In 1885 Michigan's first private mental institution was located here under the guidance of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. In 1855 the Sisters at St. Mary's Hospital
in Detroit had begun the care of the mentally ill, formerly confined to prison and poorhouses. In 1860 they opened a separate facility, The Michigan State Retreat, which was incorporated in 1883 as St. Joseph's Retreat. The original brick building situated on these 140 acres of farmland and lawns overlooking the River Rouge was enlarged and encircled by outer structures to accommodate 400 patients. At first these included Civil War veterans; later alcoholics, drug addicts, and other curables were rehabilitated. In 1962 the Retreat was closed since it no longer met the pressing needs; the impressive structure was subsequently razed.