Fairhill Psychiatric Hospital

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Fairhill Psychiatric Hospital
Opened 1956
Closed 1983
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Single Building
Location Cleveland, OH
Alternate Names
  • Fairhill Mental Health Center
  • Fairhill Center for Aging (Current)


The Fairhill Campus has served the Greater Cleveland community for over 78 years. In 1837 the Medical Board of Marine Hospitals designated Cleveland as the site of a hospital to benefit sick seamen, boatmen, and other navigators. By 1916, with a capacity of just 85 beds, the hospital’s original location was deemed too small, and Congress took steps toward relocating the hospital to Fairhill.

On June 28, 1930, with a staff of 15 doctors, 42 nurses and 72 attendants, the US Marine Hospital was opened. By 1953, that number decreased significantly, and Congress voted to close the hospital. The Marine Hospital closed on June 30, 1953. The hospital was reopened as the Fairhill Psychiatric Hospital in 1956. In 1973, the main building was remodeled and a new two-story addition was added to the front of the original structure.[1]

The Fairhill Mental Health Center was a state psychiatric facility in Cleveland dedicated to intensive, short-term care. It opened as one of 5 state psychiatric facilities in Cleveland in the former U.S. Marine Hospital on Fairhill Road. Although Fairhill originally had a capacity of 200 beds, by 1960 only 70 were in use because of staffing problems. With the enactment of the Community Mental Health Centers Act by Congress in 1963, the name changed to the Fairhill Mental Health Center. Its overall purpose was slightly revised, "to provide comprehensive psychiatric services to all residents of a given geographical area, regardless of socioeconomic status," but it's emphasis remained on short-term care. (Its service area consisted primarily of Cleveland's east side and eastern suburbs.) Fairhill attempted to minimize many of the negative aspects of state mental hospitals, with a cheerful and bright interior and innovative therapeutic programs which encouraged patient involvement. In 1966 Fairhill became one of 3 "open hospitals" (no locked doors) in the country.

From the mid-1960s, Fairhill suffered from budgetary restrictions and changing state directives. One result was overcrowding: in 1966 admissions were limited to only 50%, because of delays in transferring patients to long-term hospitals. In 1975 a budget crisis resulted in the transfer of 38 employees to institutions for the mentally retarded; two years later, the hospital's out-patient clinic closed. Despite a $3 million renovation in 1980, overcrowded conditions persisted; the hospital was criticized for early discharges. By 1983, not meeting federal standards, it was in danger of being decertified for Medicare and Medicaid. As the Cleveland Psychiatric Institute was in a similar situation, the Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene & Correction consolidated the two and closed the Fairhill Mental Health Center. In 1987 the process of developing the Fairhill collaborative campus began. In 1989, the property became the home of the Fairhill Center for Aging, a joint venture of the Benjamin Rose Institute and University Hospital Case Medical Center. In 1995, the site was named a Cleveland Historic Landmark, receiving more than 1,200 visitors a month as of 2002.[2]