I had a great visit to the Museum. I got to meet Dr. Rosalie Etherington who organized and runs the museum (in addition to her position as Clinical Director of the hospital). It was not only a very interesting collection that included some items I haven’t seen elsewhere yet (ex. original morgue table) but I also got to hear about the history of the museum’s development and where it’s going next. Spoiler alert: keep an eye on their website for historical documents and photos that will be scanned and posted in the near future!
Dr. Etherington also arranged with security for me to see the Medical Superintendent’s house (which they also rent out for events!). It was really cool to see the interior of the home – it had a lot of the wicker furniture that the patients made which was interesting to see.
The man who gave me the tour was very nice and ended up driving me around the property and explaining the history of the different buildings. It was not only interesting but also helpful: most of the older buildings are now a part of the James River Correctional Center (we actually got followed for awhile by the JRCC security van).
He also took me to the patient cemetery. It’s well maintained and fully mapped. They’re also in the middle of a really interesting project: some of the original grave markers are either fading away, broken or disappearing so the hospital’s current consumers are making new stone markers! They have a few out already and they’re beautifully done.
During my tour Dr. Etherington also told me about some items from the hospital at the Stutsman County Memorial Museum so I ran over there in the afternoon. The Museum is four floors of artifacts related to the history of the area. The volunteer working at the front desk was kind enough to look up the list of items that were donated by the hospital so that I could find them all – the most unique item was a drum set that was made by one of the patients!
So why was stop 11 my last *official* appointment when I’m still all the way out in North Dakota? I wasn’t sure how much energy I’d still have after three weeks of travelling so I left myself the option to either push through to Toronto in a couple of days or take the rest of the week and make a few more stops. As it turns out: I’ve decided to use the time I have so I’m headed for a few more sights!