almost coincided with the Cholera Epidemic that broke out in the city. The parish priest, Father Kundig, took care of 30 children, who's parents have fallen victim to the disease.
In the Spring of 1836, Father Kundig, leased 26 acres of land adjoining the County Farm, which was located on the North side of Gratiot West of Mt Elliott Avenue, and erected a building there. The children were cared for largely by the Female Association, and Father Kundig.
During the Panic of 1837, followed by a depression, Father Kundig went bankrupt and some of his creditors seized the clothing belonging to the 30 children in the asylum.
In 1839, the asylum was closed and the children were distributed to farmers or family acquaintances.
A similar work was revived in 1851, by the Sister's of Charity, who opened a house under the name, St Vincent's Female Orphan Asylum, in an old building on the Southside of Larned near Randolph Street. After 2 moves, they established in a brick building on Randolph, between Congress and Larned Streets. (previously the Bishop's residence) The capacity was 150 and it stayed open until 1876. In July of that year, they moved to a spacious 252 x 260 foot lot on McDougall Avenue between Larned and Congress, with accomodations for 250 females.
The Sister of Charity also open the House of Providence in 1869, for destitute children and unfortuneate women. It was located on 14th Street between Dazelle and Marantette. It was incorporated in 1874.

On June 2, 1857, a meeting of 60 ladies from the First Congregational Church was held to consider establishing an organization to help the hungry children of the city, who went begging door to door. They established The Industrial School, which for half a century was one of the most popular and useful local institutions in the City. It was opened October 5, 1857, in an upstairs room at 26 Monroe Avenue with 16 students. In May of 1858, it moved to the Northwest corner of Washington and Grand River, into a 2-story building. By 1866, there were able to purchase the property and in 1879, were able to completely replace the building with a new 3-story structure. The school was open to girls under age 14 years and to boys under age 10 years. They were taught useful occupations and given an education.

St Anthony's Male Orphan Asylum, one of the more prominent of the early institutions, was open May 26, 1867. It was located on Gratiot Avenune on the Malcher Farm. This was a Catholic Institution, originally managed by trustees, but in 1877, managed by the Franciscan Order.

St Luke's Hospital and Church Home was open by St Paul's Protestant Epsicopal Church in 1861. They were located on Lafayette in 1864, on West 4th Street in 1868, and later on Highland Avenue.

The Boy's Home and D'Arcambal Association was another charitable organization. It was developed from the D'Arcambal Home of Industry for discharged prisoners, founded by Mrs. Agnes D'Arcambal in 1890. After her death, the association was incorporated and began the work of caring for young boys. The boys were housed at first in the Old Biddle House, on Jefferson Avenue, and later moved to Lafayette Street near Third. In 1907, the institution was moved to farmland in Farmington Township.

St Joseph's Retreat, once known as Michigan Retreat for the Insane, located in Dearborn, began in 1860, when Sister Mary DeSales established a home for the insane on Michigan Avenue just west of 24th Street. The grounds were originally used for farming and for convalescents of St Mary's Hospital. In 1870, a brick building was erected, and the institution was incorporated in December of that same year, and later incorporated again, under it's new name in November of 1883. The decision to move to Dearborn was made in 1885, and they opened at their new location October 28, 1886.

