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The St. Peter State Hospital
began in March 1866 when the Minnesota State Legislature responded to the need for an asylum by passing "an act for the establishment and location of a hospital for the insane in the state of Minnesota, and to provide for the regulation of the same." The act also created a board of trustees and appointed six commissioners responsible for recommending a permanent location for the state's hospital. A number of Minnesota communities vied for the facility and each claimed to be the most attractive village. However, on 1 July 1866, the commissioners made their recommendation. They opted for St. Peter as the permanent site. Citizens of that community purchased a 210 acre farm for $7,000 which was given to the state for the purpose. Shortly after the commission's report was filed, the board of trustees purchased the Ewing house in St. Peter for temporary use until construction was completed on the permanent hospital. The board of trustees estimated that the refurbished Ewing house with accommodations for fifty patients would exceed the state's demands for years.