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Maxine Schmidt, center, gives tours of the former Fergus Falls State Hospital along with her husband, Gene, far left. The couple hope new uses can be found for much of the complex, especially the tower section of what is known as the Kirkbride building, where this spiral staircase is located. The spot is a favorite of photographers, according to Maxine Schmidt, who said: "If I had a nickel for every time my picture was taken here ..." Dave Olson / The Forum

A future for the Kirkbride?

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The former Fergus Falls State Hospital has more than 500,000 square feet of space, and from the outside it looks every bit that big.

But inside, details grab attention: carved wooden filigree framing a fireplace; brass door hinges embossed with intricate rosettes; fantastical cast-iron creatures guarding the main stairs.

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Experts who have toured what is known as the Kirkbride building say it could stand for 400 years.

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