Founded in 1911 as the Hospital for the Negro Insane – closed and abandoned in 2004

Jack Beckett

The Crownsville Hospital Center is a former psychiatric hospital located in Crownsville, Maryland, founded in 1911 as the Hospital for the Negro Insane.

a place to house African-American psychiatric patients separately from white patients in the other state hospitals. Photos: Forsaken Fotos/Flickr

It was the third asylum in the US designed to house only African-Americans.

It was the third asylum in the US designed to house only African-Americans.

 

Main buildings.

Main buildings.

On March 13, 1911, the first group of 12 patients arrived at Crownsville and they lived in a work camp located in a willow curing house adjacent to one of the willow ponds.

 

Inside one of the buildings.

Inside one of the buildings.

Laundry facility.

Laundry facility.

Construction on the first large building has started in October 1912 and the second building was completed in November 1913. Patients used to work on the construction of the hospital in addition to working in its day-to-day functions. Men were given manual labored work and women had to knit and mend clothing for staff as well as patients.

The first patients helped build the hospital’s first buildings on land that previously was a farm.

The first patients helped build the hospital’s first buildings on land that previously was a farm.

Greenhouse.

Greenhouse.

 

Stone wall next to greenhouse.

Stone wall next to the greenhouse.

Within a short time, smallpox and scarlet fever struck and Tuberculosis was a constant threat to the patients. The percentage of deaths based upon admissions (268 patients) was 38.43. The percentage of deaths calculated upon admissions due to tuberculosis was 29.85. Tuberculosis remained a problem for many years.

Work room.

Working room.

 

Storage.

Storage.

 

After death, many of the bodies either were claimed by family or buried in private cemeteries.

After death, many of the bodies either were claimed by family or buried in private cemeteries.

In the 1940s, conditions at the hospital deteriorated rapidly. The patient census shows that the population went from a manageable 521 in 1920 to 2,719 in 1955. After World War II, it was difficult to find male doctors to work at the hospital. Many of the doctors in the 1940s were Jews from Germany or Austria who fled the Holocaust.

White House.

White House.

 

Morgue, way back in the woods.

The morgue, way back in the woods.

 

Pump house near creek.

Pump-house near the creek.

 

In operation from 1911 to 2004.

In operation from 1911 to 2004.

In 1962 Crownsville began to accept all mental patients regardless of their race and after serving the state psychiatric inpatient population for over ninety years, the state decided to close Crownsville State Hospital on June 30, 2004. The last of its 200 patients were transferred to the state’s two remaining treatment facilities at Spring Grove Hospital Center in Baltimore County and Springfield Hospital Center in Carroll County.