St Elizabeths Hospital |+|
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In November of 1852 a tract of land overlooking the Anacostia River was purchased for $25,000 from Thomas Blagden. Construction began almost immediately on the center building, a red brick fortress designed in Gothic revival style by Thomas U. Walter, who also designed the dome of the Capital Building. The hospital was built following the Kirkbride Plan, most of the construction of the center building was done by slaves. It opened in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane. The Hospital's early mission, as defined by its founder, the leading mental health reformer Dorothea Dix, was to provide the "most humane care and enlightened curative treatment of the insane of the Army, Navy, and District of Columbia." During the Civil War, wounded soldiers treated here were reluctant to admit that they were in an insane asylum, and said they were at St. Elizabeth's, the colonial name of the land where the Hospital is located. Congress officially changed the Hospital's name to St. Elizabeth's in 1916. By the 1940s, the Hospital complex covering an area of over 300 acres. At its peak, 4,000 people worked and 7,000 patients lived there. It was the first and only federal mental facility with a national scope. The first appropriation towards building the Government Hospital for the Insane was of $100,000, and was made by Congress in 1852 for the purchase of land. The organic act creating the institution and outlining the duties of its officers and providing for the admission of various classes of insane patients was not approved until March 3, 1855. The hospital , however, had been opened for the reception of patients on January 15,1855. |+|
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|−|The creation of the hospital was due very largely to the activity of Dorothea L. Dix. She drew up with her own pen the outlines of the organic act establishing the institution, and virtually named its first superintendent , Dr. C. H. Nicholas. During the latter part of her life Miss Dix spent much of her time at the hospital, where quarters were always reserved for her, and the little desk upon which she drew up the original act creating the hospital stands in the board room in the main building. [[ St Elizabeths Hospital|Click here for more...]] |+|
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Boston State Hospital
The Boston State Hospital – originally called the Boston Lunatic Asylum – was founded in South Boston in 1839. By the 1880s, new ideas about the care of the mentally ill emphasized the importance of fresh air, hard work, and separation from the adverse influences (both social and environmental) of city life, an approach that was referred to as “moral treatment.” Thus, when the time came to move out of the old and overcrowded facilities in South Boston, the Asylum’s leaders looked to West Roxbury – at that time a semi-rural area that had only recently been incorporated into the city of Boston – as an appropriate setting for a new hospital.
Beginning in 1884, some Asylum residents were moved to the former almshouse at Austin Farm, just across Morton Street from the present Boston Nature Center, where the Harvard Commons development stands today. In 1892, looking for more room for both buildings and farmland, the City purchased the 35-acre Pierce Farm, along Walk Hill and Canterbury Streets – part of which land is now the western end of the BNC. A few years later, the City bought another parcel of land, adjoining Pierce Farm and Canterbury Street, which now includes much of the Clark Cooper Community Gardens and other areas in the central part of the BNC.
It was soon decided that Austin Farm would house women, while Pierce Farm became the “Department for Men” of the recently renamed Boston Insane Hospital. The new buildings at Pierce Farm, designed by city architect Edmund March Wheelwright, opened in 1895, and a few additional farm buildings were added over the following years. Click here for more...