Xtreme Xplorations

Modern Ruins

Bangor State Mental Hospital

Bangor State Mental Hospital

Name:  Bangor State Hospital (a.k.a Dorthea Dix Psychiatric Center)

Location: Bangor, ME

Current Status:  half active/multi-use

Background:  A special thanks goes out to the staff at this beautiful facility for giving me the grand tour.  Bangor State hospital opened July 1st 1901 as the Eastern Maine Insane Hospital overlooking the beautiful Penobscot River in Bangor, ME.  At the start of it's construction in 1985 at a cost of $250,000 it was the largest construction project in Maine's history.  Once open, to keep costs down and as a part of the therapy treatment patients were responsible for the general maintenance of the hospital such as the keeping up the grounds, growing crops, doing laundry, mending clothing and fixing furniture.  Also as a part of the cost saving structure attendants and nurses were required to not only be single but live at the hospital as well.  The hospital even generated it's own electricity at the time.  However, after only a year in operation the facility quickly became just as crowded as the Augusta State Hospital it was meant to relieve.  Patients doubled up in single rooms, slept in hallways, and basements even going as far as having to erect tents in the summer of 1905.  More simple illnesses were becoming harder to treat alongside more serious ones.  Shortly after additional wings to the hospital began to span out from the original structure and the hospital population grew to over 600 patients.  Over the years the population and the hospital continued to grow finally peaking at 1200 patients in the 1950's, however relief was on the way.  With the advent of new psychotropic drugs, more minor mental illnesses were able to be easily treated outside the hospital and without patients being required to remain at the hospital for treatment.  Today, the hospital is still in use however it's populations has decreased dramatically to less than 100 beds.  The majority of the building itself as well as surrounding structures have seen reuse as city offices or other outreach type programs and the active hospital sections of been renovated to reflect a more modern hospital.  However, there are sections of the hospital that are no longer in use and remain as they were when the hospital was in full function and contain several relics of the past acting like a giant time capsule of medical history.  There are talks every few years of closing the hospital however with the building being added to the national historic registry in 1987, the hospital may eventually close but the history will hopefully remain.