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Revision as of 12:26, 8 November 2009

Mendocino State Hospital
Mendocino State Hospital
Construction Began 1883
Current Status Closed
Building Style Kirkbride Plan
Peak Patient Population 3,000 est. in 1957

Mendocino State Hospital, originally the Mendocino State Asylum for the Insane, was established in 1889 (Statutes 1889, Ch. 23). By that law the Governor was authorized to appoint a board of directors of five members for a term of four years to select the site and to manage the institution.

In 1893, the name of the hospital was changed to the Mendocino Asylum (Statutes 1893, Ch. 64). With the Insanity Law of 1897, the hospital took on the name of Mendocino State Hospital. The Insanity Law created the State Commission on Lunacy which was given authority to see that all laws relating to care and treatment of patients were carried out and to make recommendations to the Legislature concerning the management of hospitals for the insane. The 1897 law provided that each hospital should be controlled by a board of managers of five members appointed by the Governor for four year terms.

In 1921, the state hospitals were placed under the authority of the newly-created Dept. of Institutions. The board of managers continued, but only with advisory power.

The Dept. of Mental Hygiene was created by an act of the Legislature in 1945 (Statutes 1945, Ch. 665). It was given authority over all state mental institutions. Boards of managers were replaced by boards of trustees with no change in function. Advisory boards were established in 1969 to take over the responsibilities of the trustees.

Mendocino State Hospital, located in Talmage near the city of Ukiah, formally opened its doors in July 1893. Dr. Edward Warren King was appointed first superintendent. The first patients, all male, were transferred from state mental institutions in Stockton and Napa. Female patients were accepted beginning in 1894.

Following the stock market crash in the late 1920s, patient population increased rapidly. By 1932, the hospital had over 1900 patients and 300 employees. By 1935, the figure had risen to over 2600 patients. Hospital population hit a high in 1955 at over 3,000 patients and 700 employees. Increasing discharges and transfer of the criminally insane to the Atascadero facility eased overcrowding. By 1966, population was back under 1800 patients.

Building construction occurred in spurts over the years. The original main building, completed in 1893, was razed in 1952. With the exception of two wards built in 1910 and 1918, the first major construction project took place between 1925-1933. Little construction was accomplished in the 1940s. Between 1950-55, many new major structures were completed to replace old buildings and to provide facilities for new programs.

Major programs over the years have included treatment for the criminally insane (1929-54), alcoholic and drug abuse rehabilitation, a psychiatric residency program, industrial therapy, and others. As part of a major reorganization by the Reagan administration, the hospital was closed in 1972.