Skip to main content

tv   American Artifacts History of St. Elizabeths Hospital 1852-2017  CSPAN  November 15, 2020 10:00pm-11:00pm EST

10:00 pm
yet gotten a handle on what faulkner was doing, they often >> excellent, thank you so much for joining us. good luck with the rest of your virtual book tour. >> i hope my mouse comes back. ok, bye bye. >> you're watching history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span three. >> each week, american history tv's american artifacts visits museums and historic places. up next, a visit to the national building museum to learn about the exhibit "architecture of an asylum, st. elizabeth's, 1852 to 2017." known as the government hospital for the insane when it opened in 1852, it was built with a view of washington, d.c. at its peak in 1960, st. elizabeth's had almost 8,000 patients and covered 300 acres.
10:01 pm
it is still open today. in this hour-long program, curator sarah levit shows us what architecture can reveal about how the mentally ill were cared for over time. >> we decided to do this exhibition for many reasons, one of which i think it's a real important moment to be talking about the role of the federal government in providing public health and providing healthcare for the mentally ill. and what that role has been over time. i think this is an interesting time to talk about that. also, right now, at st. elizabeth's in d.c., it's really a time where they're looking to develop the land. it's now split into two halves, the federal government owns half of it and it will become the department of homeland security, which is something that's happening right now and also development is really starting on the east campus, which is owned by the city of washington, d.c., it's a really interesting time to start talking about that since they're really moving forward and starting that development process.
10:02 pm
this is the great hall as we call it in the old u.s. pension building. the building from 1887 was built for veterans and their families to come get their pensions, mostly civil war veterans, but also from other earlier wars, some of their family members who were still alive and it was the pension building for many decades until the v.a. the veterans administration kind of took that over and then it was still owned by the federal government, it was an office building, became a museum in the 1980s. we're going to start our story in the 1850s by looking at what's happening in mental healthcare at that time, and some people who were trying to change what's happening by building these large asylums. so come on in. so welcome into our exhibition, here we're going to start by looking at some architectural fragments from the original building at st. elizabeth's, which is called the center building, that's the building that was built in 1855.
10:03 pm
we're going to learn a lot more about that building in the kirkbride style, one of 80 hospitals that were built in that style for mental health patients in the 19th century and the latter half of the 19th century. so we start the exhibition in here by looking at some of those architectural fragments i mentioned as well as some patient art. one of the things that we'll see throughout the exhibition is art that was done by patients either as part of therapy or just recreationally. this piece was actually on the wall in the plaster wall of the building it depicts, which is the center building. we're going to come on here and start talking about our story and those two ideas, which are the history of mental healthcare and also the land use at the site at st. elizabeth's. here we talk a little bit about how our definition of mental health has changed over time, and of mental illness has changed over time, look a little bit at some diagnoses of patients, and then we're looking at how did people think that the mentally ill should be cared for, what should happen to them,
10:04 pm
how should they be cared for at home, which happened certainly, a lot, still does, or if they should be cared for at a hospital, separate purpose built institution. so certainly before the mid19th before the mid-19th century, there were a lot of different places where you would find the mentally ill, many were in jail or almshouses, places for the poor. and a reformer at the time visited several hundred of these types of places all around the country. in fact, she traveled the world and saw the really terrible, wretched conditions of people who were not being treated well and it really touched her. she was a sunday school teacher, she taught, she's a christian teacher, and she really believed that empathy instead of hardship was really the way to treat people and she really -- she also firmly believed that it was the role of the government, specifically the government and not just private organizations
10:05 pm
to help treat people and really devoted her life to changing the situation for the mentally ill. and one of the places that she wanted to really make a difference in terms of how the mentally ill were treated was here in washington, d.c. so she came to d.c. and she worked with the secretary of the interior. she talked to the president of the united states and she also worked with thomas kirkbride, who i alluded to earlier. he was a doctor, a physician who worked with the mentally ill who had a lot of very specific ideas about what type of architecture could actually cure the patients. she worked with him and she found, she identified the land. and if you come over here, you can see this is the land that she found and the photo over here of the farm, the original farm that was at the site. and dicks convinced the farm owner and his wife to sell the land to the federal government, which they did in 1852 and that's where they sited the
10:06 pm
hospital, we call it st. elizabeth's. originally, it was called the government hospital for the insane. so i mentioned dorothea dix, she was part of a larger movement. it certainly wasn't just her although we really honor her with a lot of really hard work that she did over the decades, she was part of the moral treatment movement. it was a project of the new enlightenment in the mid to late 19th century. it was really a lot of people who really had a different idea about how to treat those with mental illness. they used the word empathy a lot. they used this idea of moral treatment, the way that people would be treated well, and then that would in turn help cure them, so she really believed strongly that the architecture and that the different kind of treatment could cure the patients. did his cure the patients? you know, it depended on what their symptoms were and what, you know, if they had a
10:07 pm
