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Featured Article Of The Week

Oregon State Hospital


Oregon State MAIN.jpg

As early as 1862 Governor Addison Gibbs recommended to the Oregon Legislature the establishment in Salem of an asylum to provide for the care and medical treatment of "insane and idiotic persons". Prior to the passage of any act dealing with the insane, each county had dealt with such unfortunate citizens on an individual basis. A document in the Oregon Archives offers an instance of this bid procedure: dated August 6, 1845, William P. Dougherty of Oregon City awarded a contract for "Boarding, clothing, and keeping" Eli Smith, "a lunatic," to Andrew Hembrie for $1.00 per day. Hembrie was under $600 bond to fulfill the contract. Similar contracts could be found in each of the counties, usually under "Pauper Accounts."

By 1862, Dr. J. C. Hawthorne had opened his Portland Institute for the Insane. Marion County, along with most of the counties then in existence, contracted with Dr. Hawthorne to care for their citizens "of unsound mind." At county expense, these unfortunates were shipped to Portland.

Funds were allocated in the Fall of 1880 for the Oregon State Insane Asylum; the site selected was north of the state prison on a slight rise just east of Salem, its present location. Ground breaking took place in May 1881 with much of the labor force and brick building material coming from the penitentiary. Click here for more...