Who Remembers the Asylum That Used to Be in Michigan’s U.P.?
It's funny how you accidentally learn about the history of your current state of residence.
As part of a New Year's resolution, I'm attempting to read more books. I started with one written by a Michigan author: The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne.
The story is fictional but starts off in an asylum in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The author makes a note at the beginning of the book that says something (I don't have the book in front of me) along the lines of, "This book is set in the Newberry State Hospital in more current times but, it was a real place that closed in the early 90s."
If the author is reading this, I beg your forgiveness for butchering that note.
I haven't finished the book yet (even though I am loving it) but, it stirred my curiosity about this long-forgotten asylum that used to reside in Michigan's U.P. Was it real? What was its story? And so on.
Was it Real?
Yes. It was constructed in 1895 and was originally known as the Upper Peninsula Asylum for the Insane.
By 1911, the asylum's name was changed to Newberry State Hospital. It consisted of a nursing school, a main hospital, and at one point housed thousands of residents. This is according to lostinmichigan.net.
The hospital would close in 1992, although I can't find a specific reason why. Like with most state-run facilities, I'm assuming it had something to do with budget cuts.
What Did it Turn Into?
When the facility closed in '92, it meant that about 300 people were now without a job. That kind of sudden loss of income, especially in a place like Newberry where the population was just over 1,800 people, can have a disastrous ripple effect.
According to a 1995 article from minneapolisfed.org, 15 other businesses in the area closed around the same time as the hospital. So, the community was desperate for something that would bring income into the area.
When a proposal for a correctional facility was presented, people were both receptive and interested.
The prison created 270 jobs and still stands to this day. Although, a few of the older, unused buildings were torn down in 2021. Read more here.
Is it Haunted?
This always seems to be the first question when tales of old, abandoned hospitals are brought up. From what I can tell, no. Or, if it is, stories about those hauntings are not readily available online.
I did find a post from Detroit Paranormal Expeditions from 2020:
While it doesn't point to any specific paranormal experiences, people in the comments shared their stories about their connections to the old asylum if you'd like to check them out.
Can I Tour the Facility?
You'll have to contact the Newberry Correctional Facility to ask that question. You can spot the prison from the road,
But, there are also "No Trespassing" signs everywhere. So, my answer would be no. Don't do that.
If you're paranormal interests must be satisfied, there are plenty of haunted spots in Michigan. Including another asylum...