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The Cleveland State Hospital

The Cleveland State Hospital, also known as Northern Ohio Lunatic Asylum, The Newburgh Asylum, The Cleveland Asylum for the Insane, and even referred to as "Turney Tech" on some occasions, was an institution that arose out of a growing need to send the mentally ill away to a facility to be treated and hopefully cured. The hospital was located on Turney Road (in what is now Cleveland) on land donated by the family of President James A. Garfield, and was completed in 1855.

Like most of the State Hospitals that were established at the time, the Cleveland State Hospital had an imposing facade and was designed in what is now called the "Kirkbride style." Named after Thomas Kirkbride, he was one of the minds that helped create the state hospital as an institution. The hospital had a large impressive main building with wings to the left and right branching out, sprawling across many acres. The early years of the hospital had a more close-knit atmosphere between patients and staff, which stemmed from the philosophy of state hospitals trying to emulate the parlors of upper class houses. Once it was clear that patients could not be cured quickly and would stay for many years, more structure and expansion was necessary.

In 1872 a fire struck the Cleveland State Hospital forcing them to build a more substantial building. Shortly after that, the first reports of overcrowding were brought to light. The Cleveland State Hospital was not the only institution that saw these kinds of problems though. The hospital tried to stay on par with the other hospitals around the country in terms of treatment and care. The use of electroshock was just one of the more inhumane methods employed in institutions dealing with mental illness. There was a famous article written by Albert Q. Maisel that was featured in Life Magazine called "Bedlam 1946" that made the treatment of patients at Cleveland State Hospital (as well as hospitals in Pennsylvania and to a lesser extent New York) known to a national audience.

The later years of the Cleveland State Hospital showed significant improvement in care. The state of Ohio phased out the Cleveland State Hospital, and in 1975 it became known as the Cleveland Development Center. The Cleveland Developmental Center was a short-lived care center for the mentally retarded. This followed the national trend of deinstitutionalization following World War II. The community would now take over the care of mentally ill patients and see to their well being in the way that the state hospital as an institution was unable to do. The building was eventually demolished in 1977.

Images

Cleveland State Hospital Main Administration Building, 1921 This photo from December 28, 1921 shows the front of the main administration building. The black marker on the upper part of the building is from the Cleveland Press as it was necessary for the picture to look contrasted enough to show in newsprint. Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Cleveland State Hospital Main Administration Building, 1972 This photo shows that the exterior of the Cleveland State Hospital had not changed very much in the years it was functioning. Taken on December 4, 1972, this photo gives a view of the back of the main administration building. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Ward B Living Quarters This photo from October 20, 1927 shows what was either a porch or sun room, which was transformed into part of Ward B. This is a good visual of how close beds were placed together in a ward and how the overcrowding was dealt with by the hospital administration. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Hospital Nurse Cares for Patient's Hair This photograph taken on May 18, 1940 harkens back to a time in the hospital where there was more care for the patients, and care was a lot more personal. It is important to realize that the poor treatment of patients was not something that happened continually, yet it happened nonetheless and needed to be remedied. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Strong Man Room in Ward E This photo from 1951 may or may not have been taken during Al Ostrow's investigation of the Cleveland State Hospital. The room pictured here was called a strong room located in Ward E where wooden bars on the window had been replaced by piano wire. The piano wire was often called a "psychiatric screen." Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Cleveland State Hospital Aerial View, 1951 To give a sense of how Kirkbride hospitals were built, this is an aerial view from 1951. On either side of the main building would be men's and women's wards, since it was deemed inappropriate to have mixed wards. The wards on the farthest edges of each side housed more progressively psychotic patients so that it would be harder to reach the main building, which was the main exit. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Nurse Inspecting an Electroshock Machine Pictured here, a nurse inspects an electroshock machine on October 31, 1951, which may or may not have aligned with Al Ostrow's investigation of the hospital. This is an example of the cutting edge treatment used for mental illness at the time, when the focus was placed on curing all patients of their ailments. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Ward C Patient Gazes Out Restroom Window As a part of Bus Bergen's investigation of the Cleveland State Hospital, this photo was taken on October 19, 1955. The identity of the man pictured here is not known, but he was a patient from Ward C who spent his days in that window sill looking out on the world below. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Overcrowding in Ward C This picture taken on August 3, 1962 shows that despite the hospital condition reports made by Bergen and Ostrow, the overcrowding issue did not go away quickly. The patients pictured are from Ward C, and often sat around in the hallways because they had nothing to do to keep them occupied. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Mental Hygiene Director Speaks With a Patient The Mental Hygiene Director Martin Janis (or James) pictured here, talks to a patient as he inspects the hospital on July 30, 1963. This image shows the movement towards deinstitutionalizing patients and moving them to newer and better facilities. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.

Location

Metadata

Jessica Carmosino , “The Cleveland State Hospital,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 26, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/576.