Joseph Ward, of Lincoln, received the contract September 15, 1869. The building was completed at a cost of $137,000 and accepted by the commissioners November 29, 1870.
The institution was opened December 22, 1870, Dr. Larsh as superintendent, with twenty-six inmates; but its usefulness was of short duration, for it was burned April 17, 1871, and three inmates are supposed to have perished, as that number was missing. The building was heated with hot air and it is thought the fire originated in a defective flue. June 6, 1871, a bill was approved in the Legislature providing for rebuilding the hospital, which was to cost not to exceed $70,000. The commissioners were William E. Hill, D. W. Scott and Samuel Maxwell. The insurance on the first building was nearly sufficient to build the second, which is of light gray sandstone from the Atchison quarries. The central or main building is four stories in height, the wings which extend north and south, are three stories. The ground dimensions are 328x54 feet. The coming year two additions are to built, one on the north and one on the south, each four stories, 44x56 feet on the ground, which will give the building a very fine appearance. These additions are needed, as there are now 232 inmates, nearly its full capacity. Total cost of buildings thus far, is $165,000.
The following are the several superintendents: Drs. N. B. Larsh, C. F. Stewart, D. W. Scott, F. G. Fuller and H. P. Mathewson, the present incumbent, who assumed control in the fall of 1877. The assistant physicians have been Drs. H. D. Gilbert, S. B. McGlumphy and J. F. Hay. Messrs. J. C. Shurts, O. M. Druse and L. F. Taylor have successfully held the position of steward. The Commissioners of Public Lands and Buildings, Secretary of State, Treasurer and Attorney General constitute the Board of Commissioners of this, as of every other charitable institution in the State.
The hospital owns 480 acres of land, by means of which it is nominally self-sustaining, or more nearly so than similar institutions of any other State. The cost per capita per week, has been reduced from $7.70 to $3.45. Nebraska provides for all of her insane and in a very generous manner. The building is commodious, the grounds are pleasant and well kept, and in a few years will be picturesque and inviting"
from the Andreas History of the State of Nebraska, a book first published in 1882 by The Western Historical Company, A. T. Andreas, Proprietor, Chicago, IL.