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1849: A Commodious House

1855: Early Obstacles

1865-1875: A Period of Rebuilding

1880-1925: The Hospital Expands

1925-1940: Continued Growth

1900: A Self-Sufficient Community

1956: From the Ashes

1937: Biggs Center for the Criminally Insane

1984: End of the Farm

1855: Early Obstacles

Although new, three flaws in the Fulton asylum building quickly emerged. First, interior construction provided no means to segregate the "furiously insane" from calmer patients. Second, the building was too small to meet Missouri's demand. Superintendent Smith turned away seventy admissions in 1854 because of overcrowding. Third, until 1859, the poorly designed and constantly malfunctioning boiler system forced patients and staff to congregate in "stove rooms" on cold days. In addition to physical obstacles to success, Smith lamented the absence of standard medical terminology for the diagnosis of insanity, thus one doctor's notes often meant nothing to another. Finally, Smith warned that the likelihood of a cure fell dramatically when patients entered with an illness already of long duration.

". . .in order to [insure] the proper classification of patients, and the preservation of good order quietness and peace in our household, two additional wings for the most excited are absolutely essential and indispensable."

Superintendent Dr. Turner R. H. Smith

Building details for the Missouri Lunatic Asylum, Solomon Jenkins, Architect, 1849.
Missouri State Archives
Building details for the Missouri Lunatic Asylum, Solomon Jenkins, Architect, 1849.

Building specifications for the Missouri Lunatic Asylum, Solomon Jenkins, Architect, 1849.
Building specifications for the Missouri Lunatic Asylum, Solomon Jenkins, Architect, 1849.
Missouri State Archives

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Online Exhibit Created 2003
Missouri State ArchivesOffice of the Secretary of State, Missouri