Hastings Regional Center

 

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

Disclaimer: If you try to visit this site, there are still patients in some of these buildings, not all are abandoned! Only some of them are abandoned, and they do have frequent vandals and will call the police! I highly suggest if you are interested in taking pictures to call, email, and ask permission. There are patients in this facility who deserve respect, privacy, and decency.

I visited this facility in early November, 2015. I drove onto the property, my window rolled down, enjoying the brisk unusually warm autumn air. Two of the buildings had full parking lots, so I parked, and climbed the steps up to the massive building. The door opened to tiny waiting area, where a woman sat behind a glass window. She smiled warmly as she pressed the button to speak, asking for the first and last name of the patient I was there to see. I explained why I had come, and asked who I should speak to for permission to take photographs of the abandoned buildings on the property.

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

Her smiled receded, she asked me to have a seat while she called one of her colleagues. After a hushed conversation, she instructed me to walk across the parking lot to one of the other buildings, and gave me a name. The next woman I spoke to shook my hand, and gave me permission to photograph everything on the grounds with the exception of two or three buildings. She gave me directions to find the cemetery and showed me the grave markers, which are flat brick-like stones with only numbers (one pictured below). I was given a timeframe to roam the grounds alone and photograph whatever I wanted on the outside of the buildings and the cemetery. I drove down a the dirt road to the cemetery, and parked next to the hedges. The sunlight filtered through tangled branches, shining in creamy patches over the numbered stones. I stood over the vast field, scanning the endless rows of flat stones, chipped and faded over time. There were so many people, patients, loved ones buried with only a number to mark their identity. At the head of the cemetery stood a large grave marker reading: for all that was, for all that might have been, grant us rest and peace. Surrounded by colorful rocks, and a bench for loved ones to have a place to sit. I said a prayer for all of the lost, all of the displaced, and all of the wronged souls.

Hastings Reg Cem4

Hastings Regional Cemetery-Numbered Gravestone-Eklund

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

The photo above of the window is one of my “happy accidents” I discovered as I started editing. I almost cut my shadow from the bottom corner, but with the rich shadows of the black and white I thought it added so much more depth and emotion to the photo -almost like one of the patients from the past coming back to check in. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Hastings Regional Center -Eklund
Hastings Regional Center -Eklund

There are tunnels beneath the buildings, which most hospitals have, but I was not given access to them. The grounds for this facility is quite large, so I barely had enough time to photograph everything. At some point, I will ask permission to go back and see if I can take more detailed photos, including the tunnels and the interiors of the buildings. Of course I will have to plan ahead this time. 🙂

Hastings Reg Center 1-2016-Eklund

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

Stories floating around on the internet about this place are mostly negative, as they tend to be about most mental health facilities built around the same time-frame. The people I spoke to when I visited were friendly and cooperative. When I visited the facility in Norfolk, I became physically ill, and experienced overwhelming emptiness and sadness. The only two areas I really felt anything similar at the Hastings facility was at the cemetery and near the prison. I left with the impression the people who run the facility now do an excellent job of taking care of the patients.

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

 

Hastings Regional Center -Eklund
Hastings Regional Center -Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

 

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-EklundCemetary-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

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When the facility first opened, it received inmates from the hospitals in Lincoln and Norfolk who were thought to be incurable, and the name of the Hastings hospital was “Hospital for the Incurably Insane,” (which I read to have also have been the name of the Norfolk facility). The name was changed to “Asylum for the Chronic Insane” in 1895, 1905 to to “Nebraska State Hospital,” in 1915 to “Ingleside Hospital for the Insane” , then to “Hastings State Hospital” and finally in 1971 to its standing name of, “Hastings Regional Center.”

Hastings Reg Center 1-3-26

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Hastings Regional Cemetery-Eklund

Hastings Reg Center 2-2016 Eklund

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center Cemetary-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center Cemetery-Eklund

 

Hastings Regional Center Cemetary-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center Cemetary-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

Hastings Regional Center Cemetary-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center Cemetery-Eklund

 

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center Cemetary-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center Cemetery-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

“Maybe it’s true what Thomas Moore said: “It is only through mystery and madness that the soul is revealed.” -Susannah Cahalan, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

Hastings Reg Cem3

Hastings Regional Cemetery-Eklund

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

The building below is still surrounded by razor wire from being used as a prison, although it now sits abandoned. I could have fit through the opening in the gate, but settled for my photographs on the outside. I prefer staying out of jail. 🙂

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Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

The photograph above is one of my favorite shots and the building itself was the most captivating. I would start walking away, and something would draw me back. One more shot of the window over there. Another picture of the porch from a different angle. Even after I drove away from it I went back for another series.