degenerative brain disease or suffering from late stage n , no.syphilis but empathy and fresh air and all of these treatments that she and other proponents really believed in certainly went a long way to making their lives, you know, at least more comfortable as long as the conditions were right in the building. we'll get to that more in a little bit, i wanted to show you ix's desk onea d which she wrote the legislation to open the government hospital for the insane in the 1850s. she then donated the desk to st. elizabeth's hospital and there's actually a plaque on top of the desk that you can see in the upper left corner where she dedicates this desk to her colleagues at the hospital, especially superintendent nichols, the first superintendent of the hospital. the desk then sat there at the hospital for many years, probably about a century, and then it was later given to the smithsonian, to the museum of
10:08 pm
american history, national museum of american history which owns it today. we borrowed it from them. so here before we enter what we call the age of the asylum, before we get into the story of st. elizabeth's itself, we look him here a little bit at the treatment of mental illness and how that has changed over time to look at some of the ways that the treatment had to do with the architecture of the building. for example, actually, let's go over here so you can see the hydrotherapy baths. we're lucky in this exhibition to have the opportunity to use 20 original architectural drawings from the library of congress collection, so this one is one that shows the hired -- hydrotherapy baths, which were treatment baths, they would be either all hot to calm a patient or cold to stimulate a patient. they also would do wraps to wrap up the patient in wet blankets, but the idea with the drawing here is that this treatment was connected to the building, so
10:09 pm
that it was part of the infrastructure of the site, which matters because in different buildings, you have different groups of patients. for example, white men would get the treatment first because it would be in their building where they lived and then white women, and then african-american patients well after that, several years after that. so it really -- when the treatment is connected to the architecture that way, you can see the story of how treatment differs for different patients with different symptoms over time and that's something we want to look at. at st. elizabeth's, they used a lot of different treatments over the years. it's had a very long history. so we see here some examples of art therapy and dance therapy, which are two things i do want to point out. we show throughout the show, we look at throughout the show that it's a story of architecture and the change of architecture over time. it's not particularly a story of individual patients, but one way that i wanted to get the patient voices in the exhibition is to use a lot of patient art so you'll see a little more of that here.
10:10 pm
this is a fantastic piece and actually, there's a really interesting article that goes through all the different symbols in the piece, there's a lot of religious symbols in it, it was done by a patient at st. elizabeth's and there's various biblical scenes, the virgin mary appears, the idea here was that she was working through some trauma with the lace piece. it's now owned by the national museum of health and medicine. they have loaned several pieces to us. we also have right in this case, he's right here, the magic nationallide from the library of medicine. they have a collection of several hundred of those and you can see it's kind of disturbing, you have a man lying peacefully in bed and he's having a nightmare in which an armadillo is sitting on a turtle holding a lobster and a sword and the idea there apparently was a pretty popular therapy technique for patients who needed to be
10:11 pm
stimulated in some way and you would open -- they would project the slides, and then slide open the image to show something very disturbing and startling to the patients. so in the collection, you can see several hundred different versions of things, terrible things that befall people, falling off ladders and having terrible dreams and all kinds of things. it sounds a little disturbing, but apparently, the idea was to shock the patient. this is -- yeah, this is what's called a potentiometer. it is an electro-shock therapy machine. that's a technique that was used also to kind of shock the patient and stimulate their whole system, it's something that's still used today in certain -- certain -- for certain patients under certain circumstances. not this type, of course, mid-20th century machine, but a much more improved version.
10:12 pm
this right here is marion chase, who was a dance therapist and she was an innovator and a pioneer of dance therapy and in the mid 20th century, and she's working here with patients, which i do think has to do also with moving through the space, moving bodies through the spaces of the building, so it's not specifically an architecture story, but it does have to do with how patients are moving, moving through the spaces at st. elizabeth's. so we're going to now get under this arch to the age of the asylum. the mid-19th century through the mid-20th century, it's about a century long period, it grows and then wanes, of the idea that we would separate people who are different in some way into an asylum into a separate area away from the stresses of the city and also away from all the people that lived there to really separate them out, hopefully, to treat them but also as a way kind of on the converse of that to be able to ignore them also from the larger
10:13 pm
society so that's certainly something you see throughout that century, that then ends when you get to the deinstitutionalization in the 1970's and 1980's. latest talk a little bit about thomas kirkbride. he was a physician, pennsylvania, he worked with mental health patients, and he decided that the architecture was a way to become a cure for the patients, the architecture itself, the landscape architecture itself would be a cure for the patients so he wrote a book in the 1850s, 1854 where he described the guidelines. it wasn't just him. he had worked with a lot of different physicians, a lot of different places, came to this kind of conclusion that there was some guidelines that people could follow to build this particular kind of hospital and this is an example of the floor plan. it's kind of that telltale v shape like a bird in flight with the wings radiating out from the
10:14 pm
