Contributed by Byron Olson, transcribed by Stan

[Table of Contents]  [Part 1]  [Part 2]  [Part 3]


On Saturday afternoon the new Clark County Insane Asylum was formally dedicated with very appropriate services. The day was ideal for such a ceremony and an immense throng of visitors attended the event. The county board went from their spring session to the asylum and this institution, which was "dedicated to the cause of humanity" was formally turned over to the county. At noon a very fine luncheon was served to the county board members and others in the large dining room of the asylum, and here, at 2:30 in the afternoon, the dedicatory program was given. Brief addresses were given by W. J. Rush, K. Andrews, Senator Smith and Assemblyman John Verkuilen, and vocal solos were rendered by Mrs. Wollenberg of Greenwood and Mrs. Lawton of Owen. In addition the Greenwood and Owen bands were there and rendered appropriate music. The asylum was then transferred to the asylum committee: W. J. Rush, John Verkuilen and Theodore Thompson.

The new asylum is easily one of the most modern of its kind in the country, for it is the last word in construction for this purpose. The asylum is built on a thousand acre farm two miles east of Owen. It consists of three large wings, each three stories high. The main wing is the administration building, which will house the offices of the superintendent and his living apartments, complete with a formal dining room. On the first floor of the wing is the auditorium, which will seat 250 people. On the second floor of this wing is the main dining hall, which will seat approximately 130. On the third floor are the living quarters of the employees and also the general hospital of the asylum.

The right wing of the building will be given over to the women inmates of the asylum and in construction is identical with the left wing, which will be given over to the men. Every part of each of the three wings is absolutely fireproof, the construction being entirely of re-enforced concrete, brick and steel. The only wood used in the entire building is that in the doors and windows and casings.

The rooms of the inmates are light and airy and comfortably furnished with a good bed, rug and radiator. Every room in the three wings is an outside room, so that there is not a dark room in the entire building, with the result that the patients at the institution will be cared for in the most pleasing manner and under conditions which should be of vast benefit in their ultimate cure or relief. Each of the two patients' wings, open through a connecting stairway to the dining room, the auditorium and to the hospital. At the rear of the dining hall is the kitchen (the kitchen as it looked in 1972), which is a particularly efficient one. It contains its own bakery, its own refrigerating plant and other labor saving aids (photos). Elevators in each of the right and left wings run from the first to the third floors. There is no basement in the building, construction being started on the ground. Tunnels, however, conduct the steam pipes, the wiring, etc., beneath the first floor.

At the rear of the building is the steam and heating plant. This building houses three large boilers, the fuel vaults, the laundry, the greenhouse and the garage. A sidetrack from the "Soo" railroad touches the rear of the steam plant. This plant also furnishes heat for the modern hog-house, which is adjacent.

The stock barns are at the rear and east of the main building. A fine cow barn (the same barns in 1972), two hog barns, a hen house, machine sheds, etc., complete the farm equipment. Every barn is equipped with steel stanchions, stalls, etc., and are models of their kind.

The asylum will comfortably take care of 250 patients, though probably 260 can be cared for. The administration wing is 46 x 223 feet, the two other wings, being 46 x 216 feet. Some idea of the vastness of the undertaking may be gathered from the data published by the Streator Brick Co., which furnished the Shaletex brick. Into the construction went 4,400 cubic yards of concrete for foundations and skeleton construction; 76 cars of hollow tile for slab filler, etc.; 210 tons of reinforcing steel and 100 tons of structural steel; 15 cars of Indiana Limestone trimmings and 10 cars of mill work; 400,000 Shaletex brick went into 27 cars.

Much of the credit for the wonderful completeness, efficiency and beauty of this splendid undertaking must be given to the superintendent, M. H. Duncan, and his wife. Mr. Duncan was hired by the county before any work of any nature was commenced and he has been on the job from the very first. He came to Clark County from the Marathon Co. Asylum and his experience there gave him splendid ideas, which could only be worked out in an entirely new structure. He and his wife have worked hard and faithfully that the new asylum should be a model of its kind for the entire country and the completed building speaks in the highest terms of praise for their work and ability. The county board asylum committee has also done excellent work and deserve commendation for their work and interest. The committee was headed by W. G. Royer of Owen until his death. It is now made up of Herman Portz, H. M. Root, P. E. Peterson, with District Attorney Jacobson, county Clerk Ole Andersen and County Chairman, F. M. Pickett as advisory committee.

The plans for the institution were drawn by Claude & Starch, Madison architects; general contract by Hutter Construction Co. of Fond du Lac; Foundation by E. F. Bauman of Monroe; Heating by Paul E. Mueller Co. of Milwaukee; Plumbing by American Heating Co. of Superior; Water Tower by Chicago Iron and Bridge Co.; Sewage Disposal by Universal Engineering Co. of Eau Claire; Landscape Artist, A. F. Aust of the University of Wis.

Source: THORP COURIER (Thorp, Clark County, Wis.) 06/15/1922




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