Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Traverse City State Hospital Historic Tour!

Hey there everyone!

I recently had the amazing opportunity to take the historic tour of the old Traverse City State Hospital. The tour was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see parts of Building 50 which will soon be completely renovated. It was surreal to be walking through the different buildings, rooms, tunnels, and just think back to the history that the building has stored within. While we're talking about history, here are a few facts about the State Hospital I bet you didn't know. Well maybe you did, but I didn't. If you're interested in taking a historic tour, the details are available at their website at

1.  The Traverse City State Hospital was opened in 1885 and took less than two years to be built. (Crazy, I know)

Photos © John Stocki

2.  At its largest occupancy, the asylum was home to over 3,000 patients and 500 staff.

Photos © John Stocki

3.  Patients were housed in the main building according to severity: the less severe lived towards the center of the building while the most disturbed (who were either a threat to others or themselves) were housed on the outlying wings of the building.

Photos © John Stocki

4.  There is approximately 400,000 square feet of total floor space in the main building, cottages and outlying structures.

Photos © John Stocki

5.  Building 50 is close to a half mile in length and was the first building in Traverse City with electricity.

Photos © John Stocki

6.  In order to obtain state tax credits, re-developers (The Minervini Group), must renovate to specific historical guidelines. Learn more about their development plans by visiting

7.  The tunnels were for patients and staff to use during bad weather and tunnels for the heating, sewage, electrical, etc. Many tunnels collapsed over time as they were not built like the archway type structure the Romans used. (The style you see in the photo below and the style that you can expect to see on the tour)

Photos © John Stocki

8. The walls of the Hospital were painted using lead paint, so during certain parts of the tour they ask that you wear little booties and be extra careful not to touch the walls or take any paint chips with you.

Photos © John Stocki

9. I don't know any more facts. Enjoy the last photo!

Photos © John Stocki

For you photography geeks out there. All photos were taken by me using a Nikon D7000. Lens: Nikon DX 18-105 - 3.5-5.6G. Post-edit: Adobe Photoshop with HDR rendering. If you want to use these photos, they are for sale, please email me at for photo rights.

Sources: Erin Crowell - Features & Listings Editor at Northern Express

Cheers everyone. Thanks for reading! Almost time for the beer gardens to open!

- John


  1. Those are the best photos I have seen of the interior. What a great post!

    1. Thanks Sara! It was a great tour and I would highly recommend trying to do one yourself!

  2. Great photos! Thanks for sharing. Went to the web site but couldn't find an info. Bummer. Would love to go shoot a few hundred photos myself.

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