Monday, September 14, 2009

East Mississippi State Hospital

Date built: 1885
Building Plan: Cottage Plan
Current Status: Active

On March 8, 1882, the Mississippi State Legislature approved enabling legislation to establish the East Mississippi State Insane Asylum. This came about largely due to the efforts of Miss Dorothea Dix, a champion for mentally ill in the United States. The city of Meridian purchased and donated 560 acres of land for the construction of the facility. The asylum opened its doors for service in January of 1885, with a 19 year old man from Meridian as the first patient.

The name of the institution was changed from East Mississippi State Insane Asylum to East Mississippi Insane Hospital in 1898, and finally to East Mississippi State Hospital in the early 1930's, perhaps reflecting changes in attitudes toward the mentally ill nationwide.

During the early years the hospital was almost self sufficient with farming facilities, a hog farm, a cattle farm, a dairy barn, a poultry plant, and orchards of peach, apple, pear and pecan trees. A canning plant was built to process the produce.

In the mid 1950's the hospital realized much progress toward becoming a modern psychiatric hospital. Since its beginning the hospital had provided for only custodial purposes but during the 1950's it began to develop treatment services for the patients. With adequate and well-trained medical and psychiatric staff, the various kinds of therapies and the use of tranquilizing drugs were instituted. The hospital began to be recognized as a successful treatment center of psychiatric illness. It was also during this period that much improvement was made in the physical structures. The Administration Building was remodeled to modern standards and a new occupational therapy building, recreation building, and a new employee dormitory were constructed.

EMSH conducted the practice of Eugenics until 1963.

EMSH Float in the Calf Scramble Parade in the 50s. (click on)

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