RTC demo process started, door left open; 5/8; Fergus Falls Journal
Don’t allow city to become shell of what could have been; 5/7; Fergus Falls Journal
Agencies quibble over RTC demo paperwork; 5/4; Fergus Falls Journal
RTC Preservationists rally as demo deadline approaches; 5/2; Fergus Falls Journal
City’s RTC grant options clarified; 5/1; Fergus Falls Journal
Fight to Keep Kirkbride in Fergus Falls; 4/30; KVRR Fox Fargo Moorhead
History and Photographs
The Fergus Falls RTC story is one with national implications, and concerned citizens from across the country are getting involved. We’ve collected a few letters from those people, addressed to the Fergus Falls City Council, on the merits of preserving the Kirkbride.
10 Most Endangered: Fergus Falls RTC
Listed on PAM’s 2011 10 Most Endangered Historic Places, this provides a rundown of the facility’s history, as well as steps you can take to aid its preservation. Here’s an easy one: Join the Friends of the Kirkbride Facebook group!
Fergus Falls State Hospital: Kirkbride Buildings
A brief history and photo tour of the Fergus Falls RTC from a site specializing in Kirkbride-style hospitals across the country. It notes that, of the three state hospitals built in Minnesota, Fergus Falls remains the only building within any connection to Kirkbrid’s famous “bat wing” style.
Remaking an Eight Hundred Year Old Hospital – And We Can’t Deal with a Hundred Year Old One?!
Barbara A. Campagna, who spent 30 years working to preserve the Richardson-Olmsted Kirkbride in Buffalo, New York, discusses the fate of the Fegus Falls RTC in juxtaposition to St. John’s Hospital in Belgium, which, despite being built in 1270, still stands. If Europeans can turn 800-year-old churches into vibrant landmarks, surely Minnesota can find a way to preserve the RTC.
Kirkbride in Color
From Flickr user Robert Louis comes an extensive photo collection from inside the RTC. The images are simulateously beautiful and haunting, detailing every inch of the space from clawfoot tubs to attic doors.
Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center Virtual Tour
This photo gallery drives home just how massive the RTC and its grounds are, documenting not only the tower, but the various wards, the cemetery, even the nurse cottages. Sadly, there are also photos of early demolition. But with so much left to save, you should come away truly energized.
Asylum Projects: Fergus Falls State Hospital
A Wikipedia-style history of the Kirkbride, featuring text from a 1916 report on the hospital. For instance: The first men were transferred to Fergus Falls from St. Peter on July 30, 1890. Almost 120 years later, a bolt of lightning struck the center steeple, starting a fire. If you were that old, you’d catch fire too.
Fergus Falls Hospital, August 25, ’95
That’s how the caption announces the rising of the RTC from this 1895 photograph. The facility would not be completed for another 12 years, and yet it’s already a monumental structure.
MNFilmTV Youtube Channel
With over a dozen videos dedicated to the RTC, you owe it to yourself to check out the good work they’re doing. They’ll answer your questions and walk you through the buildings. Even more, they’re willing to give you a few ideas as to what the RTC could be used for. Such as…
Here’s a short photo-and-music video, once again showcasing the architecture of the RTC. What’s incredible is how unique each building on the grounds is. This isn’t simply a historic structure; it’s a historic neighborhood.
A longer video tour gives you a sense of space in the building. The staggered wings make every section seem separate, yet the majority of the structure in connected. The idea behind this innovative (and later discredited) setup was for the building itself to be part of the patient’s cure.
The Kirkbrides HD Vimeo group has created features on four different Kirkbride-style facilities. Needless to say, while the RTC is in good condition, it looks even better in high definition.
The Traverse City State Hospital (in Traverse City, MI), a similar facility built in the “asylum” era, is being transformed into a mixed-use space with restaurants, an arboretum, shops and trails.
Similarly, the former South Dakota School for the Blind is now Buffalo Ridge Resort, which features a hotel and campground, all while preserving the architecture of the original campus.
Of course, the RTC is a valuable resource, whether or not it ever develops storefronts or commercial space. In West Virginia, the Trans-Allegheny Asylum is open seasonally for tours (and haunted tours!)
State Hospital Resources
Minnesota State Hospital Records Request
For those of you looking to do serious research on residents of the RTC, the Minnesota Historical Society offers records requests. They’re not free, but it’s a valuable window into the past, and helps drive home just how important a role these state facilities play in the progression of our state.