Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks invites you to a special tour of the Olmsted-designed grounds of the historic Northern State Hospital located in Sedro-Woolley, WA.

Date and Time: Saturday August 20, 10 a.m. Please bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the site after the tour.
Location:  Hub/Theater Building, 24909 Hub Drive, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284. Meet at the Hub/Theater Conference Center Building #14 on Hub Drive.

Our tour leaders are Spencer Howard, partner with Artifacts Consulting, along with Marygrace Jennings, Cultural Resource Manager, Nick Cockrell, Asset Manager and Judy Torfin, Administrative Assistant, all with the Washington State Department of General Administration. According to the Cultural Landscape Foundation, “Undertaken by the State of Washington in 1909, Northern State Hospital was constructed as a state of the art, self-sustaining occupational therapy and treatment facility for the mentally ill. Masterfully designed by the Olmsted Brothers, the site included patient and staff housing, a dedicated reservoir, lumber mill, quarry, steam plant, and more than 700 acres of farming and livestock operations. The hospital ended operations in 1973 and, today, the Washington State Department of General Administration and Skagit County are stewards of the site, and has converted the agricultural area into the Northern State Recreation Area. A renewed interest in the site has local officials and community members pushing for a sensitive adaptive reuse.”

The 700 acre farm and forest land was transferred solely to Skagit County in 1992, and the 225-acre main hospital campus continues to be managed by the Washington State Department of General Administration with most of the buildings still in use. The Department of General Administration has declared the Hospital Campus property as surplus, and is in the process of evaluating options to transfer ownership. While the campus and some of the adjacent farmland have recently been listed as a Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places, this designation confers no protections on the property. Earlier this year, the property was identified by Washington Trust for Historic Preservation as one of 2011 Most Endangered Historic Properties in Washington, having been nominated by FSOP. This is an opportunity to visit a unique Olmsted landscape with expert tour guides. Please join us!

Directions to the Northern State Hospital:
24909 Hub Drive
Sedro Woolley, WA 98284
Head north on I-5 N
Take Exit 232, Cook Road exit, just past Chuckanut Drive
Head east on Cook Rd until you reach the intersection of Hwy 20 and Cook Rd.
Take a left on Hwy 20 and proceed east on Hwy 20 about ½ mile past the AM/PM
Turn left onto Fruitdale Road at the light.
North Cascades Gateway Center will be your first turn on the right. Upon entering campus bear left on Northern State Rd.
Turn right onto Hub Drive. The Hub/Theater Conference Center is on the left half way down Hub Drive.
The parking lot is just beyond the Hub Building, on the left.

This entry was posted in DAHP Information, Events, General Historic Preservation Information, Tours. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jamie says:

    do you still do tours of the northern state hospital

    • wadahp says:

      Hi Jamie – I think that tour was a one-time thing, but check back on the blog from time to time to see if there are any more tours scheduled!

    • Sabryna and Kimry says:

      We are doing a project on the Northern State Hospital for a history project and we would love to interview someone that was part of the organization back then. If, anyone knows of anyone that would like to share their story with us please contact us.
      Kimry Roberts and Sabryna Holt

  2. Dennis Brockschmidt says:

    I am a registered nurse at Western State Hospital, and a retired Navy photographer. I am interested in photographing the buildings at Northern State Hospital. I have been getting referred from one person to another for several years now. How can I get permission to spend a day there to photograph the hospital? Please help if you can.

  3. Jon kester says:

    My youth group about 10 people from his place church in burlington wa.
    would love a tour if you can give us one we are making a movie and need a few shots in a building and some of the tunnels and we have full coverage certificate of insurance too.
    if so please email.

  4. Nicole Raine says:

    I’m with Dennis! I’ve been wanting to photograph there as well and having similar issues. I know there have been issues with “ghost hunter” documentaries causing upset. However, would it be possible to organise something for very respectful, non-sensational documentary and fine art purposes?

  5. wadahp says:

    shannon peden says:
    January 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm (Edit)

    I’m very interested in touring Northern state Hospital, is there anyway someone could notify me when the next tour will be…Thank you!

  6. David X Harris says:

    I too am interested in touring NSH please email me please

  7. Carli Mccammond says:

    I was wondering how to contact the place to do some photography shoots there. I attend EVCC and a bunch of us students would like to do a project there. please help me out.

