Gracewood State Hospital

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Gracewood State Hospital
Established 1918
Opened 1921
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Gracewood, GA
Alternate Names
  • Georgia Training School for Mental Defectives
  • Gracewood State School and Hospital
  • Gracewood Center
  • East Central Regional Hospital, Gracewood Campus


In 1918, the Georgia Legislature authorized Governor Hugh M. Dorsey to appoint a committee to investigate, report, and make recommendations to relieve the state of the uncared for “feebleminded.” One year later, an Act was established to open training schools for “mental defectives;” an old orphanage with 325 acres in a small community called Gracewood was then purchase by the state.

The superintendent’s report dated January 25, 1922 describes the formation of the Training School for Mental Deficiencies in 1919 with a $100,000 appropriation to erect a suitable institution and the purchase of the necessary land. One year later in 1920, te State of Georgia purchased the Tuttle-Newton Orphanage property for $75,000 with 325 acres of land. There were 8 existing buildings constructed of reinforced concrete and several frame structures. The buildings were described as 3 dormitories, a cottage for employees, an administration building, a school building, a dairy barn, and a cold storage building.

The City of Augusta appropriated $25,000 for the school to operate for the first year. The school was officially opened on July 5, 1921 and by the end of the year had 52 residents. In 1951, Dr. Norman Pursley became the 8th Superintendent of the school, and in 1952 the State of Georgia purchased additional land to begin an institutional farming operation. In the 1950s, the campus included a school building, an infirmary, a hospital, and 8 dormitories. In 1961, the name of the school was changed to Gracewood State School and Hospital. Improvements during the 1960s included an auditorium, gymnasium, Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a chapel. In the 1966 census, Gracewood State School and Hospital had 1,902 clients. The Gracewood State School and Hospital Archives was opened in 1996 in collaboration with the 75th Anniversary of the opening of the facility in 1921.

ECRH currently employs approximately 1,400 staff and is owned and governed by DBHDD. It is accredited by The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations under standards for Hospital, Behavioral Health, Laboratory, and Long Term Care.