If you’ve seen “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” you may recognize this stunning building as its primary location. The 1975 movie was shot on location at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, with the willing participation of actual doctors and patients.
“From its inception, in 1883, The Oregon State Hospital, called then, The Oregon State Insane Asylum, was considered a safe place where the virtually “insane” would go,” reads mentalhealthportland.org. “In 1880, legislature passed an act in Oregon allowing creating a state run psychiatric facility or Asylum. In the late 1800’s, a person would commit a crime, be mentally incapable of taking care of themselves, or a burden to society; an outbreak of anger, destruction, and an inability to function within their community might cause a family to place a member of their family here in order to receive “treatment” and hopefully get well.
“Treatment” could mean back then being placed in a straight jacket given medication and group therapy. It could also mean that they would be restrained for a period of time and given limited freedoms. The Oregon State Hospital and its history enclose details about their history of being one of the best mental institutions for care. Meaning that those giving “Treatment” for
those termed physically and mentally abusive to themselves or others could mean that a patient would receive immediate care. Care would also entail group therapy, which includes the care from nurses, wardens and staff.”
Over time, other hospitals opened to prevent overcrowding here. But at its peak in 1958, Oregon State Hospital, it housed 3,545 patients.
It now functions in part as a history museum, highlighting the changes in mental health services over the years.