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Featured Article Of The Week

Madison State Hospital


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On Feb. 21, 1905, the Indiana legislature passed a bill to construct a mental institution in southeastern Indiana. A commission named for the purpose chose Madison as the site of the institution. It was built mostly on land purchased from Henry and Ford Hitz at $100 per acre, atop the hills overlooking the Ohio River. The first patients were accepted at the new Southeastern Indiana Hospital for the Insane on Aug. 23, 1910. The approximately 600 patients were transported here from Central State Hospital in Indianapolis by train. Guards who stood watch over them carried shotguns loaded with rock salt.

There were 30 two-story buildings with 20 to 70 beds each to house the patients, with the buildings being placed in a symmetrical pattern with administration and service buildings in between. Men’s buildings were on one side of the grounds, women’s buildings on the other. Heretofore, mental patients had been “warehoused” in huge buildings. But the new, enlightened view of “moral treatment” current in the early 20th century was that disturbed minds could be restored to sanity in a beautiful, peaceful and accepting environment such as the new state hospital offered, with its breathtaking view of the Ohio River Valley. The breaking up of the patients’ housing into smaller buildings, known as the cottage plan, also was aimed at more humane treatment of the mentally ill and at trying to restore them to sanity. Click here for more...