Eloise Asylum

Eloise Asylum is a huge part of my life. As the Asylum Attendant, this is the only home I will ever know. Lately, Eloise has been on my mind a lot. I thought I would share a little history behind the asylum and of course some creepy photos. Eloise began as a poorhouse in 1839 in Westland, Michigan. At first, Eloise had very few residents (only 35 to begin with). ย Gradually, the grounds were expanded and more and more people came to live here. By 1868, a separate building was erected to house the insane. This was the start of the asylum. At its height, the Eloise complex sat on 902 acres of land and housed about 10,000 inmates, I mean patients. Forgot for a minute whether this was an asylum or a prison… Eloise was essentially its own self-sustaining city. It was huge and had a schoolhouse, fire/police department, bakery, powerhouse, railroad station, and even an amusement hall. Many of the staff lived on the grounds. There was no need for anyone to leave Eloise for anything, which was great because you wouldn’t want the general public to know what was really going on behind the iron gates. An elaborate tunnel system was constructed under the grounds as well. This made it possible for attendants to transport patients from one building to another. Looks like fun, huh? Overcrowding quickly became a problem at Eloise, but it was fine because some patients just ended up sleeping on the floor. 125 women would have to share 5 toilets. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was used on patients at Eloise starting in the 1950s. I have read that it can help people with severe depression, but knowing that ECT electrically induces seizures in people is unsettling to me. I don’t care how safe people try to make it sound. I’m not buying it. No wonder some of the patients made their own shanks for protection… There was also television therapy. We still use that today to control unruly children and entertain the elderly. Sad, but true. Birthdays were also celebrated in the asylum. The bakery produced cakes for patient’s birthdays, which was a sweet thing to do.ย An interesting fact that I discovered about Eloise was that a patient pageant was put on in 1936. I don’t know what it involved, but that sure sounds like a strange thing to occur at an asylum. Patients putting on a show… I can’t decide if that’s cute or super messed up. At least Eloise had cool sewer lids. Eloise closed in 1984 and most of the buildings were demolished. A few still remain and they tell a story of pain and despair. I know that not much about mental illness was understood during the asylum era, but I am shocked at the way the mentally ill were treated in the past. Locked wards, leather restraints, spinning chairs, lobotomies…how was this allowed? It was allowed because society didn’t care. As long as the insane (or the bothersome sane people) were removed and out of sight, it didn’t matter what happened to them. These patients suffered alone in silence and I think their story deserves to be told. I won’t let Eloise be forgotten. To lighten the mood, here is an Emilie Autumn performance. I think it’s relevant since I’m discussing a Victorian insane asylum. She’s pretty much responsible for my love of all things asylum-related. Who doesn’t love crazy girls dancing around in corsets and copious amounts of glitter? Good times.

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18 thoughts on “Eloise Asylum

  1. I think that this is probably your best post so far. ๐Ÿ˜€ Interesting, unique and well-researched. I always look forward to future posts from you.

    Can I just say though, isn’t it a bit odd to see Miss Autumn appearing on a TV show? xD

    • Thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€ I could just go on and on about Eloise…

      It is SO odd to see EA on TV. I can just imagine normal people drinking their morning coffee, staring in horror as she sings about suicide and masturbation. lol This aired on my local news station as well, which was pure awesomeness. I may actually watch the news now.

  2. I’ve been told about Eloise just today, we passed it on the way to drop a friend off at home. The whole place was mesmerizing. Have you seen it in person? I’m not even into the whole supernatural thing, as I think it’s unrealistic, but when we passed by the remaining buildings of Eloise I felt I absolutely HAD to stare at it. Didn’t really help the fact that I was the driver but.. You know.. Shit happens. I was just drawn to it. I sound crazy don’t I? Whatever I guess. I’ve been researching the place for about 2 hours now online. Not much on it sadly, this post did help though!! I love Emilie Autumn by the way! Gorgeous human being!! ;A;

    • I’m glad my little blog was helpful. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been to Eloise in person quite a few times. I’ve touched the buildings and walked the grounds. People say they can feel pain when they touch the walls. Very intense. You don’t sound crazy in the slightest. I became obsessed with Eloise after first learning about it from my mom. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Eloise Cemetery? It’s where thousands of patients from the hospital were buried. I’ve visited that place as well and found some disturbing stuff. I wrote a blog post specifically about the cemetery that you can find using the search bar above if you’re interested. It’s hard to find information about the asylum, but it’s really fascinating. I feel a strong urge to keep the history of the place alive and not let it be forgotten. I think Emilie would be proud of that. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Just be careful if you go to visit Eloise. The place is guarded by security, so you can only walk around in front of the buildings. I’ve been caught in the back and told to leave before, but that doesn’t stop me. lol ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • I was a patent there quite a few times properly 2 years in total they strapped me on a gurney I was living on the second floor at D building the elevator went to 4 floors and the basement they went over my paper work for my first shock therapy treatment and found my parents did not sign permission forms so the treated me with thorosine 1000 mg a day

