Kuhn Memorial State Hospital
|Kuhn Memorial State Hospital|
|Building Style||Single Building|
Kuhn State Hospital started life as Vicksburg’s City Hospital back in 1832, in response to a smallpox outbreak. It took its place at this location, then a suburban estate with “a substantial house” in 1847. Run by Dr. George K. Birchett, and later his son, grandson, and great-grandson, the hospital served wounded during the Civil War and suffered the deaths of 16 doctors and 6 Catholic Sisters of Mercy during the Yellow Fever of 1878. The state took over the operation of the hospital in 1871, and the institution was re-named the State Charity Hospital at Vicksburg.
Confederate veterans stalked the halls of a specially built annex, constructed in 1901 (burned in a “mysterious fire” in 1918). And to top it off, the University of Mississippi operated its first medical school here in the academic year 1910-11.
In 1954, a former resident of Vicksburg, Lee Kuhn, having long since moved to New York City, died and left his estate of $400,000 to the Vicksburg Charity Hospital. In his will, Kuhn directed that a 7-person committee composed of three Jews, two Catholics, and two Protestants be formed to decide the best way to disburse the money. The committee decided that a new building would be the best use, and in 1959, the institution opened a large new facility to the rear of the original buildings. The institution was also renamed in honor of Mr. Kuhn. Changes in medicine and mission brought about yet another large building in 1962, this one replacing the antebellum “substantial house” and its 1909 annex with the brick building that greets a visitor today. Probably both the 1959 and the 1962 buildings were designed by Raymond Birchett, Vicksburg architect and great-grandson of the original Dr. Birchett.
The Kuhn closed in 1989, a victim of state politics and funding issues.
Since its closure, the facility fell victim to vandals and thrill-seekers which resulted in the rapid decay of the hospital.
In 2015, paranormal investigators discovered the body of a victim who had been murdered. This incident brought more negative publicity to the facility and helped speed up calls to demolish the property. Demolition on the historic hospital began in February of 2019, and the site is now a vacant lot.