history of Eloise actually begins in Detroit where a vote of
the people on March 8, 1832, under the name of Wayne County
Poor House, named the institution County House Infirmary. It
was then located on Gratiot and Mt Elliott Avenues. After the
county purchased The Black Horse Tavern, a Detroit-Chicago Stagecoach
stop in 1839. This became the location of the second County
Poor House. Of the 146 people living in the original Poor House,
only 35 transferred to the new location. The other 111 refused
to go into what was than mostly wilderness. Eloise is often
referred to as Eloise Sanatorium, Eloise Hospital or even The
Crazy Hospital. The Sanatorium was applied when the hospital
opened a out-door treatment center for tubercular patients.
The name Eloise Hospital was adopted by the Board of Superintendents
of the Poor on August 18, 1911. It would later become, again,
The Wayne County Asylum. The term "Eloise" was originally
used because the United States Government set the Post Office
located in the general office building and it was named Eloise.
Later the name Eloise was applied to the Michigan Central Railroad
depot here, the American Express Company located here, and the
Detroit, Ypsilanti & Ann Arbor road, all became known with
the name Eloise attached.
1880 the Institution Consisted of two main buildings, the
Third County House, the Wayne County Asylum; and a barnyard
was situated between the two buildings. The picture above
illusrtates the appearance of the complex at that time.
But Why Eloise?
to the year 1894, there were no post offices, express offices,
or railroad offices, located at any institutions. This slowed
deliveries in the Wayne, Westland, and Detroit areas and the
Superintendent motioned for a post office located at the County
House May 1, 1894. The Postmaster General at that time, approved
for the location, however to avoid any annoyance to his Department,
he established the order that all newly established post offices
would have only short names, or names of one word, and none
could resemble closely to any other within the State. Freeman
B. Dickerson, recent postmaster of Detroit, was then President
of the Board. He was largely responsible for getting the new
County House Center built and was very interested in the establishment
of the post office. His only living child, a daughter who was
four years old was called Eloise. Members of the Board submitted
the name Eloise, which was than sent to Washington and approved.
On July 20, 1894, the post office was established under the
name Eloise. (Eloise Dickerson, later married and became the
wife of Harlow N. Davock of Detroit. She died in 1982 at the
age of 93.)
Else did Eloise Have?
Eloise evolved over time and expanded and by the 1930's there
were 78 building on almost 1,000 acres of land. It was a self-sufficent
community within Westland Township. It had it's own dairy farm,
piggery (or pig farm), greenhouses, a fire department, power
plants, bakeries, and its own Post Office. The main building
called "N Building" was over 380,000 square feet and
housed 7,000 indigent persons. Over 3,000 of them working throughout
the large complex.
photograph above was taken in 1893, whih shows for the
first time the first artificial lake to the left; the
new "F" Building in the extreme left; and to
the right, the Asylum Building, the Adminstration and
Chapel Building, the Third County House, the Carpenter's
Shop and the County House Barn. In the foreground is the
windmill and the pump house. Michigan Avenue appears as
a one-lane dirt road transversing the Institution.
was not only a General Hospital and housing unit for the poor
of Wayne County, but it is commonly referred to as the "Crazy
Hospital." Eloise was a facility for mentally disturbed
patients. In the small Eloise Museum located inside of the Kay
Beard Building still standing on Michigan Avenue are artifacts
including leather arm restraints. Eloise also had a section
for a morgue. There is said to be 7,145 former Eloise residents
buried in the old Eloise Cemetery, which is located on the South
side of Michigan Avenue, just across from the Kay Beard Building.
The last burial is said to have occured in January 1948.
Keeper's residence had originally been located in the west end
of the main building. However in 1865 it a new structure was
approved to be built for the keeper and his family. The building
was drawn up by James Anderson and built by Henry Metz by contract.
The building had a frontage of 46 feet and was 37 feet wide
and also two stories high. The first keeper to live here was
A.L. Chase. This building was also used by the Board for meetings
and office space, located on the second floor. The previous
portion of the main building that had been used by the keeper
and his family was turned into bedrooms, a dispensary, and nursery.
1876, there were buildings for the Insane Asylum. The name used
for these buildings was the Third County House.
1839, there was also a school district with a school house located
on the property. There were several children in the County House
at the time it was first opened in Detroit who's parents had
died from cholera, and the County House was their only home.
In Section 52 of Chapter 2 of the Laws of 1838, it stated that
the Superintendent of the Poor in every county were obligated
to look after the education of all children between the ages
of five and sixteen. Therefore a room was set aside and apart
where the children would assemble for school. In 1859, an old
building that had been used during a small pox epidemic, was
made into a schoolhouse. The next year the Board erected a schoolhouse
along Plank Road. Legislature later passed a bill stating that
the Wayne County Farm, used for the benefit of the poor, would
be named a school district, and should be numbered by the School
Inspector of Nankin. This would later be named School District
No 10 of Nankin, and entitled to the school money provided to
all the other school districts. The first teacher here was Chloe
Walker. She was replaced in October of 1862 by Harriet Chase.
