Central Louisiana State Hospital
|Central Louisiana State Hospital|
|Building Style||Cottage Plan|
|Peak Patient Population||3,128 in 1959|
In 1902, the Louisiana Legislature authorized an establishment to house and treat the mentally ill of our state (Act 92). The facility operated under several names since its opening on 6 January 1906, but is currently known as Central Louisiana State Hospital (1992).
One provision of the original legislation required the hospital board to furnish the legislature at each session a detailed report of the annual receipts and expenditures, a statistical breakdown of new and current enrollment, and a list of those deceased during the previous period. The first superintendent, Dr. George A.B. Hays, immediately set up a morgue and selected a site for a hospital cemetery in order to comply with these requirements.
Given the social conditions of the times, the stigma of mental illness, plus the difficulty of contacting relatives and arranging transportation of the bodies, it was not surprising that many of the deceased patients were buried on the hospital grounds in the cemetery. Until such time as the hospital could obtain the services of a Chaplin, the superintendent or some of the staff physicians handled the burial services, using the simple and beautiful service of the Methodist Church.
These early funeral services were handled entirely by the hospital, with the body being transported to the gravesite in a wheelbarrow until 1933 when a hand-drawn hearse was constructed. This hearse was used until 1950, and was pushed by pallbearers to the gravesite. Deceased female patients were draped in pink or blue shrouds made by the workers in the sewing room, and the carpenter shop probably furnished coffins (although this is not reflected in their individual reports).
Hospital records indicate there are approximately 3,000 people buried in this cemetery, and it was last used in June 1985
A large wooden cross, constructed in the hospital's carpenter shop, was placed on the hill in the early 1960's. A large white solid concrete cross has since replaced it. Hospital workers poured a large concrete slab near the street for the placing of grave markers by relatives of the deceased. (In October 1992, only two names were on the slab, but fresh flowers had been placed there recently.)