  8. lauren says:

    would really love to shoot inside northern state. please notify me when there will be another tour.

  9. Gina Moore-Daniels says:

    I would like to be notified if there is another tour. I am very interested in touring this historical site.

  10. Judy Torfin says:

    There are no longer any tours of Northern State Hospital Campus. We are however having the 100 year anniversary of the opening of the Campus. It will be taking place September 13th through the 15th. The campus will have organized activities going on. The farm side of the campus is owned by Skagit County now and is open with walking trails and access to photographers. The hospital campus is still a closed campus. The only access for photographs will be during the anniversary. The contact for the campus is Judy Torfin (me) and my number is (360) 856-3162. We no longer allow access to buildings for filming or photographs due to the liability issues and sensitive programs on our campus. We would love to see everyone at the anniversary though. I am also collecting photographs, letters, information anything from the past. I can scan anything you have that you would like to share with me. There is a small museum on site that I am putting together.

    • Melisa says:

      Hi Judy!

      I am very interested in attending the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Campus. It’s September 13th-15th, correct? What time should I show up? Do I need to preregister? Will I be able to walk around the grounds and take pictures?



      • Judy Torfin says:

        Jessica, in your questions about filming at the farm. The Skagit County now owns the farm and it’s property. To do filming or photo shoots there you would have to contact them. But an FYI is there is a movie being filmed there right now. It just started today and I am unsure how long they will be filming. You might not have access on the 16th but you could ask. You can call me or e-mail with questions. or 360-856-3162

    • Jessica Soss says:

      As for the farm side, do we need to talk to you guys first before we do a photo shoot there? We have a few props to bring in like a metal table that one of our models will be laying on. Nothing will be moved around or disturbed. We wanted to do a promotional Halloween photo shoot for a film we are doing later this year. We are looking to do the photo shoot the 16th of Sept.
      Please call or email me at your earliest convenience.
      all the best ,
      Jessica Soss

      • wadahp says:

        Hi Jessica – DAHP (the agency that runs this blog) does not have any ownership of the Northern State Hospital grounds. I’d suggest calling Judy Torfin at (360) 856-3162. From her comment above: “We no longer allow access to buildings for filming or photographs due to the liability issues and sensitive programs on our campus”. I would definitely suggest calling her before heading out to any part of the campus!

        • Judy Torfin says:

          The Northern State Hospital Campus is closed to the public. Yet, we will be having the 100 year anniversary of the campus. The events are as follows:
          Sept. 13: $20 dinner/tour/auction benefiting the Job Corp Scholarship fund. 4:30pm to 7:30 pm
          Sept 14: Free luncheon for all ex-employees and patients of Northern State Hospital and their families. RSVP to me. It will be from 12 noon to 2 pm.
          Sept 15: FREE TO EVERYONE..10 am to 2 pm. Free tours, displays, book signings, videos, and much more. Bring your cameras and come learn all about the Hospital. Nice way to spend a day with your family at a great price. FREE

          I have been working on getting ready for this for 2 months searching through the closed buildings and finding many treasures to share you with. Please come. We also have ADA Parking and Restrooms. Bring everyone.
          P.S. This is the only day of the year it will be open to the public.

    • Judy Torfin says:

      Melisa I posted below about the hours for the Anniversary. I look forward to seeing you there. I think you will be pleased. The only thing you can preregister for is the dinner/tour/auction on the 13th. But the 15th is just come on in. You will be able to walk the grounds with the tours and yes you can take pictures. We have a tour route that people go to because we still have at risk programs here but you will see the great architecture and landscaping. Also you will be able to go inside the Hub (Chapel) it has spectacular architecture. You are welcome to come the 13th and the 15th. See you there.

  11. Jenni says:

    I am thrilled to read this information. I just recently found out about this beautiful area and have done a few photo sessions on location. Stunning bit of history. I initially saw the post about the event on the 13th, and was sad that I could not make it to that event because of work. When I saw the event information for the 15th, I could hardly believe my luck! I have to be in the area anyways – but I cannot wait to see more of the area! I will bring my camera and my kids with their cameras!! Where do we park however? I have only ever parked in the gravel parking lot near the Dairy Buildings. Thank you for any extra info.

