Norman State Hospital

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Norman State Hospital
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Alternate Names State Hospital for the Insane

Oklahoma State Hospital

Central State Hospital

The worst fire in Norman history, measured by the lives lost, killed 38 men and boys in the Oklahoma State Hospital for mental patients on April 13, 1918. That may have been the largest fire death toll in Oklahoma history. The State Hospital on East Main Street was a forerunner of l the Griffin Memorial Hospital. The fire broke out at4 a.m. on a Saturday, destroying two large buildings, described by The Norman Transcript as "old frame" structures, and a new building used as the dining hall. All 38 victims were in a first-floor ward housing 48 boys 10 to 15 years old, the newspaper reported. Apparently some victims were attendants. All 36 patients in a second-floor ward were rescued, led down an outside stairway "by most strenuous efforts."

Eighty patients in the other destroyed ward building were evacuated safely. Firefighters were able to put out the flames in a third ward building, and patients who had been moved out were able to return. Others were covered with blankets on the grounds until they could be placed in other buildings. The Transcript reporter had high praise for both members of the Norman Fire Department and the hospital's fire department. “There were numerous instances of bravery in going into burning buildings," the story said, "but none of them take any special credit to themselves". There was speculation that either an electrical defect or spontaneous combustion started the fire. A coroner's jury said the cause was unknown. Property damage was estimated at $25,00).

All but one of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and were buried Monday in one big grave in the northeastern part of the IOOF Cemetery. "Everybody was laid in a neat coffin and given every kindly consideration possible," The Transcript said. Although the story: put the deaths at 37, The World Almanac calls it 38. Probably an injured patient died later.