Eastern State Hospital - Williamsburg, VA
Posted by: NorStar
N 37° 16.130 W 076° 42.289
18S E 348841 N 4126057
Quick Description: The Eastern State Hospital was the oldest public asylum for the insane in America, and the present building on the original foundations is an exact copy of the first building and has an exhibit about the asylum and an entrance to a museum.
Location: Virginia, United States
Date Posted: 1/14/2010 8:24:34 PM
Waymark Code: WM82BX
In Williamsburg, on the edge of the area known as Colonial Williamsburg, near the intersection of Francis and S. Henry Streets, stands a brick building with a cupola. This building is an exact replica of the first building for the Eastern State Hospital. This building is part of the Colonial Williamsburg Resort and requires an admission ticket to get inside.
The American Guide Series book on Virginia has the following paragraph about the hospital:
81A. EASTERN STATE HOSPITAL (adm. by arrangement), S. side Francis St., occupying a group of stone and brick buildings on 800-acre grounds, is the oldest public asylum for the insane in America. Originally called the Lunatic Hospital and known as 'Mad House' or 'Bedlam,' it was chartered in 1768 and opened in 1773. James Galt, whose family managed the asylum through four generations, was the first superintendent. This hospital, the first to relinquish the idea that a lunatic asylum is a place of horror, is the first of its kind to care for Negro insane. Free Negroes were taken in from the beginning, and slaves after 1846, but Negroes have had separate quarters since 1850. The original buildings burned long ago. The institution (1939) cares for more than 1,600 patients.
--American Guide Series: Virginia - A Guide to the Old Dominion, p. 328
The active Eastern State Hospital today still operates but has been relocated about 2 miles away in a more spacious modern campus.
The present structure did not exist at the time that the book was written. This building was built on the foundation and to the exact dimensions to the original building of the Eastern State Hospital built in 1773. That building burned down on June 7, 1885. In 1985, the present building was built. After entering, there are two options. The entrance to the DeWitt Walace Decorative Arts Museum is to the right. The exhibit to the Eastern State Hospital is to the left. In the exhibit, there are two rooms of different years that showed how the interned had lived, and another room that provides both a history of the location as well as artifacts related to the hospital.
Xroads.virginia.edu (American Guide Series: Virginia):
Virginia.gov (Eastern State Hospital):
Wikipedia (Eastern State Hospital):