Save the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center/Kirkbride

The Midwest Paranormal Files group is dedicated to each and every investigation location we have the pleasure of being involved with. One building that is near and dear to us is the old state hospital in Fergus Falls, MN. It is also known as The Regional Treatment Center (RTC) and the Kirkbride. We had the opportunity to investigate this location, and it is among our favorites. We have followed its struggle to remain standing for years. We have attended city council meetings and seen and heard firsthand stories of those whose lives were forever affected by this facility.

The Kirkbride is a very large ornate building that has been under threat of demolition for years now. It is an amazing building with unlimited re-use potential. It is under ownership of the city of Fergus Falls.

City Council Staff Report – Kirkbride Building Rezoning  Dec 10 2018

City staff has been approached by a developer who is interested in developing a senior living multi-family project within the existing east and west wings of the Kirkbride Building. The current zoning of R-A (Agricultural Residence District) does not allow for the use of multifamily residential. The City, as the owner of the property, has prepared a plat which would subdivide the wings of the building from the main “tower” and detached buildings, including the Memorial Building, of the complex. The developer is intending to utilize Minnesota Housing funds as a portion of funding for the project. Having the property properly subdivided and zoned would allow the developer to submit a stronger application for funding.

City staff is proposing rezoning the Kirkbride Building, the detached buildings, and the adjacent road right-of-way to B-3 (General Business District). This zoning is the same zoning as the neighboring Campus View Apartments which were rezoned from R-A to B-3 in 2014. As with the Campus View Apartments, any ground floor multi-family would require the approval of a Conditional Use Permit, which would allow the Planning Commission and City Council to review and approve any multi-family development that includes a ground floor component. Even if the proposed development does not happen, the proposed zoning of B-3 would allow for a large mix of potential uses including retail and office uses, restaurants and service uses, as well as multi-family residential (see attached Section 7.22, B-3, General Business District). The B-3 zoning district is the same zoning district as the downtown and allows for a multitude of uses.

After this staff report the City used $3.5 million from the State grant given to them at the time of purchase in 2007 to fund a Phase II deconstruction project at the RTC. The grant was originally to be used to refurbish or destroy the buildings. Phase II consisted of removal of the buildings and underground tunnels behind the main tower and “horseshoe” complex, including the incinerator, gymnasium, kitchen, and a variety of maintenance buildings. As shown in the video above. Only the Memorial Building and one maintenance shed will remain of the buildings behind the main horseshoe structure. The selective demolition by the City reduced the overall size of the RTC complex by approximately 200,000 square feet. It is the goal that a more manageable sized campus will help encourage historic property redevelopment efforts.

We can’t allow Minnesota to lose this amazing building.

Contact the city council

To see what your fighting for also visit

Thank you for helping us fight to keep this amazing place!

The following is from Project Kirkbride – public page via Preservationworks Facebook pages

Edited to add the text from Wayne Hurley: From councilman Wayne Hurley of Fergus Falls:
While it’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to reach an agreement with Historic Kirkbride LLC, I want everyone to know that the council is committed to preservation and redevelopment of the Kirkbride.

The majority of the council (including myself) does not support full demo – including any portions that would jeopardize the historic tax credits that are available to developers. The 2nd motion that Council member Hicks made last night specifically stated that.

Full demo is an unlikely option anyway, due to the burden it would be on local taxpayers… those of you that have been following things know that the State of New Jersey spent $34 million to demo Graystone, a Kirkbride very similar to ours. We have $4 million left in state funds.

The best use of that money is to stabilize the building, do some critical repairs, and begin to search for other redevelopment opportunities.

I can’t speak to why past councils turned away previous developers, but we now on record via the motion last night that we are moving forward with preservation, not demolition.

If you live in Fergus Falls, I’d encourage you to email your council representative to express your support for preservation and redevelopment. You can find our email addresses here:

We have members of MPF who have worked side by side with this group and we are committed to doing everything we can to help save this amazing place.

Brian H. and Kristy S. were also part of Project Kirkbride, which was an effort to create an online photo gallery of the building. Done over the course of one day, thousands of photographs were taken of all five plus levels of the main facility and the tower building. You can now virtually see the inside of the Kirkbride through browsing slideshows on this website. Select what sections on the index page.

We urge you to help preserve this amazing piece of Minnesota’s history and get involved. We will try to keep you informed with the fate of this historic site with any current updates!