Abandoned Asylum in Owings Mills, MD

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In September 2015, we ventured to the abandoned Rosewood Asylum in Owings Mills, MD.  The
Rosewood Asylum was an institution established in 1888 for people with developmental disabilities.  
At that time it was known as the Asylum and Training School for the Feeble-Minded.  The state
closed its doors in 2009 after a mountain of angry complaints involving understaffing, patient
abuse, and neglect.

Like many overwhelmed psychiatric facilities built around the turn of the last century, Rosewood
had been dogged by shameful accusations for a long time.  Throughout its history, the institution
continually suffered from over-crowding and a shortage of staff, often resulting in unsatisfactory
patient conditions.  Between the 1950s and 1970s, there were numerous reports of malpractice,
neglect, and abuse.  In 1981, the U.S. Justice Department declared that residents at Rosewood
“failed to receive minimally adequate care.”

The most scandalous accusation — the one that sets Rosewood apart from other asylums—was
made by Leo Kanner on May 13, 1937. Before a hushed gathering at the annual meeting of the
American Psychiatric Association in Pittsburgh, Kanner shared the shocking tale of “the Rosewood
girls.”  For more than 20 years, some of Baltimore’s wealthiest and most established families had
been helping themselves to the institutionalized patients at Rosewood. They’d been “adopting”
these mentally challenged girls and women only to turn them into their own private slaves under
the guise of habeas corpus writs.

The main building was burned down in 2006, a victim of arson.  In March 2009, one of Rosewood’s
vacant buildings was destroyed by fire.  The State of Maryland Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene closed Rosewood on June 30, 2009.

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