St Vincent's Institution

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St Vincent's Institution
St. Vincent State Hospital
Construction Began 1891-1893? (Kirkbride)
Opened August 1858 (Original hospital), 1895 (Kirkbride)
Closed 1978
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Kirkbride Plan
Architect(s) Geo. R. Mann
Location 1600 Castle Park Dr, Normandy, Missouri
Alternate Names
  • Insane Asylum of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul
  • St Vincent's Hospital


This institution was founded as a private hospital for care of those with mental diseases and administered by the Sisters of Charity of Vincent de Saint Paul. Originally this order ran the Mullanphy Hospital in St. Lewis and realizing the increasing number of patients afflicted with mental diseases. Due to the detrimental effect of the mentally ill on other patients a separate facility for their care was sought. A home was soon secured for their use at Ninth and Marion Streets in St. Louis, which in August of 1858 was occupied by four sisters and 15 patients. The patient population swelled as state institutions closed as a result of the Civil War but returned to more normal levels following its closing. By the 1870s this institution was regarded as "one of the most renowned in the west."

Plans to move the hospital out of the city were considered as early as 1863. In 1891 97 acres of land were purchased on St. Charles Rock rd in St. Louis County one mile beyond city limits from Charles Lucas Hunt. Under the supervision of Sister M. Magdalene, Superior plans were quickly drawn up for the new building following the Kirkbride Plan. In the fall of 1895 the building was completed and the sisters and patients moved in. This proved to be fortunate as the following May the building formerly occupied by the hospital was destroyed by the St. Louis Cyclone of 1896.

The new building proved ideal for treatment of the insane, located on a hill in beautiful countryside well away from the city. It could accommodate 500 patients, with each ward under the charge of the Sisters of Charity. The brick building was built on the modified kirkbride plan, consisting of a central administration flanked on either side by two wings. To the rear of the administration were the supporting buildings and chapel. It was four stories tall along with a basement story. The building itself was built in the Châteauesque style and to this day retains its many tall spire and turrets. When it opened it has an area of over 200,000 square feet; over 400 rooms, and could care for over 500 patients.

Since opening a gymnasium as well as an entertainment hall were erected for the benefits of the patients. An addition to the southern wing, the Laboure Clinic for the acutely ill, was opened in 1958. The hospital remarkably managed to keep pace with the times in terms of treatment while maintaining its original building and character.

The as of 1916 the hospital was treating 500-600 patients a year with an average of over 300 in treatment at one time. The hospital boasted a 25% cured rate with a 60% improved rate for all cases at this time. The 1930 census lists the patient population as 343. By 1941 the hospital was involved in the treatment of those with mental and nervous disorders as well as selected cases of alcoholism and drug addiction. The hospital remained in operation until 1978 when it was consolidated with the DePaul Community Health Center in Bridgeton, and the building was vacated.

About 132.66 acres of the grounds and the adjacent Marillac College property were sold to St. Louis County for use as a park, while the remaining 21.11 acres, in cluding the building were leased to private developers. The hospital building was renovated into housing and now is called the Castle Park Apartments.

Images of St Vincent's Institution[edit]

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