On a recent tour of the Kalamazoo State Hospital Water Tower, a new mystery at the hospital was sparked when we spotted these stone-carved faces and found that no one could identify who they were.

The faces appear over the northeast and southwest-oriented doors of the quad-structured Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital, the largest facility of its kind in Michigan.

Who do the faces represent - Governors of Michigan? None appear to match any in history. And likely if any governor would be honored it would be the one who came from Kalamazoo, Epaphroditus Ransom. In fact, it was Ransom during his tenure in Lansing that caused the state hospital to be built in Kalamazoo. According to the Kalamazoo Public Library,

Ransom also strongly supported the establishment of asylums for the insane and the deaf. His support on this issue would eventually lead to the building of the Michigan Asylum for the Insane in Kalamazoo

How about fathers of Psychiatry? The Kalamazoo State Hospital was built under the Kirkbride Plan, named after mental health pioneer Thomas Kirkbride. But none of the faces look much like Kirkbride or Freud or Jung or any other names associated with mental health.

Maybe it's Mayors of Kalamazoo. Who knows? There are small photos of the city's mayors on the KPL website, but not enough evidence here to support that's who the faces are.

While the faces remain a mystery, it's intriguing to take a look at the little seen and less likely known side of Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo State Hospital Architectural Features

In addition to the mysterious stone faces, there are several other carvings on the buildings facades including mythical creatures like Spinx and griffins as well as scientific and medial imagery like caduceus and microscope.

These aren't the only interesting building carvings in Kalamazoo. The historic Gazette building downtown has gargoyle like faces carved on their facade.

The Mysterious Faces of the Kalamazoo Asylum


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