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

Instructed to make beds, sweep floors, clean furniture and launder own clothes, patients took care of most of the janitorial work. The people on staff were: an engineer and his assistant, a steward, a bookkeeper, a farmer, a gardener, four supervisors (two male and two female), and no other doctors other than the superintendent. The patients were primarily cared for by the ward attendants, who lived on the wards, only off half day per week. The patients also did most of the farming and dairy work. The farm was available for the hospital to feed itself.

In the 1920s-1930s, a tuberculosis ward was at the hospital, although I am not sure which building. In the early 1920s, electro-shock treatment began. Fever therapy, hydro-therapy, and insulin-shock therapy were also used in the ’20s and ’30s. Prior to the 1920s, when the first dentist was hired, the patients/inmates dental problems were gone untreated.

In the 1950s psychiatric drugs were discovered and introduced into treatment of mental health, including tranquilizers. They began a program of rehabilitation with psycho-therapy, occupational therapy, industrial therapy, vocational therapy, reality therapy, religious therapy, and behavior modification.

The Hastings State Hospital was turned into two Unit Hospitals, psychiatric and alcoholic, in July, 1963. I’m not sure which two buildings. In 1987 the south end of the campus was turned into a minimum security prison, and now sits empty.

Hastings Regional Center Cemetery-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center Cemetery-Eklund

 

 

Hastings Regional Center Cemetary-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center Cemetery-Eklund

 

Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund
Hastings Regional Center-Eklund

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Former Prison Building-Eklund

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Former Prison Building-Eklund

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Hastings Regional Cemetery-Eklund

Hastings Reg Cem2

Hastings Regional Center Cemetery-Eklund

Hastings Regional Center -Eklund
Hastings Regional Center -Eklund

Trish Eklund is the owner and creator of Abandoned, Forgotten, & Decayed, and Family Fusion Community, an online resource for blended families of all types. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska, ListVerse, Nature Takes Over and Pocket Abandoned. Check out the new Bonanza Store for AFD merchandise! Follow on Instagram and Facebook. Trish is regularly featured on The MightyHuffington Post Divorce, and Her View From Home.  She has also been featured on Making Midlife Matter, and The Five Moms, and has an essay in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz.

Trish 12-15

Categories: Abandoned Nebraska, Abandoned PLaces, Hastings Regional Center, NE, Nebraska, Nebraska Abandoned Asylum, Paranormal, Rural Nebraska, Trees, Trish Eklund, UncategorizedTags: , , , , , , , , , ,

45 Comments

    • Hi Judy, if I remember right, you turn right in the entrance and then left, drive straight back past the building to the trees, and it will look like just a field. It isn’t a field, there are no headstones, just the flat number markers. I know what the buildings look like you need to drive toward, but I’m not sure how to verbalize it on here, ha. Drive past the canteen and the other buildings like you are going toward a mess of overgrown brush and trees, keep going until you get to the trees.

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  1. Becky

    I started working at “HRC” in 1982 when I was 18 and worked there for 16 years. A lot of the building have been torn down over time. I started in housekeeping and eventually learned to be a ward secretary. As you drive in past the tennis courts the first Bldg to the right was Bldg 3 which houses psych patients. To the left were 2 blogs where nursing students lived back in the day but had become apartments that staff could live in on campus. As you drive farther in the short bldg was the administration bldg and as you continue to drive the bldg on the left was bldg 7 which was the drug & alchol unit. I worked in both bldgs. The church is in the middle behind that was the recreation bldg for the patients. As you drive further south towards the Cemetary there is an entrance to the kitchen which is underground and access through the tunnels where the food delivery uses to the bldgs. There also had been a large bldg in the middle that was the office of housekeeping. As you continue to go south the maintenance bldg is on the right also the laundry and greenhouse and power plan. Did you know a banana tree that was growing in the greenhouse was taken to the Henry Dooley zoo for the rainforest exhibit? As you come back to the prison bldg which actually houses immigrant violators, the bldg north was a canteen and store bldg. the bldg behind admin on the north side of the circle was bldg 4 which houses elderly, dental, pharmacy and the morgue. It was a great job you become comfortable a view the patients as people. HRC lost their Medicare funding as families wanted their people not in institutions this now we have group homes and homeless mentally ill on the streets. It’s a very sad situation. Patients back in the early 1900’s did so the work and it bear against the law to have them work and this they just walked around and smoked. Thanks for the memories it was quite a place in its full operating days and people thought you had the ebay job ever working for the state. Made me stay in government for my future job! I was spoiled by the benefits. Becky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Becky! What experiences you must have had there!! I have to say when I was there, the woman I met with was so friendly! She told me exactly where to go, explained so much about the property, and gave me quite a bit of time to explore. I really enjoyed it. I would go back anytime they would have me.

