Part I in a series
By Kris Leonhardt
In May 1909 a special committee was canvassing Wood County, searching for a suitable location for a proposed asylum.
Wisconsin Rapids, known as Grand Rapids at the time, was already reaping the benefits of all of the county’s facilities, and Marshfield area leaders were hoping that in the end a Marshfield or Pittsville location might be selected. With Marshfield’s lofty contribution to county taxes, it seemed like the most likely option.
In June the Wood County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to erect a county asylum constructed out of brick and stone at a cost of $100,000. As plans were being drawn, the location was still unclear.
The board met in a special session the following month and was presented with six potential sites from the site committee. These sites included the Grieves farm in the town of Lincoln and a location near Pittsville.
Plans developed for the facilities came back to the board in July totaling $130,000 for both the building and the grounds. The proposed facilities had been before the board for two months, but the steep price tag may have created sticker shock, and the plans were voted down 18-23.
After further discussion, the board conducted another vote, and this time it came back reversed: 23 for and 18 against. Still, no site was selected.
As summer waned, the board was still considering multiple locations. With sites identified in proximity to every notable municipality in the county, the board weighed its options in August. Once again, it noted that Grand Rapids had the majority of the county facilities and that either Marshfield or Pittsville would be a good location, maybe even halfway between the two. Still no decision.
In November the committee was studying sites on the south side of Marshfield, one near Vesper on the Soo and Northwestern railway lines, and one near Pittsville.
The committee was comprised of a nonpartisan group of George W. Brown, Pittsville; George T. Rowland, Grand Rapids; and E.M. Deming, Marshfield.
The trio visited the sites to determine the pros and cons of each location. It had been six months, and the location was not yet determined.
Next week: North Wood County gets an institution