central core there and the idea was that in that central core would be the administrative offices, the home of the superintendent, and his family if he had one, and then the patient wards would radiate out from the center, the women on one side, the men on the other side, this was all for white patients at st. elizabeth's. the african-american patients were housed in separate buildings and that was true at most mental health hospitals. also, the different patients with different symptoms would live in different areas. the ones with more severe symptoms out on the ends, of course, the farthest away from the superintendent who would be in the middle. the idea also with those radiating wings was that the patients would have ventilation and natural light coming in into all their individual rooms. which is a big difference when you look and we have some floor plans to show of the african-american houses, they were called the lodges for the colored insane at st. elizabeth's and they did not have individual rooms. they did not have that ventilation and light coming in in the same way, more dormitory style. you can see that the
10:15 pm
architecture already is telling a story about how the patients were treated at the hospital. if you come in this way actually, we can look at -- here i can show you right here on this map, in terms of st. elizabeth's, the idea was again with the building, you can see that shape right there, this is a topographical map from 1860, so it is pretty early in the history, and here, they're labeled with the two, here and here and those are the west lodge and the east lodge, which you can see here identified right there, lodges for the colored insane. another important thing about this plan is you can really see the landscape. the landscape is almost just as important as the architecture. you can see they were starting some farm areas, there's trees that are planted and also there's a view, the view out from the building onto this confluence of the rivers there, the potomac. that was really important to get that therapeutic view as they called it so the landscape itself was part of the therapy. and you can see as we come in
10:16 pm
here, one of the things i wanted to look at was how the kirkbride plan happened all over the country. so it's a story that's not just here in washington, d.c. at the federal hospital but also at the state level, all these different hospitals. here's a map where you can see, about 80 of them, i think 78 that we've identified all over the country. obviously, more towards the east coast, and then some on the west coast, as well. this is the one from my home town, mendota state in madison, wisconsin. you can see behind me there's one from utah, you can see the mountains there. and all over the country. one interesting thing that you'll start to recognize the shape of the building, of course, they all look different, they all had different architects, although there were some architects that work on more than one, but they had different architecture and they're just really, really beautiful examples of late 19th century institutional architecture in the united
10:17 pm
states. and many of them have been renovated and restored and are now today serving other uses. we talk about some of those stories here. however, having said that, of that almost 80 that were built, about 34 remain. you can see from that map, a lot of them have been demolished. so the ones that are still around, there's a lot of groups that are trying to save them and really preserve not only the beautiful buildings but also the history that they can help us remember. so i talked a little bit about some architectural fragments that came out of the center building and that's what you'll see here. here we have some of the ventilation grills, the window bars. you can see one of the reasons that we wanted these to be so prominent here in the design is you can really see the idea, this was a decorated building, a decorative building. kirkbride did not want these to look like prisons. they're homes for people.
10:18 pm
and so he really paid attention to the details and all the architects who worked on the buildings really followed that through their design. here's some brings that were used, the patients themselves did some of the brick firing, st. elizabeth, the bricks were fired on campus from clay that was there. here we have one of everyone's favorite object is the dog footprint at some point in the 1850s, a dog walked by, tend on -- stepped on this brick and left it in the file and of course, we found it, you know, 150 years later. there it is. so all of these architectural fragments like this door, they actually came out of the building. the building right now, the center building is in the process of a lot of change and it will be, we'll see and drawings of it a little later, but it will become the home of the secretary of the department of homeland security so it will be reused as a 21st century office building.
10:19 pm
here we talked a little bit about the segregation at st. elizabeth's, it was segregated for its first 100 years from right off the bat through 1954 through the federal desegregation laws. and you can see one of the things that that does is provide different, separate housing for the african-american patients, this is the west lodge for men and this is a floor plan of the east lodge and you can see the dormitory style is much different from the patients, the white patients at the center building. one of the things that i was really interested in, when doing the research for this show is to talk about how st. elizabeth's was separated from the rest of the city by a wall or a fence for most of its history so you'll see kind of that motif of the wall going through the show. and this is an example just of an architectural drawing of one of the gates, and then some images, this is what you would
10:20 pm
see if you're driving down the street in washington, d.c. and you can see the fences everywhere, that's the public face of the campus to the rest of the city. this is the daily census. that's what they called the count of patients at the hospital on any given day. this one is set to march of 1963 because that was the height of the patient population on campus. so that's why it's set to that date. that population grew and grew and grew basically its entire first century, a story of population growth. there's a lot of different reasons for that, but certainly lack of other places to go and changes in diagnoses and rise in different kinds of things, alcoholism and drug use, and neurosyphilis over the course of the early 20th century, tuberculosis, there's a lot of different diseases, the patients who also suffered from mental illness would come to assistant
10:21 pm
-- saint elizabeth's. also, saint elizabeth's was the hospital for the army and the navy as well as the citizens of d.c. so they had this extra population that was coming in. that relationship ended at the end of world war ii in 1946 with the rise of the veterans administration, the v.a. hospitals is where those patients would be transferred to at that point. but anyway, this is an example of, first of all, the way they count people by men and women and then white and colored as you see and also just to represent that huge rise in population over that first century. colored probably also incorporated at st. elizabeth's not only african-american patients, but also other people of color including native americans. there was a small, but constant population of native americans in the 20th century. they did have another federal hospital that was called the canton asylum for insane indians, which is in south dakota, but that was closed down in 1933 after -- which was the
