I first visited Independence, Iowa, which is the county seat of Buchanan County in the northeastern portion of the state, in 2011 and photographed the streetscape improvements in the downtown area (though I didn’t post the photos until 2018). As it turns out, Independence is full of all sorts of surprises, and I will be looking at the town over the next couple of days, starting with this incredibly rare and still functioning complex, now known as the Mental Health Institute, but originally known as the Independence Lunatic Asylum.
This is an amazing intact example of what is known as the Kirkbride style of mental health institutions from the Nineteenth Century.
As can be seen from the groundplan, the hospital or asylum started with a central core and then stepped back in a series of wings.
This institution, designed by Stephen Vaughn Shipman, is an amazing example of the Second Empire style as well, and took ten years to construct.
The building has only been simplified in minor details, and is perhaps one of the best examples of a preserved hospital from the Nineteenth Century in America.
There are also several outbuildings, as well.
This building below was probably built in the early Twentieth Century.