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Cape Central High Photos

Ken Steinhoff, Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1965, was a photographer for The Tiger and The Girardot, and was on the staff of The Capaha Arrow and The Sagamore at Southeast Missouri State University. He worked as a photographer / reporter (among other things) at The Jackson Pioneer and The Southeast Missourian.

Come here to see photos and read stories (mostly true) about coming of age in Southeast Missouri in the 1960s.

Please comment on the articles when you see I have left out a bit of history, forgotten a name or when your memory of a circumstance conflicts with mine. (My mother says her stories have improved now that more and more of the folks who could contradict her have died off.) Your information helps to make this a wonderful archive and may end up in book form.


Anna’s Choate State Hospital

Anna Choate State Hospital 11-18-2015The state mental institution in Athens, Ohio, built in 1868, is an example of the Kirkbride building style that was popular in the late middle 1800s for mental hospitals, so Curator Jessica was excited to hear that a similar building – Anna’s Choate State Hospital – was of similar age and architecture. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

Almost palatial looking

Anna Choate State Hospital 11-18-2015A website documenting Kirkbride buildings (worth a look) said they were “once state-of-the-art mental healthcare facilities. Kirkbride buildings have long been relics of an obsolete therapeutic method known as Moral Treatment. In the latter half of the 19th century, these massive structures were conceived as ideal sanctuaries for the mentally ill and as an active participant in their recovery. Careful attention was given to every detail of their design to promote a healthy environment and convey a sense of respectable decorum. Placed in secluded areas within expansive grounds, many of these insane asylums seemed almost palace-like from the outside. But growing populations and insufficient funding led to unfortunate conditions, spoiling their idealistic promise.”

Plagued by fires

Anna Choate State Hospital 11-18-2015It’s hard to tell how many times the institution was plagued by fires. One account said the north wing caught fire from unknown causes in 1881, destroying it and killing one patient. In more recent history, the top two floors of the main administration building caught fire and were removed.

Patients are encouraged to work on crafts and projects. Some are on sale in the admin building. THIS patient carved the  Great Speckled Bird in the 1960s.

Made some staffers uncomfortable

Anna Choate State Hospital 11-18-2015The patient, who died in the early 1970s, labeled the piece with many biblical references and the names of staff members he didn’t like, making them somewhat uncomfortable.

“Crib bed”

Anna Choate State Hospital 11-18-2015The “crib bed” was used for patients who needed to be restrained for their own safety or the safety of others. We were told it was rarely used. To my claustrophobic eyes, it looks like a coffin with slats. If I wasn’t mentally disturbed going into the bed, I would be when I was released.

Despite things like this, the hospital got good reviews. An 1893 report on Charitable Institutions of the State of Illinois said “the general appearance of this Hospital is not so neat, and the discipline is not so strict, as in the other State hospitals, but the medical results, in the way of recoveries, have been superior.”

20 percent of patients died

Anna Choate State Hospital 11-18-2015The 1893 report said that the rate of recoveries to total discharges has been 36%; improved, 22%; unimproved, 22%; deaths, 20%. The average per capita maintenance cost in 1892 was $166.63. The average number of inmates in that year was 802 (although the number was probably smaller because of re-admissions and transfers).

Many of the dead before 1939 are buried in unmarked graves in this hilltop cemetery near the hospital.

Newer graves are marked

Anna Choate State Hospital 11-18-2015Some newer graves are marked with simple concrete stones. We were surprised to see no flags are any other indication that an individual had served in the military, unlike the Athens cemetery, where the graves are decorated.

Choate Cemetery at sunset

Anna Choate State Hospital 11-18-2015The sun was starting to dip below the horizon as we were leaving the graveyard.

Anna State Hospital administration building

Anna Choate State Hospital 11-18-2015We had a chance to take one last look at the admin building. The American flag is flying at half-mast because of the killings in Paris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments to Anna’s Choate State Hospital

  • john campbell

    Another impressive structure is the prison at Eddyville KY. The Kentucky State Penitentiary sits along the shoreline of Lake Barkley. Also known as “The Castle on The Cumberland”, this is Kentucky’s only maximum-security prison. The main building was completed in 1888.

  • Phyllis Hansen

    Do they have underground tunnels like MO State Hospital in Fulton? Those tunnels also have iron “loops” sticking out of walls were patients were attached. I worked there in 1970-71 and while the heated tunnels were warmer to get from building to building that very cold winter, I preferred to steer clear of them!! Talk about a creepy place. The above ground was nice enough, but nothing to brag about. Patients were well cared for and received good treatment unlike in those years of yore.

    • fatbarber

      Yes there are tunnels extending nearly 1 mile under ground. I met a lady who’s mom worked there in the 40s 50s she said it was horrific. The famed psychologist B.F. Skinner had sex with countless patients, and even burnt up the top 2 floors of the old hospital.. oops…. dirty little secrets on one the nation’s most renowned drs.

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