The Agnews Insane Asylum and the Nearby Mass Grave of Former Patients

The former Agnews State Hospital, which served as an insane asylum for a period if time, is an truly infamous part of Agnew local history.

The original buildings for the hospital were built in 1888, but were destroyed by the 1906 earthquake. The buildings that you can see there today, within Agnew Historical Park, were all built from state taxpayer funds in 1908.

Several of the rebuilt structures, the mansion, the clock tower and the auditorium, are quite ascetic.

Nextdoor to the auditorium is a history center with extensive information on the former hospital.

In 2000 Sun Microsystems utilized the various former hospital buildings for its corporate campus. In 2010, the company Oracle took over the part of the land were it still operates as a corporate campus.

The Agnew Hospital mass grave has 606 former patients buried in it. None of the bodies were in coffins, since the designated plot of land was too small to fit 606 coffins. Rather the bodies had been placed in dug up ditches. Decades later new homes were built around the mass gave and the grave markers on it were removed by the request of residents who viewed a piece of local history as “unsightly”.

In present day the Agnews Historical Museum is nextdoor to the site of the mass grave, which is gated off from public access. It is a very unfortunate reflection of modern society, when the need to maintain the beauty outside of ones home trumps over the need to reignite and honor the dead through grave markers, regardless of their mental state while they were alive. This is exactly why historical preservation societies are so important due to their role in preserving historical buildings and the past lives that were part of those structures.

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