10:22 pm
federal level cabinet role that ran these hospitals, when he took over, he kind of reevaluated the bureau of indian affairs and had them go check things out and do an investigation. one of the things that they did was closed down that asylum. they decided that a lot of the patients there were not actually mentally ill, sent them home and the rest of the patients came to st. elizabeth's at that point. and then many of them lived the rest of their lives at the hospital so we know there certainly were other patients of color throughout the 20th century. as for how a patient was identified as what race, there's a lot of work actually that's been done about that by various scholars who have looked more closely at the patient records and the easy answer is it varied over time and depended who was looking at the records. also, some of the patients who could pay more money were then treated better and i did talk to one scholar who's working on this story of an african-american patient whose
10:23 pm
family paid for his residence and that put him in the center building instead of the best west lodge. that is just one example, but that might have happened more than once. in terms of how their diseases were categorized based on their race, that certainly happened, as well. there's a lot of examples of scholars, for example, coming to study. karl jung, for example, came to study the dreams of african-american patients to see if they were different from the dreams of mentally ill white patients so there was a lot of interest in that. and then also, certainly how they were treated definitely was different depending on their race and also gender over time for sure. also their sexuality. that's a whole other issue that we haven't talked about yet. absolutely, there were patients that were being treated for the supposed mental illness of being gay or lesbian so that was a whole other way that they would
10:24 pm
separate patients and the treatment might have been different. that one doesn't have as much of an architectural component, whereas the racial segregation really did have an architectural separation. here's a little bit of information about the superintendents, the leadership. above me is charles nichols, the first superintendent. that's probably also patient art. that was another one they cut out of the wall for us. it was out of plaster in the building that had deteriorated over time. first five superintendents that take us from the 1850s through 1962, those men, they were all men, were all presidents of the professional association of superintendents of mental hospitals that became the american psychiatric association. so they were pretty prominent people in their field and all of those people were superintendents at st. elizabeth's. so we look at those five first superintendents as that historical story of the time,
10:25 pm
110 years.rst leadersonly five over 110 years, that really means there was a lot of continuity of leadership over that time. so here's some of our objects here shows some of that story of the administration of the hospital. one of the things, though, is to look here at the investigation, there's so many of these, we really want to make sure i say that, that st. elizabeth's was constantly under investigation by congress. one of the advantages from a historian's point of view of st. elizabeth's being the federal hospital is because they're in the congressional record, they're easily available so any researcher can go look at them and see kind of how the hospital was arguing for various things over time in terms of justifying the discharges of patients, they were under attack a lot for different treatments, terrible food, other kinds of repairs to the buildings that weren't happening. things like that, so you can really trace that over time
10:26 pm
throughout all of these investigations. the first superintendent, in fact, dr. nichols once wrote to dorothy ea dix, they had a long correspondence over the years, he wrote that he felt as though they were living over a volcano because there was so much happening both with the congressional investigations and then just also so many things that he had to do and worry about and constant change and worry about overcrowding and funding and all of that over time. there's two cemeteries at st. elizabeth's. on the west campus and the east campus. the west campus is the older part of the campus, and then the east campus has several thousand graves, many of them unmarked. there's in process the idea to put a memorial to patients that are resting in unmarked graves at all of the government sponsored hospitals around the country because there are thousands of them around the country. that memorial hasn't happened yet, but the cemetery is still there, of course, and the military graves are marked, but
10:27 pm
there's thousands of patients that died, they called it friendless, that had nobody to pick them up. there they lie. they're still there. and then just a little bit about the civil war, during the civil war at the hospital, it was used as a general hospital in addition to its role as a mental health hospital and that's when people started using the name st. elizabeth's instead of the government hospital for the insane, which the soldiers who were patients there didn't want to use that term. st. elizabeth's was the original name of the land tract so they went back to using st. elizabeth's. it was officially changed in 1916, which is interesting because st. elizabeth, she's a hungarian patron saint of healing, which is a nice coincidence. so the original architecture of saint elizabeth's, the central building proved insufficient to house all the patients so they
10:28 pm
looked at different types of architecture for different types of purposes. that's where you see the growth of the cottage plan, as they call it. howard hall is a different example because howard hall was the -- they called the home for the insane criminals. these are people who were remanded to care by the courts. we call them forensic patients now and you can see the shape of the building, the original courtyard was inside that shape. what you're looking at here is a report from 1911 that they're petitioning for more funding to build a fence around the whole building so patients can be outside on the edges of the building. that's what you are looking at and that is the architectural drawing. they did in fact, build that wall and howard hall stood as the place for what they called insane criminals at the time until the 1950s.
