Northern State Hospital

I have long been fascinated with the story of this hospital since I moved to Sedro Woolley in 1994.  I worked there in the Job Corps clinic but was only allowed to go to the clinic but could see some amazing building and grounds.  I used to drive home via Prairie Road and loved it.  Thankfully we were able to buy a farm on this road that I love.  I subscribed to the Skagit River Journal and read its history of the mental hospital.  I bought and read the book Under The Red Roof: One Hundred Years At Northern State Hospital.  We visited its cemetery on Halloween.  We visited its publicly accessible agricultural area on Fathers Day.  We visited the Sedro Woolley museum where they had some history, photos and objects made by its patients.

Recently the ownership of the site transferred from state to local control for development, but also with the hope of preserving the buildings that are salvageable.  That meant that the objects in the buildings had to be sold.  My husband got to go into the buildings to bring objects out to sell for his employer Skagit Building Salvage.

He brought home a sign and a drainage grate from the operating room.

Toms items

And then McMillan’s Auction had an online auction for many of the items.  I ended up bidding on four objects and winning them.  I had to pick them up last Wednesday afternoon which ended up taking a while (which is why the ham cooked longer than expected).  But I got to see the buildings I had always wanted to see.  Here are some of the photos I took.


I did see the patient rooms including one with a hospital bed and one with a bathtub.  I did not take photos of them though.  We were not allowed to go upstairs to where the operating room was.

So here are the objects I bought.  The numbers from the patients’ rooms.

patients door numbers

A peephole from a patient door and plugs for the peepholes.  We believe these were handmade from wood from the property.  The doors were quite thick wood.

door peep holes

Chairs from the cafeteria and a table.  We think the table was handmade at the hospital too.

cafeteria charis and homemade table

This is a closet door that a patient painted his art on.  I would love to know who this was.

painting on closet door

On the other side of the closet door is a swastika and REBLE.

swastika and REBLE

There are also lots of other scratches and some faded writing.

faded writing and scratches

So my fascination continues.  I look froward to seeing some of the old buildings renovated, and they are supposed to open a museum there too.

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4 Responses to Northern State Hospital

  1. Jeanne says:

    How very interesting! Fun for you!

  2. John Horne says:

    The closet door is actually from Pioneer Center North. We had a lot of the amour/closets stored over there.
    I have a Facebook group called Friends of Northern State Hospital if you’re interested in more of the history.

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