The building however was destroyed in a fire, and the school
had to be run again from the main building. The Board elected
to not erect a new schoolhouse located on the property as another
was being built in the area. The children on Eloise property
began to attend the State Public School in May of 1874. The
number of children inside the community here outnumbered the
limit to be excepted by the Public School and by 1880, they
had to erect a separate school building . The last recorded
money recieved for school purposed was in 1887. There were at
times after 1887 that the State School could not take in the
extra number of children from Eloise, and the Superintendent
was in charge of educating those children that could not be
placed or adopted out. The Board approved a $5,000 appropration
for a seperate "cottage" to be used for the children.
They were to be completely seperated from any of the inhabitants
of the main hospital area. The cottage was never built because
massive and quick steps were taken to place every child in other
institutions. The State Public School and State Institutions
were from then established to take care of these existing children
and those that would become orphaned or outcast.
schoolhouse built in 1880 was later used for special cases of
male patients in the County House and later as a laundry for
the Asylum. The building was located on the north side of Michigan
Avenue at Merriman Road.
1825, the grounds in and around the Wayne County Poor House
(or Eloise) were almost completely covered by trees of all types.
Many of the older white oak trees stood over 130 feet high.
These woods of course housed many wild animals such as fox,
lynx, deer, bear, and wolves as well as other smaller animals
and birds. Joseph Moss surveyed this property for the Government
for the laying of Military Road. It would extend from Detroit
to Chicago and was then an old Indian trail.
Torbert family built a log house along this "road",
cleared the land, and cultivated a small farm. In 1839, the
County purchased the Torbert cabin, which Torbert had named
and used as the Black Horse Tavern. They also purchased the
280 acres, four cows, a yoke of oxen, and vegetables seeds from
Torbert to run a farm for the County. In June of 1840, 2 horses
and a harness were added and that August, 3 plows, a fanning
mill, and other farm tools were purchased. The first farm report
to the County Commissioners produced the following:
bushels of corn, 35 bushels of beets, 180 bushels of rutabagas,
28 bushels of peas, 55 bushels of oats, 14 bushels of onions,
and 2 bushels of pickles.
the time the County purchased this property, there is said to
have been 2 log buildings located north of the log house (or
Black Horse Tavern). One was a barn and stable and the other
was a shed for teams of animals. There is some indication that
the shed would later become a mental health institution. The
barn remained standing until 1886 and then was sold for its
lumber and hay. In 1875 a grain barn was built south of the
Michigan Central RailRoad, which was 56 feet long and 46 feet
wide. Another barn was built in 1886 for hay, grain, stock,
and other tools. It also had a horse and cow stable, and a wagon
shed. This structure was 144 feet long and 36 feel wide. In
1886 an addition was added for a dairy, and a silo was added
1896 the County built another barn northwest of the County House
originally intended for use by the Asylum farm. In 1884 a new
root cellar was constructed and was built between the bakery
building and the gas house. It was 52 feet long and 20 feet
wide and divided into seperate bins for vegetables and fruit.
Another root cellar was built to house tubers in 1895. It stood
on a small hill. It was torn down in 1922 to make room for a
small street. In 1935, an underground root cellar was completed
east of the farmhouse and South of Michigan Avenue. This was
40 feet wide and 100 feet long, housing almost 5,000 bushels
of produce. A second underground root cellar was built in 1942.
the beginning of the County House's existence, the farmers were
the keepers. In 1842, T.T. Lyon was offered the position as
keeper and farmer but claimed he would starve to death on the
salary of $300 a year.
investigative committee was formed during the Civil War period
to establish the need and importance of the County House. The
farm embraced 280 acres of land of which 180 were good for cultivation.
60 acres were cleared, well-fenced, and useful for pasturage
and 40 acres in timber land. They reported it to be a good arrangement
for farming with a house and out buildings situated in the center
on the south side of the Rouge River. The River was reported
to be a valuable supply of water to the stock and to the house
and washrooms. They also found, however, that the population
of the paupers was not sufficient to run the entire farm and
that renting or leasing out work on shares of the land would
be advantageous. In short, the committee felt to take away any
of the farm would injure the value of the surrounded community.
1872, they purchased 157 acres adjacent to the land which was
owned by the Cady family for use of the Asylum. There were at
this time two seperate keepers. One was the Keeper of the Asylum
and one was the Keeper of the County House. There was a competitive
feeling between the two Institutions and the Keeper of the Asylum
felt there would be a more leveling of administration if this
farm was placed under their direction. In 1893, Dr. E.O. Bennett
took charge of the Asylum and the Cady Farmland was placed under
his jurisdiciton. In 1897 a new wire fence was built around
both farms and all fields, and a deep well was sunk as well
as a windmill and large tank. The two farms remained seperate
and distinct from one another for several years. It wasn't until
1908 when they discontinued this, and both became a single unit
and remained so until the function of farmkeeper was discontinued
additions and enlargements were made after the purchase of the
Cady farmland. 2 henneries were constructed; a blacksmith shop
was installed in 1915; and several piggeries were built. In
1889 a County piggery was built north of the County House barn,
but had to be removed in 1913 to make room for a railroad trestle.
