Historical information

Taken 1905 by photograph W.D Gibbons the photograph depicts a pathway leading to the administration building of the Beechworth Mental Asylum. There are three well-dressed young men lounging on the grass as another is jumping behind them. This is significant as it demonstrates that the asylum was not a prison and that the mentally ill patients were allowed their freedom.

The Beechworth 'Lunatic' Asylum was constructed between 1864 and 1867 to the designs by the Public Works Department (PWD) and was later renamed the Mayday Hills Mental Asylum. The decommissioned asylum was one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in Victoria and consisted of sixty-seven buildings, one thousand two hundred patients and five hundred staff members. At the asylum, active work was considered imperative and workshops were located near the male accommodations and laundries and drying yards near the female accommodation.

The administration building itself highlights the architectural and aesthetic significance of the asylum to the State of Victoria.


This photograph is historically significant as it demonstrates the architectural and aesthetic significance of the asylum but also the changing approaches to treating mental health.

Physical description

Black and white rectangular photograph printed on matte photographic paper mounted on grey cork

Inscriptions & markings

W.D Gibbon/ Beechworth