10:29 pm
then this building was destroyed and they built a much larger building called john howard pavilion after prison reformer john howard, and that building was then demolished a couple of years ago, but that building took over this function. but you see here some cottages, some of these smaller buildings on campus, the idea was that the large building where all the functions of the hospital were in the one building wasn't really tenable when there was more and more and more patients and the expansion of the patient population really changed the idea of how the architecture itself would cure the patient. the idea of the cottage plan was that the smaller building and a more home-like atmosphere would actually be more beneficial to the patients. here's your more prominent patients that you might be wondering about. certainly almost every single person when i mention st. elizabeths talks either about ezra pound or john hinckley. those are two of certainly the most famous patients. but, of course, there were so many thousands of patients at
10:30 pm
st. elizabeths that are more anonymous, and we don't know much more about their stories other than that they were here. so there's certainly several attempted presidential assassins, including richard lawrence, who tried to assassinate president jackson. we also have charles guiteau, who shot president garfield, and then, of course, we end up with john hinckley, who tried to assassinate president reagan. throughout the centuries, many of these patients found themselves remanded to care at st. elizabeths. many of the superintendents at st. elizabeths, because of their prominence in the field were called on at these trials, and superintendent godding, for example, testified at guiteau's trial, and he really wanted that defense, that "not guilty by reason of insanity," to be invoked, so a lot of the doctors and the superintendents at the
10:31 pm
hospital really believed that that should be used more often. it is controversial over time. it certainly was in the "newsweek" article that we have here about john hinckley, about whether that should even be allowed. so it's certainly controversial over time. so saint elizabeths, like others of its type, was almost a self-sufficient campus. it had a farm, what we call now the east campus, what used to be the farm. that was a farm that was at a dairy farm. you can see the milk bottles and they're labeled st. elizabeths right on the bottle. they had their own dairy farm here. they also had fruit trees and greenhouses and a lot of other farm buildings, piggeries. we have the architectural drawing of the horse stable behind me. many of the patients themselves worked on the farm. later on, they hired more and more staff, and it was more of a professional staff, and as the campus grew and grew and grew,
10:32 pm
they built more and more structures for patients around the turn of the 20th century. especially in 1902, there was a pretty major expansion. they built onto the east campus and they bought further farmland in oxen hill, maryland, and eventually by the 1980's, the -- by the 1960's, the farm was starting to shut down and they were just purchasing most of their food elsewhere so this was a story kind of the first century of the hospital and that farm production was part of the therapy at the time. partly because they believed that hard work would be good for the patients, although not all of the patients had the opportunity to work on the farm. certainly, the women, for example, tended to be more inside, doing jobs, such as laundry and food preparation, and also the white men probably had more opportunity to work with the horses and different types of jobs like that. the was part of the
10:33 pm
work therapy. it was part of also having the rural view, rural location for the hospital. in fact, many of the superintendents thought the idea of having this agrarian kind of utopia was this idea that the farm would contribute to that. and when st. elizabeths itself was first built there in the 1850's, it was really on the rural outskirts of the city. the city kind of grew around it, and neighborhoods started, especially in the 1920's and 30's, the neighbors started encroaching on the hospital, but for its first several decades it really was out in a rural area. this is, of course, one of my favorite pieces of the whole show, this spectacular model from 1904. it was made first for the world's fair of 1904 in st. louis. it was displayed as part of the department of the interior's display of their work on behalf of the people of the united states, and then it was added onto in the 1930's, and it was
10:34 pm
taken around again for the world's fairs of the 1930's. you can really see in this model the growth of the campus across this road. this road that slices the campus in half, this is called the "west campus." that was the first. you can see the center building in there, that v-shaped building, and then this is the "east campus," which was first a farm that that was purchased in the 1860's and then obviously became space for patient housing. most of the buildings that you see here on this model, not all of them, but most of them, still stand. so this is really a beautiful way to kind of see how large the campus was and how then the city kind of grew around it. the congress heights metro, for example, is over here, and then there is this fence. you can see this tiny, little wall. it goes across the whole campus and here it is. and there's a fence over by mlk.
10:35 pm
this used to be -- it was first called "asylum road," because it led to the asylum. it was then called "nichols avenue" after the first superintendent, and then in 1971, in that period of home rule when washington, d.c., is starting to think about taking back some of this land from the federal government, in 1971, they renamed the street "martin luther king avenue," so that's what it is now. but there's still that fence that surrounds the campus, and that really separates the campus from the rest of the city. so, yes, there's a couple of new buildings, of course, that have been built since this model was built. there's many of the huge patient buildings of the 1940's through the 1960's that were built after this model and then since demolished, and then, there is a couple, probably the major, new construction here would be the coast guard building, which is over here. that's part of the new department of homeland security construction, and then the new
10:36 pm
hospital, which is built in 2010, and that's where all the hospital functions were consolidated to that site in 2010, and that is over by the cemetery, way in the corner over there. that is the east campus cemetery, and then right kind of south, below that is where the hospital is now. this right here, these buildings, they are in the process of being converted into apartments. so this is the half of the campus that the city owns, and this is where the entertainment center will go, where the wizards will practice and the mystics will play, that whole complex, and all of that city development is happening on this side. this is an example of something, one of the things that's on this model that no longer exists, the semi-permanent buildings, and those were constructed after world war i to house all the patients coming, the veterans coming, after the war, and they stood up through world war ii and housed veterans from world war ii, and then they were demolished after that. and then, you can see howard hall there with the wall around it that i spoke about before,
10:37 pm
for the so-called "criminally insane." that is about it. so that is demolished now. that's no longer there. that's about where the coast guard building is now. so what was life like for patients on st. elizabeths campus? that's, of course, a ridiculous question to pose and answer because there's thousands of patients over 150 years, and also even patients on the same day on the same campus would have had vastly different experiences depending on their symptoms, gender, race, all of these types of things, and how long they had been there, but we try to point out a little bit of activity on campus and things that are available to the patients to try to make their lives pleasant while they were there. hitchcock hall here, it was the auditorium for what they called "psychodrama," which was drama therapy, and they showed movies there and had the opportunity for some entertainment, as well. there was, of course, sports, music.