      I know that so many of these places have witnessed some horrible things, but they are not just the creepy, bad places people make them out to be. They have also been places of healing to some. They have also been home to some.

      Thanks so much for sharing! Super cool about the banana tree. 😊

      Like

      • Renee

        My mom worked in housekeeping in the 80’s (I think in bldg 3) and eventually became the telephone operator, until she was laid off. My step dad was the head of maintenance and my grandmother worked in the kitchen until she retired at 77. It seems my grandmother worked in the drug and alcohol building in the kitchen but I may be mistaken. Becky I clearly remember your description of the grounds.

        My mom and step dad lived in the staff buildings, that have since been torn down. As kids I lived with her in the summers. I can remember making Iced Tea on a hot day for some prisoners, either removing or planting a bush in front of our apartment building, when I was 8 years old while my mom was at work. They were not considered high risk inmates and were close to being released. I also remember playing jacks for hours on the hallway floor of the Staff Apartments. They were perfectly smooth. In the evenings my mother would take my brother and I roller skating in the tunnels as they had smooth concrete to skate across, much better than the outdoor sidewalks. My mom would use the tunnels on rainy days to walk to work. The rent was really affordable and the apartments had such amazing charm to them. I remember not being allowed outside when my mom was at work. ( I got in a little trouble for making the Ice Tea)

        The patients had two donkeys they took care of. Their names were Mike and Ike. We would have lunch at the canteen and I loved looking around the store. Yes the patients were viewed as people. I remember attending a softball game there on the grounds. I think most patients really did have the freedom to be outdoors. I have many wonderful, warm memories and am sad the facility is not used to it’s full potential anymore.

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  2. Derek Shewchuk 204-298-0110 (text)

    Hi
    Back in 1971-73, our family lived on the grounds of the Hastings Regional Center. My father was a Psychologist at the hospital. I remember him saying the rent was so cheap to live on the facility…something like $25 per month. It was an interesting place to spend a couple years. There were several doctor’s families and about 6 kids to hang around with. There were the Abberts..Lance and Valerie, the Pleitez’s..Melvia and Lili, and Dr Lee and her daughter Helen Byuon. We played in the large field in front of the two (or three ?) resident apartments. The canteen building had a large circular slide style fire escape which we would climb from the inside then slide down…repeatedly…all day. I remember being afraid of several patients, as they were mentally ill in some way that was hard for a 9 year old to make sense of. I recall almost being coerced by a patient to go into an unused building. He said there was a pool table we could play on. As i entered the building with the patient, I remember my parents frantically calling me from the window of our apartment. I often wonder what would have happened to me. I recall Vietnam war veterans with stitches on their heads most likely in for a psych assessment. I had a mini bike and a dog, we would ride in a nearby farmer’s field. I remember the tall corn field to the right of our apartment. I returned to the hospital for a visit in 1998 and not much had changed, except for the building being used as a jail. I wonder if it is still possible to visit and walk around. I would like to show my kids this part of my history. That place is always in the back of my mind. I have some old photos if you are interested, I can copy and send.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Derek S

    I will round up some pictures. Most are pics of family and friends but some will show ordinary life in an extraordinary place.
    Yes, I have felt that someone was watching over me the time I was almost tricked into going into the building ( the one to the left of the canteen building)…might have been raped or killed, that was always my underlying suspicion but who knows, maybe not. Most of my experiences there were good. Parents did split up during that time though…maybe some bad omens? Strange, as that place still kinda haunts me. Oh, I forgot to mention the tunnels. We would go down there daily..mostly from our apartment to the laundry area. We were warned that patients would get lost down there so the was some fear of exploring too far. Looking back, I think most of the patients were harmless. I think it is so cool that you took those pictures.
    Are the apartments still standing? From google earth, it appears that they are no longer there.