    • wadahp says:

      Hi Jenni – here are the directions and they do include some info about a parking lot:

      Directions to the Northern State Hospital:
      24909 Hub Drive
      Sedro Woolley, WA 98284
      Head north on I-5 N
      Take Exit 232, Cook Road exit, just past Chuckanut Drive
      Head east on Cook Rd until you reach the intersection of Hwy 20 and Cook Rd.
      Take a left on Hwy 20 and proceed east on Hwy 20 about ½ mile past the AM/PM
      Turn left onto Fruitdale Road at the light.
      North Cascades Gateway Center will be your first turn on the right. Upon entering campus bear left on Northern State Rd.
      Turn right onto Hub Drive. The Hub/Theater Conference Center is on the left half way down Hub Drive.
      The parking lot is just beyond the Hub Building, on the left.

      I’m not sure if this is where the parking will be for the event – but hopefully, there will be some signs or personnel to direct you once you are at the Hospital!

  12. Kara says:

    The tour was wonderful. Hopefully it will happen again.

  13. Kristyn says:

    Want to visit a haunted institute for my anniversary, how can i do this?

  14. Alexandra Little says:

    Can you please keep me informed when you will have Northern State Hospital open again to the public? We missed the opening in September… Hoping you will have another one soon.


  15. elaine oostra says:

    Went here many time to visit my mother . She had mental Illness. It does not bring back good memories. But I do remember the banana tree we would sit by when our dad visited out mom. Is there any picture of this tree ? In the 70’s us 4 kids were fearful when this hospital shut down. Its very difficult to live with a person who suffers from mental illness. We knew when mom went to the hospital she would come back some what well. That was taken away from us as kids. After this time of the closer we were told in order for her to be hospitalized she need to hurt herself or one of us kids. My brother also has this illness . He could commit himself for 3 days then be let out. This went on for 40 years. Finally becasue he tried to burn down my dads van and hit my dad , he is in hopefully pertinent state care. As family we had no power to do anything for mom or our brother. As hard as i is to reminisce about this hospital I am very thankful for it making my mother well many time. Its so sad to see mentally ill people roam the streets , live in the woods, under the bridges as my brother did for many years.

  16. Gloria Chiodo says:

    I am interested in a tour and ghost hunt. Please email me when this site is open to the public. Thank you

  17. James says:

    Yes I think tours should start again at least once a week. I think they could make lots of money towards upkeep.

  18. Sarah Wahl says:

    I would love to be able to do a tour through Northern State, not in the interest of “ghost hunting”, but just to be able to experience the history itself!! Please let me know, if possible, if any more tours are expected in the near future. There is no greater learning tool, then to experience and see the history firsthand

  19. Erin Perez says:

    My sister and I have been here twice but would love to do a tour. Please let me know if they do a tour this year.

  20. Limda Cary says:

    I, too, am interested in a tour. Please e-mail me if /when there’s a tour. I am fascinated by what I have read about the hospital during its days of operation.

  21. Wedy says:

    I don’t understand why the State doesn’t make some serious money with this place. The hospital already has national acclaim and has drawn attention for some time now. I have walked the grounds of Western State Hospital, it is an open campus and is a fully operational mental institution and people are not treated as unfriendly as your ground person treats people. I personally know that Western is steeped in history and haunted as crazy and I’m sure Northern is no exception. Your grounds keeper was quite abrasive last night when we just drove up just to get a quick look from our car. Oh, and he’s a lair. He knows darn well what TAPS found there! Not so good for PR, just my opinion. The administration is going at this thing all wrong. My sense is, the state could make a serious killing on the place, it would bring revenue into the surrounding town and it would solve many of the curiosity issues if it where made ready for tours and used much as Old Town in San Diego. Millions of dollars pour into the State coiffures every year from people visiting Old Town San Diego. This is the problem with this State; Northern State is a natural resource for commerce and yet it is wasted on Job Crop which could easily be moved and likely brings in a fifth of the sites earning potential. The hype about this place is already alive and well. Someone with some real vision and smarts needs to be placed in charge of the property, as it is a gold mine and could be ready with just a bit of overhead, a few sponsors and some creativity. Lack of vision is what is killing this state right now. Rather than discouraging people from visiting the place, Northern State’s reputation and historical value should be fully exploited and the property should be readied for public use. I am sure the Job Corp could be placed in a location with less public interest. Seriously, go online and take a look at what San Diego has done with the Whaley House, Old Town and the Missions. This same thing could be done with Northern with just a little ingenuity and some building on humans natural curiosity with the paranormal. Just a suggestion…

  22. Julissa Helms says:

    I am interested in touring Northern State Hospital/Cascade Job Corp. Please let the public know if there will be any more events.