10:38 pm
there's music and sports were a big part of people's lives. they had this plan for a grandstand for the baseball grounds. here are some examples of patients playing badminton and boxing. you can see there's probably a racial dimension in terms of what sports were offered to different patients. a gentleman playing baseball here, so certainly there were a lot of recreation opportunities. the library would have been a big opportunity for some patients to be able to read novels and other types of books. we did find a catalog of books that were available at the library. we also had a patient newsletter. so we certainly found examples all over of different types of entertainment and ways that that was connected to how the patients moved around the campus. there's a beauty shop that they could get to. there was a chapel.
10:39 pm
at first, the chapel was in the center building. they didn't have a separate chapel building until 1955, so for its first century, they had different types of services for different denominations right there in the center building. there certainly were patients from every religion. we've seen some examples of people coming from different religious groups from d.c. into the hospital to lead services. for example, jewish services or a passover seder, things like that. most of the chapel was based on protestant christian worship, but they did have a chaplain who would talk to patients, and they had that opportunity. all these images on this wall are kind of telling that story of the expansion of the campus, and you can really see the growth through various different plans and site maps. this is one of my favorite architectural drawings because it shows -- this is the underpass under nichols avenue to get people and cars -- at the time, it was not cars, of
10:40 pm
course, it was horses and wagons and other kinds of transportation -- to get people from the west campus to the east campus, so it tells that story of the expansion of the campus. they all of a sudden need to move a lot more people at the turn of the 20th century as they're constructing more patient buildings on the east campus, so that's what this underpass represents. another aspect, important aspect, of daily life on the campus was the medical care. there was a nursing school on the campus and medical research was something that was really important on the campus, as well, so you can see here are some examples of some equipment that was used, glassware that was used in the lab. saint elizabeth's had one of the busiest laboratories, the blackburn lab, after isaac blackburn, one of the researchers there. and they were doing a lot of important neurological research and especially studies of the brains of the mentally ill. that was one of their major contributions, and we have a
10:41 pm
book here, where every page has a brain image of a different patient and then a discussion of how you can see that mental illness in the neuropathology of the brain. so that was something they were starting to work on with autopsies, and we have a photograph here. this is a much later photograph from 2005 after the autopsy gallery had closed, but it really shows the importance of research to what was happening at st. elizabeths. they really wanted to understand the brains of the mentally ill and understand then how to treat people medically. some of the research that they did especially on alzheimer's and dementia is still used today, absolutely. so they -- i think, you know, medical research always builds on itself, right, so they really provided some of the basis of how people are still learning about mental illness. we talked about the first 110 years of the hospital from the
10:42 pm
1850's into the 1960's, so for that first 110 years, that age of the asylum, the population is growing. by the 1960's, in the mid-20th century, there was a really different understanding of what these buildings represented. once they represented huge campuses, empathy, and that moral treatment of the patient. after 100 years, people started thinking of them more as warehouses, separating these people from society unnecessarily and against their will, and there was a lot of movement to try to get the patients back out of these hospitals. certainly, patient rights movements were growing during this time. also, because of better scientific research and understanding of the medicalization of mental healthcare and understanding how and research and to discover better drugs that could help patients live on their own, that
10:43 pm
research certainly has come to a point by the late 20th century where many patients could live on their own that would have had may be more trouble before, so that in combination with the patients rights movement and with the reluctance of the federal government to spend the amount of money that they needed to spend on housing these people, all of those things came together in the late 20th century. it started with president kennedy actually in 1963, when he, a couple of weeks before he died, actually signed a bill and made a speech about mental health and mental retardation funding, and his idea was that instead of these large custodial hospitals, he said that patients would be able to get care in community mental health clinics, and he envisioned a network of 1,500 of these clinics all over the country. however, that never came to pass. and he did start the process of closing down the big hospitals, but the funding, the federal funding for those clinics, never accrued, and so several hundred
10:44 pm
of them were built, and saint elizabeths itself was transferred, part of it, into a community mental health clinic, but in terms of a nationwide solution, that never happened. and you can see that funding decrease and decrease and, of course, the omnibus budget bill of 1981, which was reagan's budget, president reagan's budget in 1981, really cut off the end of the federal funding for mental healthcare. and that's something that certainly we're still discussing today in the new healthcare debate about, especially medicaid funding for mental healthcare. so it's certainly something that we have struggled with and continue to. so as we go under this deinstitutionalization arch, we kind of find out what happened to st. elizabeths during that time. here's a floor plan where they're changing over one of the patient buildings, alison d., into the community mental health center.
