Central State Hospital Louisville

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Central State Hospital
Construction Began 1868
Construction Ended 1869
Opened 1873
Closed 1986
Demolished 1996
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Kirkbride Plan
Location Louisville,KY
Peak Patient Population 2,400
Alternate Names
  • Fourth Kentucky Lunatic Asylum
  • Central Kentucky Asylum for the Insane
  • Central State Hospital
  • River Region Hospital

Hospital "Nicknames"

  • Lakeland State Hospital
  • Anchorage Asylum
  • Central State Hospital


Central State Hospital was a 192-bed adult psychiatric hospital located in eastern Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky. In 1869, 200 acres were purchased by the Kentucky State Legislature from the descendants of renown frontiersman Issac Hite to establish a "State House of Reform for Juvenile Delinquents." This was located on the outskirts of what would become Anchorage, Kentucky. In 1873, due to overcrowding at both of Kentucky's mental hospitals, the House of Reform was converted into the Fourth Kentucky Lunatic Asylum, with Dr. C.C. Forbes as its first Superintendent. The following year an act of the legislature renamed it the Central Kentucky Lunatic Asylum. In late 1887, it received its own post office, called simply "Asylum". The following year its name was changed to "Lakeland", and the institution was commonly referred to as "Lakeland Hospital" or "Lakeland Asylum". By 1900, its official name had been changed to the Central Kentucky Asylum for the Insane. By 1912 it was known as Central State Hospital. Comparable institutions are Eastern State Hospital at Lexington in Fayette County and Western State Hospital at Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky. All three were administered by the Board of Charitable Organizations.

The secluded, rural setting was typical of such facilities in the late 19th century, as such an environment was thought to be beneficial for recovery from mental illness. However, not all patients had mental disorders - some suffered from brain damage, mental retardation or were simply poor or elderly. The early years of the 1880s were marked by repeated allegations of patient abuse.

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Throughout Central States history, the institution suffered from improper funding, understaffing, and overcrowding. Though built to accommodate 1,600 patients, by 1940 there were in excess of 2,400 patients and again various accusations of patient mistreatment began to arise. However, starting in the 1950s, changing community perception of the mentally disturbed, led to fewer patients staying permanently in mental hospitals. In 1962, $3,000,000 was allowed by the state to construct more modern facilities on LaGrange Road. Many of these are still standing.

In 1986, a new modern administration facility was completed on property adjacent to the 1960s buildings, The original hospital and surviving structures on what was called "the North Campus" were subsequently abandoned and later demolished in the late 1990s.


There are 2 cemeteries on the former hospital property that is now part of the E.P. Tom Sawyer State park. Strawberry Hill and Peace On Earth, with Strawberry Hill being the older of the two. All graves are marked and the number of patients buried there currently unknown. Ongoing research has brought the number to nearly 1,000 names.

Images of Central State Hospital[edit]

Main Image Gallery: Central State Hospital Louisville

Links & Additional Information[edit]