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Norwich State Hospital Series: The Unique History of a Large Campus

The Norwich State Hospital opened in 1904 and as time went on, new buildings replaced old ones and new medical advances led to the gradual decrease and shut down of the mental health facility.

Experts in the psychological field would never have predicted we would medicate people rather than have them in controlled environments. Information from this blog comes from the Abandoned Asylum Website, which has since been shut down. Information from this blog though has been published on Yahoo VoicesAsylum Projects, and Opacity

The Norwich State Hospital opened in 1904 with ninety-five patients in one building. 

One of the hospital's first superintendents believed mental health care could best be provided through mechanical restraint and hydrotherapy.

Two patient buildings were built in 1905 with a third opening in 1907.

Thirteen patient buildings opened during the next eight years. 

An administration building, three physician cottages, a carpenter and maintenance shop, a main kitchen, garage, laboratory, staff house, and an employees' club house had been built and the inebriate farm and the colony were added to the campus in 1913. 

Between 1920 and 1930, seven new buildings were built and another building was purchased for patients' use. 

In 1930 there were 2,422 patients. 

In addition to new patient facilities, two more cottages were erected for physicians, a female employees' home, a paint shop, a greenhouse, a superintendent's residence, and two garages were built.

Tubercular patients were housed between 1931 and 1939 in Seymour which led to the closure of the Pines buildings. 

Two more cottages for physicians, male employees' home, and a nurse's home were also built. 

Each time a new patient building was constructed, an old building was closed and abandoned. All the buildings were never occupied at the same time. 

In 1956, the Lodge building was completed which housed patients that were living in Butler, Cutter, and Dix.

A powerhouse, laundry facility, pump house, fifteen physician cottages, an incinerator, the Occupational Therapy Building, employees' building, a chapel, a research and clinical laboratory building, and the Kettle Building were built in 1959. 

In 1966, Dr. Martin was appointed superintendent and his mission was to create diversified programs for patients by increasing patient freedom and creating a democratic administration to meet needs of patients and staff. The hospital slowly decreased in population by 1973 with only 1,148 patients. 

The population decreases occurred as a result of increasing discharges, shorter periods of hospitalization, the development of special programs for alcohol and drug dependent and geriatric patients as well as increasing emphasis on crisis intervention. Administration operations moved to the Kettle Building.

The hospital closed in 1996 while the Southeastern Connecticut Mental Health Authority occupying space in the Kettle and Lodge Buildings remained until their offices were moved to the Uncas on Thames Hospital.

The Norwich State Hospital buildings have became victims of age, neglect, flooding due to bursting of pipes which thawed and froze each year, vandals, thieves, and explorers. 

The next part of the series will explore proposals for these buildings and will explore the television shows that have featured the Norwich State Hospital.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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