10:45 pm
basically, these custodial, the residential buildings, are being transferred over into more outpatient buildings, and we have some examples of these booklets which are trying to explain that process. this one is from 1971 and explaining the process of what happens in the '60's in terms of separating out the federal hospital into more localized community healthcare. here, this booklet, right here, is discussing community outreach towards the hispanic population. so that's something we haven't talked about before, but we really see that by the 1970's, there's a much-increased population of different groups at saint elizabeths, and the administrators are dealing with that in various ways. so even though deinstitutionalization happens and we often think about that as the time when the hospital wanes down, there's still thousands of patients at st. elizabeths, still a working hospital through the end of the 20th century, still a working hospital today.
10:46 pm
like i said, with almost 300 beds. so it's still -- and certainly more patients than that who are getting outpatient care, as well, so it is still a hospital during that time. however, having said that, you saw the model, you understand that there was -- there had been probably almost 100 buildings on campus. as the population wanes, you don't need that many buildings, so what happens to all of those buildings? and that is part of our story, as well. a lot of the materials left behind. you can see the center building, all boarded up, warehoused. moth-balled, as they call it in the government, when they want to keep the building, but they don't know what to do with it quite yet, so they closed it up. a lot of stuff was left behind there. these are just some examples of things that we picked out that were found in the building much later on. these huge buildings that were -- that are now, you know, sitting empty with the paint peeling. it's a poignant reminder of this infrastructure that we once had
10:47 pm
to care for the mentally ill that we have basically -- it's basically gone now and really changed into something else. so here is an example. here's a photograph of the new hospital from 2010, and, as i mentioned, certainly, there are patients there, but also, we're still working as a nation, as a society, on what to do with patients who are mentally ill, how to help them, how to help integrate people into society and also help them, you know, recover, live on their own and these are just some headlines plucked from the news from 2016 about maybe how we haven't quite answered all those questions yet. just a note about the exhibition, we show three documentaries here, a little theater, pieces of three documentaries. one is from 1955. one is from 1989, and all of them have patient voices in that story, bringing those patients into the story, what do they
10:48 pm
think about how their care is being administered. [video plays] ♪ >> i have a dream, just like martin luther king had a dream, and my dream is to have one day, we all go together. all of us leave. nobody's too bad to go. >> i called my sister out in missouri and told her i was doing this, and she said, "what?" but, yeah. i am doing something. and lord knows i hope it breaks down all that stigma about mental illness. >> how could society forget about what we were and more of what we are? [video ends] sarah: when we started out we were talking about the architecture of mental healthcare and also about land use at the site at st. elizabeths, so this is where we end the story, with the west campus here and then we'll look at the east campus. the west campus is now -- it's
10:49 pm
still owned by the federal government, as it has been since 1852. and it is now set to become the home of the department of homeland security. this is a model of the add-on, the west wing addition to the center building. you can see the center building there, and this is the add-on, the new part down here, so you can see how they are transforming -- they're planning to transform this space into office space for all the different agencies that make up the department of homeland security. so you can see the center building. this is what it looked like last fall. it's -- it was basically gutted and going to be rebuilt from the ground up, literally, and this is a rendering of the idea of what it's going to look like when the secretary of homeland security has his or her offices there in a couple of years. the coast guard, i think i already mentioned, is already there. this is the coast guard's building from the top. you can see it has a green roof.
10:50 pm
and one of the plans as they're taking pieces out of the building, for example, this stencil, they'll paint that back up on the wall so that the center building will be recognizable in its new incarnation. the dining hall is actually a really beautiful example of historic preservation. this is the 1855 architectural drawing for the dining hall for -- as they separated into the cottage plan, the patients were then eating, living and eating, in separate buildings. in center building, they were all eating in the same place. this is an example of the change in the way the architecture worked for the patients in the late 19th century. anyways, it's a dining hall again today. the gfa has restored it, complete with the interior view of it now. of course, the picnic tables are new. but it now serves again its original purpose, so that is kind of a neat historic
10:51 pm
preservation story. so now, we'll move into looking at what's at the east campus and how the city grew around the east campus in the 20th century, and then kind of a little bit of what's happening there today. here's -- it's a great picture of that moment that i talked about earlier in 1971 where they're changing the street sign from nichols avenue to mlk avenue. it's just a real triumphant moment for the city, although we know now that even though the city took back that land in 1987, which is years after this, they still haven't developed it all these years later. it's decades later that the city is still kind of coming to that point of taking back that land. so we'll see what happens there. but you can see the growth of the city, the growth of the way rather that st. elizabeths itself grew over time kind of haphazardly caused a lot of issues with the way the infrastructure is there now, so
10:52 pm
they're doing all of these infrastructure plans. of course, at the building museum we're interested in what's happening underground and how the water and the electricity are moving through the site, so that is kind of what we are looking at here. they are going to build a new water tower on the site and they're building all-new pipes water --ort systems, all sorts of ssent -- systems, plumbing systems, water systems, electrical systems, telephone. all of those systems are just being ripped out and redone. you can see how corroded the old water pipe was. that's certainly been a hazard in terms of a roadblock, is what i am looking for, in terms of how the city has moved along with its development plans, because the infrastructure needed so much work. but now that seems to be happening, so, hopefully, we will see that development in a couple of years. i would like to point out these pictures. at the building museum, we have a program called "investigating where we live" where teenagers from washington, d.c., take