  3. I went inside to visit a patient my aunt and I knew when I was a teen, back in the seventies. It was so unnerving. This girl was in there because when she was on her monthly period she would get out of control and fly into a rage, ripping doors off the rooms in her parent’s house where she lived I was told. As we walked through the long hallway the large prisonlike doors with bars would open then slam down behind us once we passed through. they were very loud. When we finally got close to the room where we would have our visit with this girl all the female patients there seemed hyper aware of our presence and started to walk toward us at the same time mumbling and speaking incoherently. They were beginning to close in on us and just in time we turned and walked into the visiting room where we sat down for our visit and when it ended we left pretty much the same way we went in. during our visit I recall this poor girl repeating the words “I don’t belong here”. it was a haunting experience and a very sad one.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I really hope that the girl you visited found some peace and lived a happy life. I’m fascinated by the real accounts people have shared with me. I believe that many of the patients there did not actually belong there. That place has a dark and sad history. I feel so bad for what people suffered through there.

      I just learned that they will be filming a new movie at Eloise. I don’t know how I feel about that. I want the asylum’s story to be told, but I wonder if it’s better left as a secret.

    • Do you remember what year you was in there? How was you treated? My grandpa was in there in the early 1930’s I guess he died there too. Do you happen to know if there is anyway that you can still get the medical records from there at all ? Cause my family would really like to see them. That was my mom’ s dad and she is still with us at the age of 94 and doing good at her age.If you possibly get back with me when you can about the questions that I asked you that would be wonderful…

      • Hi,

        I’m sorry to hear about your grandpa. The Westland Historical Museum keeps historical archives from Eloise. Their phone number is 734-326-1110. I’m sure they would be happy to help you in your search for medical records.

        I hope this helped! Thank you for commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hello, I am a professional photographer and my photo titled “Through the Gates of Eloise” (full color image at the top of this post of the Kay Beard building, formerly part of Eloise Hospital), is being used on this blog post without my permission. Copyright information on this image can be viewed at https://flic.kr/p/8NHavt. Please remove my photograph from this post without delay. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at the email address provided. Thanks in advance for cordially resolving this matter.

  5. I worked at Eloise in the J building back in 1983. My Grandmother was there back in the 30’s because she was born with heart issues and at that time they had no idea how to treat her. One day my Grandpa said he went to visit her and a different doctor pulled him off to the side and said to get her out of there because they were just experimenting on her. As he was getting her ready to leave, the other doctors and nurses were yelling at him that she wouldn’t make it through the night if he takes her home and she lived 5 years after that. When I worked there I was a teenager. The place looked like everyone dropped what they were doing and walked out. There were still rooms with beds, linens, GLASS bottle Iv’s hanging from poles and medical stuff laying everywhere. The tunnels smelled so bad you could smell them while standing outside in the parking lot. It smelled like rotting cabbage. One day the Board of Health showed up and wanted to look around. There were two men and two women dressed very nice with clip boards. I showed them around and then showed them a door to the tunnels that was just across from my office. They opened the door and each one took a turn peaking their head in and then writing on their clip boards. I looked in just to see what they looked like and it was a mess. Cob webs everywhere, one light on WAY at the end of the tunnel and various garbage laying all around. I saw an old time school desk and a chair turned over and the smell was like something or some one was rotting in there. There was also a very ice cold breeze blowing through the tunnels and the webs were waving in the wind. It was something right out of a horror movie. I’m sure that was nothing to the horrors that actually went on there back in the day. I toured the place with my Sister, Daughter and her friend years ago. They were just about to remove the smoke stack at that time. The bricks from different buildings were crumbling and falling to the ground so I took two as a souvenir because I know the great history of this place and how little is left is disturbing. Someone was going to make a movie about Eloise but I don’t think that ever happened. I loved working there. Plus it was great to work for Wayne County at the time because they were paying 3 bucks higher than Min wage so everyone I knew was making 3.25 an hour and I was getting 6.25! Sad to see it in such shambles. It’s really something that should have been preserved and used as a museum.

  6. Thank you for sharing your very fascinating story. I’m so glad your grandmother got out of there. It makes me sick to think of how many were tortured and mistreated. I’ve heard the tunnels are horrifying. They’re like a maze and you can easily get lost in them. Someone found the morgue before. Eek! It’s so strange to me how the buildings were just abandoned and things weren’t cleaned up or anything. Patient medical information was just left behind out in the open, which is a total breach of confidentiality. They were filming the Eloise film last Spring/Summer on site in Westland. It should be out soon. Now the world will know about Eloise.

  7. The world will never know about Eloise from the movie that was filmed there. It is a B rated horror movie and it doesn’t even touch on what a magnificent place Eloise was in her heyday. The movie is about some kid who is supposed to get an inheritance when a rich uncle dies. It is far from a documentary.

  8. I drive past the D building every day to work. Before I even knew about Eloise I used to stare at it and get a creepy feeling. A short time after that my dad was a carpenter for the movie Eloise. And got to go inside. i also just looked at my moms birth certificate and it states that she was born in the city of Eloise. I find that creepy

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