Lincoln State Hospital

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Lincoln State Hospital
Lincoln State Hospital
Established 1865
Opened 1870
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Lincoln, NE
Alternate Names
  • Nebraska Hospital for the Insane
  • Nebraska State Hospital
  • Lincoln Regional Center (Current)


This institution is located at Lincoln. As early as 1865, it was found necessary to make provision for the insane in the Territory of Nebraska. Four cases were already being cared for in an Iowa hospital. The legislature authorized the governor to make some arrangement with the State of Iowa, by which they received and cared for the insane at the expense of Nebraska. Under this arrangement fifty patients were sent at various times to the hospital at Mount Pleasant. Soon after Nebraska became a State the governor, secretary of State and auditor of public accounts were appointed a board of commissioners to locate a site for a State lunatic asylum near the city of Lincoln. The first building was completed at a cost of $137,000 in the fall of 1870, and the first patient was admitted November 26th of that year. Early in the following December, seventeen patients were brought over from Mount Pleasant to the new institution, and four were admitted who had been confined in the Pawnee county jail. Dr. N. B. Larsh was the first superintendent.

In April, 1871, the institution was destroyed by fire. Five patients were reported missing and were never afterwards accounted for. The remaining patients were taken to Lincoln and cared for in rented houses until a temporary building was erected on the asylum grounds. As there was no appropriation available, and the citizens of Lincoln were fearful lest the institution should be removed to some rival city, they advanced the funds necessary to build a temporary frame structure, which did service as a hospital until a new stone building was erected the following year. Since that time the institution has been enlarged by the erection of additional buildings, until today it is one of the most modern institutions of its kind in the country. As the population of the State increased, the number of insane persons likewise increased, thereby making it necessary to increase the capacity of the hospital. The congestion was also relieved by the erection of other institutions at Hastings and Norfolk. The first patients were sent to the Norfolk hospital February 15, 1888, and to the Asylum for the Chronic Insane at Hastings, August 1, 1889.

Originally the State guaranteed the expense of caring for insane patients, and when possible, collected the amount so expended from the estate of the patient, or from his or her natural guardians. Later the superintendent certified to the auditor the number of patients from each county, and the auditor of public accounts certified to the commissioners of the several counties the amounts due for the maintenance of their insane. In 1883 this was changed and the State assumed the entire expense of caring for this class of persons. A new building was completed in 1872.

The name of this facility was changed to the Lincoln State Hospital in 1921 and to the Lincoln Regional Center in 1969. From an initial total of less than 50, the number of patients has varied as methods of diagnosis and treatment of mental illness have changed. In 1955 the patient census was 1750. By the 1980s, with modern medicines and an emphasis on outpatient care, the hospital had fewer than 250 residents.


Main Image Gallery: Lincoln State Hospital