10:53 pm
their cameras and go out to a different neighborhood every summer and learn about their city, and last summer, many of the teenagers walked around congress heights, the neighborhood around saint elizabeth's, and then walked around st. elizabeth and took these pictures for us to use in this exhibition. it's the first time that we've used some of those student photographs. i think that's an interesting way for the teenagers who live in d.c. to really understand the role of saint elizabeth's in their own city. it's been walled off for so long, and, certainly, people have jumped the fence and got inside, but in terms of really being part of the fabric of the urban fabric of the city, it has not been until now. we think that's why we're really at that cusp of a change that's happening now. and you can see behind me over here, some of these renderings. this idea that there's new things happening in st. elizabeths east and some new excitement. this is a rendering of the entertainment venue that will be built there and some renderings
10:54 pm
of what maybe the apartments will look like as they're transforming what were patient buildings into housing for d.c. residents, so you can really see the story of st. elizabeths keeps going. we don't know what will happen next, but that's how we wanted to end the story is looking towards the future and really seeing how the city will use that space for new uses. i think that it's important for people to understand those two threads of history that i talked about. one is how we should, how we have, and how we should care for the mentally ill and really think about what the role of the government should be in building that infrastructure for the mentally ill, whether how we think about it in community mental health centers or whatever we call them next. what does that look like architecturally? what does that look like on our landscape? and how are we going to care for these people? this idea that there was
10:55 pm
something all wrong with the way that dix and others thought about custodial health care. maybe that is true. maybe that was wrong, ok, well, than what comes next? and i think it's important we think about that and having that understanding of what happens before in history can help us think about what will happen next. also, i think for d.c. residents, i think it is interesting, especially for d.c. residents, but certainly for all of our visitors, as well, to come in and learn about land use and who makes those decisions. this is land that's been walled off from the rest of the city for a century and a half and who makes the decisions about happens there next, and one thing i am interested in is having community participation in all the decisions, wherever you live, whatever is happening in your neighborhood. there is something. they are building something. developers are coming. they are building something, tearing something down, and it's important to understand and be part of that conversation, so i think an exhibition like this can help people think about
10:56 pm
maybe what's happening in their own communities, and certainly for residents of congress heights, it's happening right there in their neighborhood. that's pretty important for them to know that history, what happened there before, so they can understand what should happen to the land now. most of these hospitals have been around since the mid-19th century, and the ones that are still there, more than 30 of them that are still there, do have that history. most of them also had a big campus with a farm. they don't have that federal military connection that st. elizabeths does, but they certainly have a connection to the people in their state, and certainly, almost every day when i bring people through the show, somebody has a connection to a relative or somebody they know who either worked or lived at one of these hospitals. i think it's a really significant part of our national story, so i think most of these hospitals, if you dig a little, will have so many compelling
10:57 pm
stories. yeah. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> each week, american history tv rings you archival films that provide context for today's issues. >> in new york city a housing demolition project is underway which will improve the living conditions of families of moderate means. in many other cities in the country, tenements and fire trucks are being torn down to make way for modern buildings containing comfortable, sanitary apartments. at colonial park in harlem, as in many other congested areas, workers have constructed a huge swimming pool and are completing a bathhouse that will accommodate 4100 persons. in this project, skilled workers are employed, utilizing the knowledge of their trades gained in the days before depression.
10:58 pm
♪ swimming pools are particularly valuable to the community because they offer a haven of relaxation to young and old during the hot summer months. ♪ at the same time, swimming pools remove children from the crowded city streets, providing every safeguard to prevent such tragedies as were all too common to the old swimming pools. typical of the park improvement projects underway all over the country is another feature of the improvement program at pool in park, a wading which youngsters may splash to their hearts content. playgroundns to the have been made possible by the improvement of parts of the park which were formerly decorative. even young children find
10:59 pm
opportunities for play under watchful supervision. ♪ in many parts of the country, nursery schools have been established where almost 10,000 children of needy families are provided with hot meals, supervised play activities and excellent preschool training under confident instructors. in these projects, employment has been provided for 600 teachers, nurses, dietitians and cooks. >> you can watch archival films in our weekly series, real america, saturday at 10:00 p.m. and sunday at 4:00 a.m. eastern. here on american history tv. >> author tera hunter speaks with the co-editors of the journal of the civil war era about the significance of juneteenth and her book, "bound in wedlock: slave and free black marriage in the nineteenth century." ms. hunter explains the difference between the emancipation proclamation and juneteenth, as well as how freed people navigated family ties and relationships after the war. the journal of the civil war era divided the video.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on