History of the NSH

 

  • 1855 -- A state commission announces that Northampton has been selected as a site for the state's third hospital for the insane. Later that year, 172 acres is purchased for $13,000.
  • 1858 -- During the spring, construction of the Northampton Lunatic Hospital is completed. The cost of the project is $300,000.

    The hospital consisted of one large building and was modeled after an Elizabethan style of architecture. On July 1, the first patient is admitted. By Oct. 1, there are 220 patients admitted.

  • 1903 -- Title of the institution is changed permanently to the Northampton State Hospital. A new infirmary for women also opens. The patient population is up to about 650, and the number of employess is 135.
  • 1935 -- A new heating plant, a new laundry building, a fourth ward building, a cafeteria, and a tunnel connecting the new complex to the old are constructed. There are now approximately 2,100 patients and 420 employees at the hospital.
  • 1952 -- Dr. Jack R. Ewalt is appointed as superintendent. Ewalt is credited with making a number of changes to the hospital, including re-modeling of wards, adding a number of patient clinics and the opening of a beauty parlor, which supposedly had strong results in the rehablitation of female patients.

    The hospital now has 2,331 patients and 509 employees.

  • 1978 -- A federal court in December orders the hospital to be shut down. That step followed a request to the court to end the institutionalization of the mentally ill.
  • 1990 -- The state Legislature passes a bill that makes 154 acres of the property and some buildings available for reuse. The bills passage capped a four-year effort led by State Rep. William P. Nagle.
  • 1991 -- The state announces in June that the hospital will close in one year, which was eventually delayed to two years. The hospital is closing under a plan to move mentally ill patients into private care. The final closing meant that 129 patients will be moved and 315 jobs lost.
  • 1993 -- On Aug. 26, the last 17 patients leave the hospital.

-- MARK CYBULSKI