By Legislative Act of June 23, 1828, the people of the City of Detroit, were authorized to vote on the question of the Wayne County Poor House. They voted against erecting a new building for this project, however by Acts of June 22, 1830 and March 3, 1831, the Board of Supervisors were empowered to purchase 160 acres of land for a poor farm, and erect a suitable building.
On March 8, 1832, Supervisors appointed a committee to seek a suitable site with expenses of $1,200. The Committee purchased 17 acres from John L. Leib in Hamtramck on March 27, 1832. The site is now the Northwest corner of Gratiot and Mt Elliot Avenues.
Charles Moran and Edmund Brush contracted David French on October 4, 1832 to build a Poor House building. The building itself was 66 feet x 22 feet and 2-stories. The first keeper was J.P. Cooley, who managed for only a year and a half, under the direction of the Board of Supervisors. In 1834, the Board of Superintendents of the Poor, was created, and Rev Martin Kundig was appointed Superintendent.
The Sister's of St Clare were placed in direct charge of the institution until the inmates moved to the 2nd Poorhouse, in 1839.
During Kundig's administration a second epidemic of cholera broke out in Detroit and the Poorhouse was soon filled with children who's parents died by the plague. To relieve the conditions Kundig purchased a site adjoining the County property and erected a free orphan's home.
After Kundig lost everything of value he owned, he still remained Superintendent until April 10, 1839, when the location of the Poorhouse was moved to Nankin Township.
The new location in Nankin was in the middle of a forest and was only a log house formerly known as the Black House Tavern. One rough road led to the house. The Board erected a 2-story frame building East of the log tavern.
In February 1845, a brick building was approved to replace the log house. The new building was 85 feet long by 36 feet wide and 2 and half stories high. One large fireplace heated the entire building. Two cells were constructed for "the unruly" and "crazy". Chains were fastened to the walls to help restrain any violent inmates.
In 1856, the frame building was moved East of the brick building and an extension of 40 feet was added to the brick building. In 1859 a 70 foot by 34 foot wing extending North from the main building was authorized and constructed. Additions and improvements were made until February of 1896.
The entire area was then known as Eloise, which designated the entire group of the Wayne County Poorhouse, the Infirmary, and the Hospital. Later consisting of only Eloise Infirmary, Eloise Sanitorium, and Eloise Hospital.
The Infirmary was the development of the Wayne County Poor House, called Wayne County Almshouse in 1872 and later The Wayne County House in 1886.
On June 2, 1913, it became the Eloise Infirmary. By 1914, the women's annex to the infirmary was added.
The Eloise Sanatorium was a new hospital for the treatment of tuberculosis, by the outdoor method, which opened in 1903, with 2 tents outside, with brick foundations. The first building for indoor treatment was completed in May of 1911 and opened for patients June 6, 1911.
The name Eloise Hospital was adopted August 18, 1911, for the group of buildings devoted to the care of mentally diseased patients, formerly known as the Wayne County Asylum.
Bridget Hughes was the first person admitted as "insane" and she remained an inmate for 53 years.
The first large building was a 2 and half story brick building, consisting of a center structure and 2 wings, one on each side. This was completed in 1869, and the "insane" were housed in the center. The wings were added in 1876. The center eventually was reconstructed in 1899, and another wing was added in 1904 and in 1905.
Building C was first called Women's New Building and erected in 1894. Building D, originally called Women's Insane Hospital, was constructed in 1904. A post office was also established in 1894, named Eloise. (daughter of Freeman B. Dickerson, then President of the Board)


The earliest Hospital in the City to have a continuous existence, was St Mary's, which opened June 9, 1845. On November 6, 1850 the location was Clinton Street near St Antoine.

Prior to 1866, there was a Soldier's Home located in the Arsenal Building, at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Main Street, it was relocated in 1866 to Harper Hospital.

One of the last (of the Early) Public Institutions to open was the Merill-Palmer Motherhood & Home Training School in 1918. It was a training school for girls 10 years old and up, to prepare them for wifehood and motherhood.

YearEnumeration Institution Year Enumeration Institution
1850 27th District Lyons Hotel 1860 Nankin Township Wayne County Poor House
1850 27th District Hillardow Boarding House 1860 Ward 1 The Michigan Exchange
1850 27th District Borriman Boarding House 1860 Ward 1 Baggs Hotel
1850 27th District Hardt Boarding House 1860 Ward 1 Garrison House
1850 27th District Barston Hotel 1860 Ward 3 Detroit Concert Hall
1850 27th District Purdy Hotel 1860 Ward 3 Biddle House
1850 27th District Soldier's Home 1860 Ward 10 US Marine Hospital
1850 29th District 1850 Wayne County Jail 1860 Ward 10 Protestant Orphan Asylum
1850 27th District 1850 Rail Road Hotel 1850 27th District Gilgan Boarding House & Moore Hotel
1850 29th District Haulg Boarding Home 1860 27th District US Arsenal - Dearborn
1860 Ward 2 Merchants Exchange 1860 Ward 2 Blindbury Hotel


