History

Kirkbride Hall is full of rich and interesting history dating back to the late 1800s.

Kirkbride Hall formerly know as ‘The Chapel’

There is more to the beauty of the venue than meets the eye. Read on to discover the incredible history that encompassed what has now become a premier event venue.

 

The newly restored Kirkbride Hall is brimming with rich history in both place and name. The structure was originally built between 1883 and 1885 as the Chapel of the former Northern Michigan Asylum. The central Chapel Building, occasionally referred to as a Lecture Room, is characteristic of a Kirkbride Asylum, or those based on a standardized design and construction for mental health treatment known as the Kirkbride Plan. This concept originated with Pennsylvania physician Thomas Story Kirkbride in the mid-19th century.  As a pioneer of the moral treatment of the mentally ill, Dr. Kirkbride intended for these grand structures to be the ideal sanctuary for the mentally ill and act as a participant in their recovery.


The Kirkbride Plan consisted of a center administrative section with wings on either side for housing patients, often referred to as the bat-wing floor plan. The central portion of the building, the administrative section and chapel, represented the body of the bat and the lateral extensions the wings. Each wing was arranged “en echelon” or staggered to allow every patient room abundant fresh air & sunlight. The plan included extensive surrounding grounds as well as many acres of farmland.


Much like the intended use for Kirkbride Hall, the original chapel was used to host a wide range of recreational activities including socials, religious services, dances and concerts. Father Fred, a well-known and widely respected member of the community, was one of many Chaplains at the Traverse City State Hospital. He was assigned in 1959 and among his many lectures, community services and even therapeutic sessions with patients, Father Fred encouraged the Traverse City public to participate in services at the Chapel alongside the patients.


The Chapel was later turned into a Library and its once gorgeous arches were covered by a drop ceiling to conserve heating costs. When the Minervini Group purchased the campus in 2002, it was only the stained glass windows that hinted to the beauty of the room. The plaster details were crumbling and much of the original plaster ceiling was removed by the state, but over the last few years the gorgeous details have been carefully recreated. In mid-May of 2014, Kirkbride Hall opened the doors for its first event. The stunning renovated structure and the history of beauty and humanity behind its name have created a truly remarkable and unique place for people to gather.


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