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Featured Article Of The Week

Stockton State Hospital


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Constructed as the Insane Asylum of California at Stockton in 1853, the complex was situated on 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land donated by Captain Weber. The legislature at the time felt that existing hospitals were incapable of caring for the large numbers of people who suffered from mental and emotional conditions as a result of the Gold Rush, and authorized the creation of the first public mental health hospital in California. The hospital is one of the oldest in the west, and was notable for its progressive forms of treatment. The hospital is #1016 on the Office of Historic Preservation's California Historical Landmark list, and today is home to California State University Stanislaus.

In 1865 the first section of new facilities for the female patients was completed. The entire structure was not completed, however, until 1874. Total cost was $249,500. It was constructed on the east side of North American Street, between East Vine and East Magnolia streets. The Smith Canal, which currently ends well short of the state hospital, extended from the Stockton Delta Channel all the way to the state hospital and was used to Ferry supplies in the early days. That part of the canal has now been filled in and it terminates in a small Lake in Legion Park.

This three and four-story structure had a capacity of 325 patients. As overcrowding became a problem. chairs and beds were placed in the narrow hallways. Patients were often strapped into these chairs and they sat in semi-darkness. The entire building contained only two chimneys. On each floor marble fireplaces served the visiting rooms, the employee sickroom, and the wards located in both wings of the building. Click here for more...