Lakin State Hospital

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Lakin State Hospital
Established 1919
Construction Ended 1926
Opened 1926
Closed late 1970s
Demolished Partially
Current Status Closed
Building Style Rambling Plan
Location Lakin, WV
Peak Patient Population 502 (1960 pop.)
Alternate Names
  • Lakin Hospital (1970)
  • Lakin Hospital Nursing Home


The Lakin State Hospital was created under the same legislation proposed by T.G. Nutter, Harry Capehart and T.J. Coleman, three African American legislators that created several state-funded reform institutions for African Americans between 1919 and 1921, that also created the Lakin Industrial Home for Colored Boys across WV 62 from the hospital. Like the industrial school that also bore the name of the town of Lakin, the state hospital was for African Americans only during segregation.

In 1950, Lakin was visited along with the Huntington State Hospital and Spencer State Hospital by Dr. William Freeman, sometimes called the "Father of the American Lobotomy". During July and early August Dr. Freeman performed 228 lobotomies on patients at those facilities, including twenty 'very dangerous Negroes' at Lakin.[1]

In 1954, Lakin State Hospital began the process of integrating it's staff and patient population. It also assumed the duty of district hospital for Jackson, Mason, Putnam, and Wood counties in West Virginia. In 1960 the facilities consisted of two three story main buildings (separated by gender), a two story office building, cannery, a new office/dietary complex constructed in 1959, two staff dormitories, physician housing, and a short term treatment medical center. Along with those buildings, there were six older buildings that had been renovated structures serving as laundry, workshops, and recreation hall. By 1960 psychosurgical procedures were no longer practiced, replaced by group and recreational therapy and psychotherapy.[2] However, the hospital did still offer electro-convulsive therapy and insulin coma therapy.[3]

It's use as a mental hospital persisted into the late 1970s, until the State of West Virginia de-institutionalized mental healthcare. [4] Today the former Lakin State Hospital property is still owned by the Department of Health the Lakin Nursing Home, while many of the older buildings constructed by the state have now been demolished, including all traces of the former Industrial Home.

Confusion with the Industrial Home for Colored Boys

In modern times, the state hospital is frequently confused with the Lakin Industrial Home for Colored Boys. Proximity and similar names mean casual observers often mistook the abandoned Industrial Home building for being the state hospital. Matters are not helped since after the School's closing in 1955 the State Hospital took over the grounds in 1957, using the structures as employee housing, post office, and gymnasium.[5]

See Also

Lakin Industrial Home for Colored Boys


  1. Brief history of Lakin
  2. Meyers, J. Howard, ed. "West Virginia Bluebook" 44th ed. Charleston: Jarrett Printing Company, 1960. Print.
  3. Meyers, J. Howard, ed. "West Virginia Bluebook" 45th ed. Charleston: Jarrett Printing Company, 1961. Print.
  4. WV Encyclopedia Entry
  5. Meyers, J. Howard, ed. "West Virginia Bluebook" 45th ed. Charleston: Jarrett Printing Company, 1961. Print.