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Northern Indiana Hospital for the Mentally Insane

THERE HAS BEEN a very popular myth floating around Logansport for generations. it involves the origins of the Northern Indiana Hospital for the Insane — better known to Logansport residents as Longcliff — and Purdue University.

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During the 1870s and 1880s, there was a movement in Indiana to care for the emotionally disturbed. The state decided to build five hospitals for this purpose. The central hospital would be located in Indianapolis with branch hospitals in four sections of the state. Logansport was selected as one of these. Construction began in 1884 and was completed in 1888.

Sometime early in the twentieth century, the residents of Logansport began to circulate a story. This story soon took on a life its own, being told with great flair by fathers to their sons. It was the story of how Logansport had the choice between Purdue University and Longcliff. The ground, which with the hospital looks very much like a campus, was supposedly set aside for a university. As the story was told, Mr. Purdue favored Logansport over West Lafayette, but the people of Logansport turned their backs on the university in favor of the hospital.

Obviously we will never know what went through John Purdue’s head. Perhaps he did contemplate Logansport at one time. Who knows? We do know that nothing was written about it, not even once. That seems a little odd. If a man was seriously thinking of establishing a university at a location, you would think he would have written something about it.

Aside from that is the one critical piece of evidence: Purdue University was founded in 1868, twenty years before the hospital. There was no choice to be had. The plans for the hospital were several years away when the question of Purdue was at stake.


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