If you were unfortunate enough to suffer from depression or any
form of mental illness in the early 1800's you could look forward to your
family hiding you away from the public eye.
For some it meant being watched by family and monitored while in
public. For others it was a living hell, restrained in an attic or basement so
you couldn't harm anyone. Unlike
today there were no drugs or people to talk to, there weren’t even
hospitals for mental illness. That
changed in the mid 1800's due in part to people like Dorothea Dix.
She started a campaign for the humane treatment of individuals
suffering from mental illness. Her
efforts led to the construction of numerous asylums across the country.
The bulk of these asylums were constructed using Dr. Thomas Kirkbride's linear plan. This plan consisted of a large central administration
building flanked by two wings comprised of tiered patient wards. One
wing housed females and the other housed males. This plan gave the
asylums a "bat wing" appearance. These buildings were some of the most lavish hospitals ever
built. Their intention was to create a serene, spacious, and peaceful
environment for the patients to recover in. These self-sufficient asylums were beautifully landscaped and covered
hundreds of acres.