    Thank you!

  23. Steve Borkowski says:

    I know the facility is closed is there walk around the perimeter of the facility.?

  24. holly says:

    They have a tour comming up in September 2013 call Judy for details her number is listed in prior posts.

  25. K. Freeman says:

    My great-grandmother resided at the hospital through most of the 1920’s, now nearing almost one hundred years ago. Does any information, photos, etc. exist from this era? I live out of state but return to the Seattle area once a year or so. Is any access to the old hospital or any record/photo collection?

    K. Freeman

  26. Stephanie says:

    Do you do private tours? My daughters want
    To experience this place we have been talking about
    It for years !! Thanks so much for your time….

  27. Cassi says:

    Is it true that there will be another event this September which will allow the public to do a tour? We frequent the park side of it very often and have always wanted to see what’s on the other side! Reading all of this information online makes it so much more intriguing to see it in person! Thanks!

    • wadahp says:

      Hi Cassi – we have not been notified of any tours planned for September, but will let you know if we hear of anything!

  28. holy says:

    As I stated before the tour is happening September 14, 2013. I just spoke to Judy today to ask about times and parking. I would recommend going this year because they only open it to the public every now and then. Judy’s number is posted in the comments so call her if you want the correct info.

  29. melissa says:

    Are there any tours for August? Also, do you do private tours? My daughter and I have been talking about going here for a couple months now! It would be helpful to get a reply back! Thanks!

    • wadahp says:

      Hi Melissa – another commenter mentioned that there is a tour scheduled for September 14. Please contact Judy Torfin at (360) 856-3162 for more information.

  30. Keith Capellaro says:

    Who can I contact to do a paranormal investigation at Northern State Hospital? I talked to one of the authors who wrote about Northern State Hospital whose father was a Superintendent at the hospital.
    Keith N.W.P.R.G.

    • wadahp says:

      Hi Keith – The Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation has no authority over the hospital. Judy Torfin is the contact for any inquiries at the campus, her number is (360) 856-3162. I understand that a tour is scheduled for September 14th, but I have not been given any additional information about it!

  31. jeni says:

    I was wondering if I.could get some more info.about the tour that is coming,time,price,registration etc…thank you !!

    • wadahp says:

      Hi Jeni – the tour is free and I believe that the rest of the info is in the story itself. I believe that it is more of an open-house rather than a formal tour, so there is no set time.

  32. Bonnie Sanchez says:

    My Aunt was a patient there in 1935 Jessie A. Ward (Brock) is there any photos or records I can get from some archives? Family illness needs to be found for current issues for family history. Please let me know what I need to do. Thank you.

  33. Amber Anderson says:

    Please let me know when another tour happens. How did the 2012 anniversary go? Thank you.

  34. Ulrich Fritzsche M.D. says:

    I understand there was a newspaper at Northern State Hospital. Where are they kept now? Can they be accessed for historical research?
    Ulrich Fritzsche, M. D. Seattle

  35. kay rusher says:

    I was seeing if I can investigate the northern mental hospital. I wood like it to be my first investigates.

  36. Mike Moody says:

    Is there going to be a open house or tour this year?

  37. marcia says:

    Will you have a tour this fall of 2014? Would like to know date or be on list when you do habe a tour.
    Thank You

  38. tricia says:

    I would love to inquire in a tour this year. Would love to have one there.

    My group will pay. I can even help out in any way needed.

    Thank you for your time.


  39. I would love to tour this place. I really enjoy the old buildings.
    Please let me know if there are any tours coming up/
    Thank you

  40. joan casella says:

    Will there be a another tour coming up soon. thanks

    • wadahp says:

      Thanks so much to all of you for your interest in another tour at Northern State Hospital. Our Department does not put on these tours, rather, you should contact the North Cascades Gateway Center. Questions can be directed to Judy Torfin at (360) 856-3162 or via email at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *