Spring Grove State Hospital

As one of the oldest psychiatric hospitals established in the United States, Spring Grove has a long history. The hospital was originally founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1794 by a group of citizens led by one Captain Jeremiah Yellott. Known simply as The Retreat, it was a private hospital for ailing sailors. Three years later, Captain Yellot and his associates requested assistance from the Maryland state government for expanding the hospital. The state consented and the hospital continued to grow, eventually becoming a completely state-operated institution in 1834, and dedicated exclusively to treating mental illness in 1839.

By the mid-nineteenth century, the hospital had grown considerably and overcrowding had become a problem. An address by Dorothea Dix to the Maryland legislature in 1852 criticized the hospital as inadequate. A plan to move the hospital to a more spacious, rural setting in nearby Catonsville was put into action. Construction of a Kirkbride building designed by architect J. Crawford Neilson was begun there in 1853. The pace of construction was slow and suffered many setbacks, not least of which was an almost complete cessation of building during the Civil War. Although one wing was used as a medical hospital during the war, the Kirkbride was not completed and did not begin housing psychiatric patients until 1872.

Spring Grove State Hospital is still in existance and is now known as Spring Grove Hospital Center. However, the Kirkbride building was demolished in 1963. By then the structure was old and run down and the state decided to tear it down and build more modern facilities.

Other names for this hospital:

  • The Baltimore Hospital
  • The Maryland Hospital
  • Maryland Hospital for the Insane
  • Spring Grove Hospital Center


Forum Topics

Spring Grove State Hospital
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Blog Posts

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