Cleveland State Hospital (Historic Asylums)

Cleveland State Hospital

aka Northern Ohio Lunatic Asylum, Newburgh State Hospital, Cleveland Developmental Center

Cleveland, Ohio

Established 1850's. Destroyed

Northern Ohio 
Lunatic AsylumOriginally known as the Northern Ohio Lunatic Asylum, this was the second of 6 public asylums established in Ohio in the 1850's. In later years it was commonly known as Newburgh State Hospital because it was located in Newburgh Township as recompense for Cleveland having been awarded the location of Cuyahoga County Seat. The main building, containing 100 beds,was completed in 1855 on land in Newburgh donated by the Garfield family.The purpose of the asylum was to provide the mentally ill a quiet place outside the city with a moral environment where healthy living could belearned. Previously, many of the insane had been kept in jails or almhouses. Dr. Horace Ackley was the first chairman of the board of trustees and superintendent. A professor of surgery in the Medical Dept. of Western Reserve College,Ackley was an important figure in the building of the hospital and its early development. He was "a pioneer surgeon of Northern Ohio" and the first local physician to use ether as an anesthetic in general surgery. He used it in 1847, just 3 months after its first public demonstration inBoston, to perform the first ether-assisted operation in the Western Reserve.

In its early years, the hospital had a homelike atmosphere.It was an "open" facility where most patients were free to use the grounds. Treatment was largely based on providing a healthful environment,although more disturbed patients were managed with seclusion, cuffs, straps,straight-jackets, and cribs. After a fire in 1872, a more substantial structure,pictured here, was built, with a capacity for 640 patients. The building occupied almost equal portions of four of the Original Newburgh 100-acrelots as surveyed in 1797. The concentric planter in front of the main entrance was erected nearly perfectly at the intersection of lots #464, 465, 472,and 473. As early as 1874, there were reports of overcrowding, to be a recurring problem for the next century. By 1900 the hospital began to treat mainly poorer patients as the wealthier relied on increasing numbers of private hospitals. Conditions continued declining in the 1920's and 1930's. Investigations in 1946 revealed a history of brutality and neglect, and squalid conditions in many wards. Although overcrowding persisted, conditions improved with the development of social services, psychology, group work, occupational therapy, volunteer services, and out-patient clinics. Budget cutbacks in 1961 eliminated many programs. patient population dropped and the state began to phase out the Cleveland State Hospital in 1972. In 1975 it became the Cleveland Devlopmental Center, a care facility for the mentally retarded. The old main building was demolished in 1977 and today the entire site has been cleared for the construction of the Mill Creek Development, a housing development of single family and cluster homes.

- from Slavic Village History by permission.

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