Established in 1848 as the Western Lunatic Asylum of Kentucky in Hopkinsville. The original tract of land, “Spring Hill,” was composed of 386 acres and was purchased for $1,971.50 — $5.14 per acre. Citizens of Hopkinsville raised money for the land, according to the hospital’s history. The first patients were admitted in 1854 & by 1860 had 200 patients. On November 31st, 1861 a fire caused extensive damage to the main building with no injuries or fatalities. During the Civil War staff were harassed by both Union and Confederate, including capture and having supplies stolen. An unknown number of Confederate soldiers were treated at the hospital for injuries received in combat and some were buried in the property.
The hospital was rebuilt and had 2 wings added by 1867. By 1880 the hospital had about 400 patients. In 1919 the name was changed to Western State Hospital and patient population was around 1,500. Through the 1950s the number of patients steadily increased to a peak of 2,200 in 1953.
As with other state psychiatric hospitals throughout the country, the patient numbers began to decline and farming operations ceased in the early 1960s.
Western State Hospital is still in operation today utilizing the original Kirkbride building.
Contributed by Phil T. and Susan A.
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