Some say that the Eloise Asylum near Westland on Michigan Ave. is one of Michigan’s most haunted places, I am not sure about that claim, but I would say it’s one of Michigan more interesting places, with a lot of history both good and sad.
The place began in 1839 when a log cabin known as the Black Horse Tavern and its property was converted into a poor house and 35 of the overcrowded tenants at the Wayne County poor house in Hamtramck were transferred to the newly constructed buildings. For years it was known as the Wayne County Poor House until a post office was opened in 1894 and named after Eloise Dickerson Davock the daughter of Detroit’s postmaster.
In 1913 there were three divisions: The Eloise Hospital(Mental Hospital), the Eloise Infirmary (Poorhouse) and the Eloise Sanitarium (T.B. Hospital) . Over the years the complex continued to grow with about 10,000 residents at its peak during the Great Depression. It had its own police and fire department, railroad and trolley stations, bakery, amusement hall, laundries, and a powerhouse. It also had many farm buildings including a dairy herd and dairy barns, a piggery, a root cellar, a Tobacco curing building, and employee housing.
Eloise was one of the first if not the first hospital to use x-rays for diagnosis performed by Dr.Albarran. Patients came from Detroit and other communities to have x-rays done. It also housed the first kidney dialysis unit in the State of Michigan and was a pioneer in the field of Music Therapy.
The other part of Eloise that remains, are the cemeteries and with a complex that had about 10,000 people living there, death was a regular occurrence. There were a few different locations that the bodies of the patents and residents of the poor house were buried. One of the cemeteries is about a mile away down Henry Ruff road and is nothing more than a field with small stone markers engraved with only a number for the body buried below. It seems rather cruel and inhumane that a person is remembered as a number and not even a name was placed on the marker. They used the cemeteries up until 1948 after that a law was enacted to use the bodies as cadavers for medical training. ( was not able to get a pic of the markers since the cemetery is fenced off and says no trespassing, and I really don’t want to go to jail)
The farm operations ceased in 1958 and some of the large psychiatric buildings were vacated in 1973. The psychiatric division started closing in 1977 when the State of Michigan took over the psychiatric division. The general hospital closed in 1984. Many of the buildings are gone and some of the property has been redeveloped into a golf course and condominiums. There is a Michigan Historical Marker near the parking lot, and currently the main building is up for sale.
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