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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Haunted California - Agnews Developmental Center

Location: San Jose, California, USA (ZIP - 95134)
Operation Time: 1885 - 1972 (converted to clinic with developement disabilities)
Type: Not Kirkbride Plan

The hospital was originally opened as the Great Asylum for the Insane in 1885. During the San Francisco quake of 1906, the center became infamous as the site of Santa Clara Valley's greatest loss of life resulting from the earthquake. Some of the patients escaped the demolished asylum. In all, 117 patients and staff were killed from the disaster, and were all buried in mass graves on-site. The asylum was rebuilt and reopened around 1911 as Agnews State Mental Hospital. The new facility was like a self-contained town (it had a farm that raised pigs and vegetable crops, a steam-generating power plant for heating, and a fire department). At the time, the village had the largest population in the South San Francisco Bay area, and even had its own train station (until fire and vandalism led to its demolition in the 90s). In 1926, another campus was built about 2 miles to the east of San Jose. It was designed for people with developmental disabilities (they were first admitted to a special rehabilitation program in 1965). The center supported programs for the mentally ill until 1972, when the facility converted over to exclusive care for people with developmental problems.

Key Points
  • Originally opened as "The Great Asylum for the Insane" in 1885.
  • Was the greatest loss of life from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, killing 117 patients and staff.
  • All of the victims were buried in mass graves on the site.
  • Reopened as Agnews State Mental Hospital in 1911.
  • Had self contained town.
  • Opened another campus 2 miles east of San Jose in 1926.
  • Became a disabilities center in 1965, and treated the insane up until 1972.
  • Still operates today.

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