The Wood County Hospital Part II: The asylum finds a home
By Kris Leonhardt
It was November 1909, and the proposed Wood County asylum did not have a site. Six months of work had resulted in two solid weeks of deliberation on what might be the best area of Wood County in which to place the institution.
The Wood County Board of Supervisors was now down to four locations: the Sampson farm near Wisconsin Rapids, then known as Grand Rapids; the Dupee farm near Pittsville; a tract near Vesper and Arpin; and a site on the Marshfield city limits.
The Grand Rapids location was quickly ruled out as the city was already home to the majority of the county institutions. When a final vote was eventually conducted, 21 were in support of Marshfield, and the remaining 21 were split between the Pittsville and Vesper-Arpin sites.
Marshfield supporters were arguing based on the amount of tax dollars paid to the county by city residents as well as the proximity of the numerous rail lines that would be transporting incoming asylum residents.
In the end, Chairman O.G. Lindemann was allowed to change his vote to Marshfield and give his home city the majority.
The grounds of the new county asylum would be located on the east side of Marshfield and consist of 520 acres. The parcel was created through a combination of land obtained from the Hennes, Schwartz, and Brickheimer farms as well as the Stevens estate.
The land was situated on two separate sides of an active roadway. Part of the site was located in the city of Marshfield, and the other side was located in the town of Marshfield. The land was purchased at a cost of 50 cents per acre.
Appropriation for the purchase, as well as the construction of the $130,000 facilities, was accomplished through the issuing of 20-year bonds at 4 percent with no payments of principal required in the first five years. Sale of the bonds and other legal issues were placed in the hands of a committee consisting of three attorneys.
The newly assigned building committee consisted of Marshfield mayor Robert Connor, J.S. Thompson of Grand Rapids, and George L. Ward of Babcock.
A spring construction start was planned for a facility that could accommodate 125-150 patients with possible expansion.
Next week: The Wood County asylum opens