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St Elizabeths Hospital


  • Address: 2700 Martin Luther King Jr, Ave, SE
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Historic District

St Elizabeths Hospital, founded in 1852, began operations in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane, one of the nation's earliest asylums to offer moral treatment and enlightened human care to persons with mental illness. The first medical superintendent was Charles H Nichols (1820-1889), who collaborated with the social reformer Dorothea Dix (1802-1887) to establish a model institution in the capital city. For more than a century, St Elizabeths was internationally recognized as a leading clinical and training institution. During the Civil War, the property was also used to house wounded soldiers. A reluctance of the soldiers to write home stating that they were recuperating at the Government Hospital for the Insane gave rise to the use of the name St Elizabeths, the historic name of the old royal land grant of which the campus was a part. Thereafter, the institution was informally referred to as St Elizabeths for decades until the name was formally changed by Congress in 1916. - NPS


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Timeline

Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1852/08/00 Congress appropriates $100,000 for the construction and furnishing of a mental hospital to be located in the neighborhood of Washington to provide for the insane of the District of Columbia as well as of the army and navy.
1853/00/00 Dr Charles H Nichols Associate Architect The Center Building is designed by Dr Nichols and Thomas U Walter on a modified Kirkbride Plan. The clay for the bricks for the Gothic Revival style structure was dug from the grounds of Government Hospital for the Insane and fired in ovens on site.
1853/00/00 Dr Thomas Kirkbride Consulting Architect The Center Building is designed by Dr Nichols and Thomas U Walter on a modified Kirkbride Plan. The clay for the bricks for the Gothic Revival style structure was dug from the grounds of Government Hospital for the Insane and fired in ovens on site.
1853/00/00 Thomas Ustick Walter Architect The Center Building is designed by Dr Nichols and Thomas U Walter on a modified Kirkbride Plan. The clay for the bricks for the Gothic Revival style structure was dug from the grounds of Government Hospital for the Insane and fired in ovens on site.
1855/01/15 Dr Charles H Nichols Work Charles H Nichols opens the Government Hospital for the Insane to its first patient. As the first medical superintendent, Dr Nichhols collaborates with the social reformer Dorothea Dix to establish a model institution.
1855/01/15 Dorothea Lynde Dix Vocation Charles H Nichols opens the Government Hospital for the Insane to its first patient. As the first medical superintendent, Dr Nichhols collaborates with the social reformer Dorothea Dix to establish a model institution.
1860/00/00 Dr Charles H Nichols General Contractor Dr Nichols supervises the construction of the hospital. Over 25 years, Nichols was involved in most aspects of construction. By 1860, over 9 million bricks had been made on site at 23 the cost, strong patients of the laboring class dug the clay.
1903/00/00 Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge Architect Features three-story tall columns facing a quad, the Main Building at Government Hospital for the Insane is built. Other Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge patient care facilities are built across west campus, 1901-1908.
1916/00/00 After the Government Hospital for the Insane had been informally called St Elizabeths for decades, Congress formally changes the name in 1916.
1929/00/00 Helena Huntington Smith Mother Helena Smith Pringle gives birth to a son Geoffrey. Born with severe brain damage, he will be cared for at St Elizabeths Hospital in Washington.
1946/06/00 Ezra Pound Patient Ezra Pound is admitted to St Elizabeths Hospital for Narcissistic personality disorder
1953/00/00 Katherine Anne Porter Life Katherine Porter visits Ezra Pound at St Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, DC.

Data »

Particulars for St Elizabeths Hospital:
Area of Significance Architecture
Criteria Architecture-Engineering
Historic Use Cemetery
Owner Federal
Architectural Style Gothic Revival
Area of Significance Health-medicine
Sight Category Historic District
Criteria Historic Event
Historic Use Hospital
Disease Mental Illness
Level of Significance National
Criteria Person
Area of Significance Social History



US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration:

PLACE DETAILS
Registry Name:
Registry Address:
Registry Number: 79003101
Resource Type:
Owner: Federal
Architect: Walter,Thomas U.; Shepley,Rutan and Coolidge
Architectural Style: Gothic revival, Gothic
Other Certification: Designated National Landmark
Nominator Name: National Historic Landmark
CULTURAL DETAILS
Level of Significance: National
Area of Significance: Architecture, Health-medicine, Social history
Applicable Criteria: Person, Event, Architecture-Engineering
Period of Significance: 1850-1874
Significant Year: 1852, 1878, 1902
Associated People: Nichols,Dr. Charles H.,et al.
Historic Function: Health care, Funerary
Historic Sub-Function: Hospital, Cemetery
Current Function: Health care
Current Sub-Function: Hospital

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