East Mississippi State Hospital

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East Mississippi State Hospital
East Mississippi State Hospital
Established March 8, 1882
Construction Began 1882
Construction Ended 1885
Opened January 1885
Current Status Active
Building Style (original) Single Building (current)Cottage Plan
Location Meridian, MS
Alternate Names
  • East Mississippi State Insane Asylum


On March 8, 1882, the Mississippi State Legislature approved enabling legislation to establish the East Mississippi State Insane Asylum. This came about largely due to the efforts of Miss Dorothea Dix, a champion for mentally ill in the United States. The city of Meridian purchased and donated 560 acres of land for the construction of the facility. The asylum opened its doors for service in January of 1885, with a 19 year old man from Meridian as the first patient.

In the years 1893 and 1894, three native magnolia trees and three Japanese magnolia trees were planted in front of the Administration Building. These trees make a beautiful entrance to the hospital even today.

The original structure was three stories and built on the Kirkbride plan. The administration was in the center with two wings consisting of three wards each. The capacity of this building was 250 patients. Since then, the campus had been develpoped on the Cottage plan and by 1916 in addition to the original building there were six cottages, and Tuberculosis building, and a building for treating the acute sick.

The name of the institution was changed from East Mississippi State Insane Asylum to East Mississippi Insane Hospital in 1898, and finally to East Mississippi State Hospital in the early 1930's, perhaps reflecting changes in attitudes toward the mentally ill nationwide.

During the early years the hospital was almost self sufficient with farming facilities, a hog farm, a cattle farm, a dairy barn, a poultry plant, and orchards of peach, apple, pear and pecan trees. A canning plant was built to process the produce.

In the mid 1950's the hospital realized much progress toward becoming a modern psychiatric hospital. Since its beginning the hospital had provided for only custodial purposes but during the 1950's it began to develop treatment services for the patients. With adequate and well-trained medical and psychiatric staff, the various kinds of therapies and the use of tranquilizing drugs were instituted. The hospital began to be recognized as a successful treatment center of psychiatric illness. It was also during this period that much improvement was made in the physical structures. The Administration Building was remodeled to modern standards and a new occupational therapy building, recreation building, and a new employee dormitory were constructed.

During the 1960's the admission rate for adolescent patients increased and the hospital began providing active treatment to younger residents of the state. It was also during this period that one of the buildings was converted into a skilled level nursing facility in order to provide nursing home services for those patients who no longer required psychiatric care but were in need of more medical and nursing services. This decade saw an increase in the number of admissions to state hospitals, but a decrease in the number of long-term patients as community based programs developed statewide.

An Alcohol Rehabilitation Center was established and a 96-bed intermediate nursing facility was licensed during the 1970's. To further in-service education by providing opportunities for employee training and advancement, the hospital established a series of courses to better prepare the psychiatric direct care workers for their duties. A deinstitutionalization program was reinstated with special emphasis on discharge planning and treatment programs. A halfway house was established in the community to provide former patients the opportunities to develop and exercise independent living skills.

During the 1980's the treatment team model was implemented and a unit to prepare long-term residents for discharge was developed. EMSH saw the development of the unit based treatment model which provided patients with an active treatment intervention to facilitate return to the community and to reduce the number of patients in extended treatment services. The Case Management System, Respite Program to divert admissions, and the Friendship Center were developed to provide psychosocial community based day treatment. Programming was expanded in existing community programs and efforts were made to promote community awareness and support. Group homes were established and supervised apartments became available to provide alternative living arrangements for former patients.

The 1990's brought an expansion of the parameters of patient care. Additional full-time staff was secured to offer a broader spectrum of services to the patients. Affiliations with medical hospitals and consultant physicians were added to the range of medical services available. All these changes improved the staff-patient ratio.

Education of staff was emphasized. Continuing in-service education was mandated for medical and other professionals and an academic linkage agreement was established with state colleges and universities to provide supervised clinical experiences for students.

In 1993, one of the hospital buildings was renovated to meet nursing home requirements and opened as Reginald P. White Nursing Facility 303. The EMSH adolescent school was officially named Magnolia Grove School and organized as a separate department with the appointment of a chief administrative officer. An internal school board was appointed to serve as governing body. In July of 1995, Magnolia Grove School completed all requirements to be certified as a Special School with full accreditation from the State Department of Education.

Opening of new facilities have marked the beginning of the twenty-first century. Two new group homes were opened in DeKalb?, MS in August 2001. These homes provide residence for ten men and ten women in a homelike setting.

The Bradley A. Sanders Adolescent Complex was dedicated April 18, 2002. Named after a longtime Department of Mental Health employee, the 50-bed complex was built on 63 acres of land near the hospital's main campus to replace the existing adolescent unit located in one of the hospital's older buildings.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 20, 2003, for construction of a new R.P. White Nursing Facility. It will be a state-of-the-art facility consisting of two 120-bed single story buildings which are being built on a beautiful eighteen-acre tract of EMSH property located in northwest Lauderdale County off Old Eighth Street Road. The new facility opened on 16 March 2006.

The city of Meridian, which seemed distant from the hospital a century ago, has surrounded the hospital; and today East Mississippi State Hospital is part of a growing area of schools, recreational areas, and special support services for the community. Except for services to the severely physically ill, EMSH provides inpatient services for adults and adolescents requiring psychiatric or substance abuse treatment as well as nursing home services. In addition, the hospital operates a continuum of community based services such as training center, halfway house, group homes, supervised apartments and a psychosocial center.

The future of East Mississippi State Hospital seems bright for the staff but brighter still for the citizens of Mississippi who are in need of the unique services the hospital offers.[1]


The cemetery is located at the far end of 22nd Street about two blocks from the hospital campus. There is no parking except directly in front of the locked gate, in the street. As of 2017 it is kept neatly. The more recent markers are at the far end of the cemetery on the right hand side, below a gravel drive. The oldest appear to be on the left hand side and over the rise of the hill. Not all markers are in place - having been disturbed and strewn about. The oldest markers lie flush with the ground and each bears only the decedent's hospital number. About half of the markers are newer granite blocks that rise about four inches from the ground and bear name and dates. There are a handful of markers that appear to have been erected by families. The cemetery listing on Find a Grave is incomplete.


Main Image Gallery: East Mississippi State Hospital


  1. From hospital's own web page.