Hensley Asylum for Infirm Ladies and Needful Girls

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Hensley Asylum for Infirm Ladies and Needful Girls is a location in the Melisende Dulac Series.


Sign for the Dn. Hensley Asylum for Infirm Ladies and Needful Girls, Established 1921

Founded in 1921 by the lumber and mining baron Dalton Hensley, the asylum's original mission was the care of young, unwed mothers and elderly women no one else would help. After Hensley's death, the institution was overseen by the Hensley Foundation, which also did philanthropic work throughout Oregon. In time, the Foundation decided split the asylum into two facilities, the Hensley School for pregnant teens) and Crestview Assisted Living for elderly residents. The original asylum was closed in 1942 and left to fall into ruin for many decades.

The asylum consisted of a U-shaped, three-story stone building with two wings, enclosed by a high basalt wall. A water tower and maintenance building which included a steam heat plant are located behind the main building.

Outside the wall at the edge of the forest is a small cemetery where indigent women and girls who died at the asylum were buried. In addition, both Alice Hensley and Grace Hensley are buried here. Their untimely deaths inspired Dalton Hensley to found the institution.

In 2018, the Hensley Foundation sold the asylum grounds to High Country Ventures, a development company with plans for a vacation home village at the site[1]. A condition of the sale required the graves to be relocated to the Bluebunch Glen Memory Garden outside Samuelton.

During its years of operation, the Hensley Asylum saw many deaths due to the effects of age and illness among the so-called "infirm ladies" or complications of childbirth among the "needful girls." Because most of the residents of the asylum were indigent and had no one to claim their remains, they were buried in a small cemetery adjacent to the asylum grounds. 318 women and girls were interred between 1921 and 1942, though only 216 were identified by name during the cemetery relocation. The remains of 94 unnamed infants—newborns or stillborns—were also identified at the site.

Alice Hensley, wife of Dalton, and his daughter, Grace are also buried in the cemetery.[2]



  1. Memory Garden, Chapter 1
  2. Crossroad, Chapter 27