In 1895 an Asylum piggery was built north of the Keepers residence,
but was dismantled in 1917. Cement piggeries with also constructed
in 1917, a half of a mile south of Michigan Avenue.
panoramic view of the Institution was taken in 1907. It
was taken opposite of the Administration and Chapel Building,
with the Fourth County House and the County barn to the
right; to the left are the Asylum Building and Building
"F" and "G." The road in the immediate
foreground leading to the farm area on the south side
of Michigan Avenue was the forerunner of theroad which
ran under the viaduct of the Michigan Central Railroad
When Did Eloise Become the Wayne County
was no distinction between the rational and the insane inmates
in the County House until March 22, 1841. It was this date,
that the first of five patients were registered as insane, her
name was Bridget Hughes, an Irish immigrant. She remained a
patient here until her death on March 8, 1895. It is likely
that she is buried among the indigent in Eloise Cemetery.
these first years, there was at least one and possibly two building
located northeast of building "C". They were constructed
to house the psychiatrically disturbed. The County House was
at this time the home of the criminally insane who were sent
from the Detroit House of Corrections. For several years, the
County House was the only place for an asylum in the State of
Michigan. The only division of patients in the County House
was by sex. Other than that, babies, old men, the blind, as
well as the insane, were all housed together.
with the assistance of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors,
insistant on legislation regarding the insane, an act was passed
creating a State Asylum in 1848. The first asylum was planned
on ten acres of land in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The County House
never showed an interest in having a seperate psychiatric asylum
on the property. However, they did continue to care for the
insane and house them as best they could. In 1859, the Michigan
Asylum in Kalamazoo was ready to receive a limited number of
female patients. However, they indicated that only the "curable"
patients would be housed here.
the years the number of insane people housed at the County Poor
Farm increased until it was so intolerable that the Hospital
Board, determined to make an effort to provide a seperate building
for the insane patients, approved the establishment in 1867
of a seperate building.
1868, a two-story brick building was erected which was 42 feet
long, 35 feet deep, with 57 feet of frontage. It was located
290 feet west of the Main County House. East and West wings
were added in 1876 and in 1881 the management of the Asylum
was transferred to a professional physician. Dr. E.O. Bennett
and his wife were employed as Medical Superintendent and Matron.
After serving 19 years Dr. Bennett retired, and was replaced
by Dr. John J. Marker.
first act, was to erect a second Asylum Building. It was the
1882, the population of the Asylum was 307 patients, 224 of
them resident patients. In 1887, a special building was contructed
which combined the insane wards, the adminstrative headquarters,
and the chapel. In 1885, the State of Michigan passed a law
for the insane which basically stated any insane person continuously
housed by the county of two years or more would became a State
charged patient thereafter. This law was amended in 1891, stating
that any insane person committed by a judge could be commit
directly to the Wayne County Asylum. However, none would be
confined there, if there was room in the State Asylum. But the
State Asylum, could return patients to the County when their
beds were full.
was a devasting fire in 1892 at the Eastern Michigan Asylum
located in Ypsilanti, and a large number of patients were moved
to Eloise. The following year was the purchase of the Cady farmland
and a "Women's Building" was erected west of the First
Asylum Building. Over the years there were additions, updates,
and more buildings added to the Main Asylum area. By 1907, alcoholics
and drug addicts were maintained in State and County Hospitals.
The population in 1913 was 576, with an employment of 22 males
and 44 female attendents. By 1923, the population had grown
to 1,700 patients, and additional buildings were erected. The
first in 1921, another in 1923 with a new dairy barn and enlargment
of the power plant, one in 1925, one in 1928 and one in 1929.
last psychiatric patient to leave Eloise was in 1979. Inside
of the Kay Beard Building still standing on Eloise property
is a small museum run by Frank Rembisz, the director of the
Wayne County Office on Aging.
view was taken in 1919, which shows Michigan Avenue paved
for the first time, the enlargement of the artificial lake,
the water tower behind "E" Building, the Power
Plant smokestacks to the right behind "E" Building,
and the trolley station just south of Michigan Avenue. The
Asylum Laundry may be seen to the left between the Asylum
Building and "F" Building. The double residence
building also stands out. Part of the County barn may be
seen through the two trees on the extreme right; the pumping
station may be seen in the left foreground.
[ These pictures presented from "A History
of the Wayne County Infirmary, Psychiatric, and General Hospital
Complex at Eloise, Michigan" by Alvin C. Clark; pages 122-124.]