Montevue Asylum

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Montevue Asylum
Construction Began 1870
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Alternate Names
  • Montevue Home



[edit] History

In 1870, the Montevue Asylum was built to care for the mentally ill and homeless and included a hospital. A Tramp House was located behind it where as many as 600 people per month were housed, many transients. That building in 1934 was renovated to create the Emergency Hospital, and 20 years later it became the Frederick County Chronic Hospital accommodating 22 patients. In 1959, the facility was renamed Montevue Home to house the aged and indigent. In 1884 the state health department lauded the asylum as a model institution which brought credit upon the county. Early Lunacy Commission annual reports also praised the conditions at Montevue as being exemplary. Yet by the mid-1890s, even a Frederick County grand jury suggested that the conditions could be improved for some of its patients. Reflecting the segregationist thought that often pervaded Progressive thinking it noted: "The enlargement of an adjoining building for the confinement and care of the Colored portion of inmates would in our opinion be of great advantage to the institution." Montevue accepted, along with payment from other counties, insane African Americans from throughout Maryland. Chronic overcrowding of black patients at this institution had been noted within the commission's annual report since 1895. It appears that a string of county commissioners viewed Montevue as the means to build up county coffers. Only the Frederick County commissioners steadfastly refused to endorse the concept of state care.


The Montevue photographs contained in the 23rd Annual Report of the Maryland Lunacy Commission built the strongest case for abolishing the system of county care. Commission members had made five visits to Montevue in the space of several months, the most of any such institution, carefully seeking out the most incriminating images. A series of photographs produced in January of 1909, taken with flash equipment, came as a result of a surprise night time inspection by Dr. Arthur Herring, Commission Secretary.[1]


The name Montevue is continued with a Frederick County owned assisted living facility, the current building constructed in 1987.[2]


[edit] Images of Montevue Asylum

Main Image Gallery: Montevue Asylum



[edit] References

  1. http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/speccol/sc5400/sc5492/html/almshouse.html
  2. http://www.frederickcountymd.gov/index.aspx?NID=1690




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