    Regards
    Derek

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Phyllis Lane

    My grandmother was in the mental hospital from 1940 until she died in 1953. Are there any records of these patients? I would like to know her diagnosis and any treatment she received, I only met her one time when I was about 6 or 7. We lived in California and it was to far to go. I enjoyed all of the pictures and wondered what part of the building she was in.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Noah E

    Great article! I recently learned via findagrave.com that my great great grandma who was an immigrant from Switzerland was buried at the cemetery here after she died in the year 1800 at the young age of 44. The only mark on the grave is the alleged number 1023 which I find so sad. I don’t know why she was instituted, but it may have had something to do with her husband’s untimely death 4 years earlier. Does this institution still carry medical records from its earliest years, and would I be able to access them? Very little is known about my great great grandparents so I’m looking for answers 😦

    Like

  6. Grandma Kate

    I just went to the Hastings Regional Center for the first time yesterday. My cousin who lives in Hastings drove us around. My grandmother lived there from about 1920-1965, the year she died. We didn’t know she was alive . My mom kept her existence from us. I am going to try for a court order to get her records. We were told by another sibling that she suffered from post partum depression. Very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are still a couple of buildings that are open with current patients in them. I’m sure they will still be available to family members. Even for facilities such as Norfolk Regional Center that are now gone, they have to maintain the records so you can obtain them as long as you follow the proper channels.

      Like

      • Great-Grandma Alma

        Wow!! That was a quick response!! Thank you, Trish!! Is it difficult to obtain records from facilities like this? I am a great-granddaughter of a patient there. Actually, my great-grandmother died at the facility after having only been there for about 5 weeks.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Roxan

    Thank you for sharing your pictures. I think both of my Grandmothers and an Aunt may have rec’d treatment there.

    One Grandmother and her daughter had TB, This Grandmother died in 1937, and her daughter, my Aunt died in 1939. I only assume they were treated at this facility.Her husband and son moved from their farm to Hastings, but only the 2 of them were in the 1935 census. My Grandmother’s obit gave her last address as 818 E. Park St, Hastings, NE. ?Was this address near this hospital?

    My other Grandmother rec’d treatment there for encephalitis ~1942. I understand she got shock treatments. She recovered and lived a nice long life!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, more than one relative! You should totally get their records and do more research. It was so common back then for people to stay in these places for medical reasons. Thanks so much for sharing! Can you believe that shock treatments are still done in some severe cases of depression or bipolar disorder or extreme psychosis at some places? I suppose for some it could be helpful, I just can’t imagine. Thanks again for sharing with me!!!

      Like

  8. Great-Grandma Alma

    Thank you for the information….and for sharing the great photographs!! They are probably the only ones I will ever see.

    Like

  9. Kay T

    I shared a long while ago on Facebook that I knew someone who had schizophrenia and was there at Hastings Regional. His doctor wrote a book on schizophrenia and I read it, but it was a loner book. I think the doctor was Doctor Mendel or something like that, he was well known from what I heard. Does anybody here know who he was? I’d like to find that book, it had some good points in it. I heard that Dr. M. died about 30 years ago.

    Like

    • Hi Kay! Was this on my Facebook page? I hope I didn’t miss your comment! I will look into this for you! Someone in my family has Bipolar disorder. I’m currently in a class for family members and it is very helpful so far. PM me if you would like some details. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

    • Renee

      I definitely remember there being a Dr. Mendel that worked there. Though that is all I know. I am sorry I’m not much more help. Just enough to let you know there was a Dr. there by that name.

      Like

  10. robert fidone

    Just found this. Are the building still standing? My grandfather was there and died there. I once called and they told me I would need a court order to find his grave number. I would like to go there before they raze the building and perhaps get a hold of his info.

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    • There are still some buildings with patients in them, but as far as the abandoned buildings go the last I heard they were set to be demolished. I requested to be allowed to photograph them again and I was denied. I was told they no longer allow anyone to photograph the grounds. They could try to make you get a court order, but I think it’s worth it to find out more information on your grandfather. Please let me know if I can help.

      Like

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