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It operated from 1839 to the early 1980s, and housed not only the mentally ill, but poor and sick people as well. At its prime, Eloise consisted of 78 buildings and 902 acres (3.7 km²) of land. Now only ruins, an unmarked cemetery, sewer lids with "Eloise Hospital" engraved on them, and 4 of the original 78 buildings remain.
Eloise was voted into existence as a poor house by Detroit voters in 1832. In 1839, Wayne county added a former stagecoach stop to the complex. It wasn't until 1911 that Eloise gained its most famous name from the near-by post office. In the 1930s Eloise was running at its best. The psychiatric hospital was self-sufficient, containing a dairy farm, its own fire department, and over 7000 people. In 1984 Eloise officially closed its doors and rapidly went into decay. There are now four buildings standing to this day. The Kay Beard Building faces front to Michigan Avenue. This building was a hospital, in which the patients would live on the top floors, and the nurses and manager lived on the bottom two floors. The manager's office is the first door on your left when you walk in. The other buildings that are left standing is an old powerhouse, built in the 1920s. That is behind the Kay Beard Building. There is a bakery and a firehouse left as well.
During its heyday, so many people wanted to be admitted that there weren't enough beds. Patients would offer to bring their own mattresses from home in exchange for their loved ones to be housed there.
Eloise Hospital became a dumping ground for the unwanted people of society. The poor, homeless, the ones without any family, and the insane all came to this place of hope for the hope of a new home with food and beds. There is a darkness to Eloise Hospital too. Much like hospitals of the 1930s-1960s, the form of treating insanity called Lobotomies became increasingly popular. When patients were not wanted by their families, they would be donated to science. In the Eloise tunnels, private lobotomies would be performed. One incident after Eloise Hospital had closed down, in a room of the tunnels, bits of brains were found in vials, most likely from lobotomies and from the study of the brain.
After closing its doors in 1984, the grounds of Eloise (Wayne County General Hospital ca. 1945) have been virtually cleared, leaving only four of the original buildings intact. Over the last 10 years, Wayne County has sold almost all of Eloise's 902-acre (3.65 km2) grounds to the Ford Motor Company and their developers. Some of the property also went towards building the Inkster Valley Golf Course. All that remains on the land today is a five-story brick hospital—located at the very front of the grounds (now the Kay Beard Building) -- and several smaller structures: an old fire station, one powerhouse, a bakery and a commissary—most located behind Kay Beard and in a dilapidated state. 22 acres (89,000 m2), however, are still owned by Wayne County, Michigan and await development. Nothing remains on the south grounds (farming grounds) that Eloise used. Most of it is an overgrown field, and there are still crops growing there to this day. The Signal Seekers R/C Club of Michigan (radio control aeromodeling club) use some of the land, and the cemetery is located behind their gate.
As of September 2006, the county has determined that the smokestack on the property (built in the early 1900s), was in such dilapidated condition rendering it unsafe. It was torn down.
The building behind the present Kay Beard building is used today as a family shelter for homeless parents with children, although talk among state leaders foresees the eventual closure of this section of the property as well.
Eloise is spoken of in the book Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg, which is about Luxenberg's secret aunt who was committed to the Eloise in the 1940s.