Some 1880 Public Residencies & Asylums in Detroit
Enumeration District Ward Institution Name
269 Ward 1 Knight Boarding House
270 Ward 1 Central Hotel
272 Ward 2 McCreery Hotel
273 Ward Sacred Heart Orphan Asylum
275 Ward 1 St Mary's Hospital


1900 Eloise & Detroit

Enumeration District Name of Institution Enumeration District Name of Institution
Nankin Township Eloise Hospital & Infirmary Nankin Township Wayne County Poor House
District 2/Ward 1-Detroit Russell House District 2/Ward 1-Detroit St Clair Hotel
District 1/Ward 1-Detroit Atwater Hotel District 3/Ward 1-Detroit Farras Street Hotel
District 5/Ward 1-Detroit The Lewis Home Metric Institution & School District 1/ Ward 1 Grandall Hotel
Dearborn - Enumeration 180 St Joseph's Retreat



Institutions of Detroit in 1920

Enumeration District Name of Institution Enumeration District Name of Institution
13 McGregory Institute 22 Jewish Old People's Home
28 Grace & Harper Hospital 29 King's Hospital for the Insane
29 Women's Detention Center 30 Women's Hospital & Infant's Home
51 Van Leaven Brown Hospital and School 60 Sister's of Charity
62 Frances E. Wellard Home 75 Home for Old Ladies Heacombs Home
79 Thompsons Home for Old Ladies 80 St Joseph's Home for Boys - 1920 Census
91 Wayne County Jail 93 Phyllis Wheatley Home
93 Florence Crittendon Home 104 Children's Free Hospital
115 Monastery of Blessed Sacrament 162 Helping Hands Home
170 Juvenile Detention Home - 1920 Census 182 Salvation Army Industrial Home
193 Wesley Institute 212 City Municipal Hospital
219 City Tuberculosis Sanitorium 225 German Hungarian Arbieter Home
227 Home For The Aged 242 Sister's of F.H.M.
268 Providence Nursing Home 284 Sister's of Felician Home for Orphans
293 Arnold Home for Aged & Incurable 295 House of the Good Shepherd
296 St. Unreadable Convent & Sister's of Holy 298 St Vincent's Convent
311 Sister's of Charity 319 Providence Hospital & House of Providence
328 St Vincent's Orphan Asylum 342 Russian National Home
344 Samaritan Hospital 347 Salvation Army Rescue Home & Hospital
356 Felician Sister's Convent & Orphanage 379 St Frances Home for Orphan Boys
380 Protestant Wayne Co Orphan Asylum 404 St John's Catholic School
410 West Side Sanitarium 433 German Protestant Home for Orphans & Old People
478 Mute & Deaf Institute 488 St Luke's Hospital & Home
493 Holy Redeemer & Catholic Home 500 Unreadable Father's Institute
557 House of Corrections 558 Industrial Hospital
581 Sister's Catholic Convent & School 585 Pennsylvania Avenue Sanitarium
608 Sister's of Felician Order


1930 Detroit Asylums & Institutions & Eloise


Enumeration District Name of Institution Enumeration District Name of Institution
District 3-Detroit McGregory Institute District 17-Detroit Grace Hospital-Helen Newberry Nurses Home
District 66 Wayne County Jail District 85 Monastery of Blessed Sacrament
District 167 Sacred Heart Convent District 169 Tuberculosis Sanitarium
District 182 Detroit House of Corrections District 230 Pasadena Hotel
District 244 Felician Sisters Convent Orphan Asylum District 245 Felician Sisters Mother House & Novitiate
District 246 Felician Sisters Convent District 254 Sisters of St Stanislaus Parish
District 283 House of the Good Shepherd District 297 Sisters of Charity St Leo's
District 305 House of Providence District 318 St Vincent's Home & School
District 365 St Francis Home for Orphan Boys District 371 Protestant Orphan Asylum
District 372 U.S. Marine Hospital District 384 Sisters of Christian Charity Convent
District 430 German Protestant Home for Orphans & Old People District 453 St Bonaventures Monastery
District 488 Most Holy Redeemer Convent District 503 St Francis Convent
District 599 Fort Wayne See Photo of Fort Wayne Ruines & Map District 1027 - Eloise Wayne County Home & Insane Asylum (Eloise)




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