Camarillo State Mental Hospital

  • In 1932, California government purchased 1,760 acres of land in Lewis Ranch in order to build the Camarillo State Mental Hospital (1936 – 1997). Camarillo treated patients with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses; criminally ill patients were sent to Atascadero State Hospital. The pioneering facility worked on treatment of "incurable" conditions, such as drugs and therapies for schizophrenia. It was among the first hospitals to work with autism as well.

    In January 1996, California governor Pete Wilson announced plans to close the hospital in July 1997. Members of the community, family members of the patients and employees, and the employees of Camarillo made efforts to keep the hospital open. Several advocates suggested admitting mentally ill criminals into the hospital, but the idea was rejected out of safety concerns. Governor Wilson continued to close the hospital in June 1997, a month earlier than planned. Patients were relocated to other hospitals. In 1998, there were plans to turn Camarillo into a university. It opened as California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI) in 2002.

    It is believed to be haunted by those who died at the hospital.

    In Pop Culture

    A number of movies, TV shows, and music videos have been produced here due to its close location to Los Angeles. Songs referring to the hospital include "Relaxin' at Camarillo" by Charlie Parker, "Camarillo" by Fear, "Ready for Camarillo" by Ambrosia, and "Camarillo Brillo" by Frank Zappa. 'N Sync's set for "I Drive Myself Crazy" was filmed at the hospital.

    1948 film The Snake Pit was filmed here. The movie starred Olivia de Havilland.

    The opening scene from Bottle Rocket was filmed at the hospital.

    After it closed, ghost hunters visited the hospital often, saying it was haunted.

    In a few episodes of the Dragnet series, there were references to criminals being sentenced to Camarillo State Hospital.

    Scenes from The Ring and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were filmed at and around the hospital.

    Season 4 of The Biggest Loser was filmed in 2007 when the site was CSUCI.

    Jonathan Kellerman's 2012 thriller Victims modeled its Ventura State Hospital after Camarillo State Hospital.

  • Country
  • Address
    1 University Drive, Camarillo, California, 93012, USA
  • Phone Number
    (805) 437-8400
  • Website
  • Built
  • Operation Time
    1936 to 1997
  • Kirkbride Plan
  • Status
    Open as the California State University, Channel Islands

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Museum Hours

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Museum Location

2270 S Real Camino Lake California

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