Prior to operating as the Eloise Insane Asylum, the building served as the Wayne County Poor House, established in 1832. By 1834, it was in poor condition, and a new poorhouse was built in the Nankin Township.
On April 11th, 1839, thirty-five people were transferred from the old poorhouse to the new one, with one-hundred-eleven refusing to go into what they referred to as “the awful wilderness.”
On the same property was the Black Horse Tavern, which served as a stagecoach stop between Detroit and Chicago, a two-day trip. The tavern later became the keeper’s quarters. Between 1838 and 1839, a frame building was constructed to house the patients of the asylum. A kitchen was built along the back of the quarters in order to feed both families of the keeper and of the patients.