Eastern State Hospital

203
City/Town: Vinita
Location Class: Hospital
Year Built: 1912
Year Abandoned: 1990's
Status: AbandonedNational Register of Historic Places
Photojournalist: David LindeJohnny Fletcher

History:
“Eastern State Hospital has been a major factor in the economy of Craig County since 1913, and its influence in mental health matters has extended well beyond its service area. When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, the mentally ill first were cared for through contract with private sanitariums. In Indian Territory, Cherokee Nation had maintained an asylum at Park Hill.

Eastern Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane was established by the Oklahoma State Legislature in 1909, to be located at Vinita, Craig County; on a 160 acre tract of land given to the State by the City of Vinita for this purpose. The land on which the hospital was established originally was owned by S.S. Cobb.

An appropriation was made to erect buildings, which were completed late in 1912. Dr. F.M. Adams was appointed August 12, 1912, by Governor Lee Croce as the hospital superintendent. His original four-year appointment stretched into a lifetime job. Dr. Adams served until his death in December 1955.

The first patients were received on January 28, 1913, when 300 people were transferred by special train from the Oklahoma Sanatorium at Norman. The special train was unloaded at a siding designated “Asylum Spur,” a little more than a mile south of the hospital. Wagons were sent to carry the women and a few older men, and the others walked to the new hospital.

During 1914 Building No. 3 was completed, and immediately 300 more patients were moved here from Norman. By 1954, the institution had a capacity of 2,600 patients and a capital investment of $6,541,050.

The hospital opened with two doctors, Dr. Adams and Dr. Edwin Williams, a physician from Philadelphia who had some experience with the mentally ill. He returned to the east about two years later, and Dr. P.I. Hays became assistant superintendent. Dr. Hays remained on the staff, succeeding Dr. Adams as superintendent and serving until October 1961. Both doctors were widely recognized for pioneering efforts in treatment of the mentally ill. The gradual expansion over the years, to the peak population of the mid-1950’s, saw buildings steadily added, and more land acquired.

Facilities which were added included hospital wards for male and female patient, 1916; administration building, 1922; barn, implement sheds, greenhouse, new power house equipment in 1924; a fire station and sewage plant, 19,30; a canning plant in 1938; central dining room, kitchen, a maximum restraint building for men, 1939; administration building, 1949; an employees’ dormitory in 1953, named Adams Hall in honor of the long-time superintendent.

After Adams Hall was completed, a two-story house known as the “Farm House” was torn down. The house had been the home of Mr. and Mrs. S. S. Cobb before the hospital was established. For many years, most of the hospital employees were required to live on the grounds. Meals were provided as part of the salary. Some roomed in basements of ward buildings and others lived in two old barracks buildings, according to long-time employees. These buildings were moved in after World War Two.

During the years of peak patient population, the farm was an important economic factor. Swine, poultry, and dairy operations provided meat and milk, while garden produce was used fresh and also was canned for later use. Many farm-oriented patients worked alongside employees, and this provided valuable therapy.

The hospital’s Holstein dairy herd was considered one of the best in the state, with some of the cattle setting production records and winning prizes at state fairs. The dairy was closed in 1968. Other farming operations were gradually phased out in the early 1970’s. Through the first 40 years of the hospital’s history, much of the patient care was custodial in nature. Staff was limited, but treatments, which were innovative at the time, were introduced.

Dr. Hays pioneered in many types of treatment, including luminal, sodium amy-tal, and various types of shock treatment. He was among the first to use malaria in treatment of syphilis. He was the first in the nation to use atropine sulphate as a treatment for Parkinsonian syndrome. In 1956, the ESH staff under Dr. Hays’ direction took part in a research program to test the tranquilizing drugs Thorazine and serpasil.

Dr. Adams became recognized as one of the nation’s foremost hospital administrators. Even with limited funds and staff, he pioneered in new types of treatment and psychotherapy. For his service in the field of mental illness, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in November 1954.

In 1947, the Hospital was renamed Eastern State. From that time forward, the state saw increased awareness of the needs of the mentally ill and increased funding which made possible more intensive, specialized treatment.

The dining room burned in 1951; a new central kitchen with men and women’s dining rooms was built about five years later. Dr. W.C. Reed, Vinita dentist who had served the hospital part-time for 20 years, closed his private practice and became full-time dentist at ESH.

In 1951, Sam Seabolt became director of the Recreation Department. He remained on the staff 33 years, serving as Director of Activity Services, comprising occupational, recreational, music, work therapies, and volunteer services. Until 1983 he also supervised the chaplain and adult education services. A new medical service building was opened in 1952; in 1960 the building was named Hays Treatment Center in honor of Dr. P.L. Hays.

During the 1950’s, the Rev. Moody Nicholson, who had been pastor of Vinita’s Pilgrim Presbyterian Church, became full-time chaplain at the hospital. Later, an All Faiths Chapel was provided. Dr. A.D. Barrett is head chaplain.

In 1956 the first Department of Nursing was established, with Dorothy Hall, RN, a professional nurse administrator, as director.

When she took the post, ESH had six professional nurses and nearly 400 non-professional workers in psychiatric nursing, responsible for 72 ward units. By contrast, at the end of February 1984, the nursing department had 460 employees of whom 64 were Registered Nurses and 58 Licensed Practical Nurses. In 1984 the hospital was operating 18 ward units with a daily census of less than 400. Although more than 3,500 admissions were recorded in 1983, average length of stay was 39.6 days.

Volunteers have played a vital role in the hospital. Red Cross volunteers from Miami, Vinita, Claremore, Nowata devoted much time to work with patients. The Bartlesville Gray Ladies, who began weekly trips to ESH in 1955 and Gray Men, continue to serve, as have some Vinitans.

After the resignation of Dr. Hays, Dr. Wayne J. Boyd was superintendent until 1963. He was succeeded by Dr. Ruth V. Annadown, 1963-64. Dr. B.F. Peterson then came from Tennessee in July 1964 and headed the hospital until his death in 1972. Dr. A. Lawrence White served 1972-73; Dr. D.W. Shupe 1973-74; Dr. Joe Tyler 1974-78. Dr. Robert O’Toole became superintendent from October 1979 until February 1983, then Dr. Mason W. Robison assumed administrative duties.

In 1964, state mental hospitals were desegregated and patients at Taft were moved to the state hospitals in Vinita and Norman. In 1971 the first floor of Adams Hall was remodeled for administrative offices.

A dining room was located in the east wing of the Food Services Building. The changes in Food Service were especially evident. Dr. Peterson had believed that food was a factor in therapy. When men and women started having meals together, a noticeable improvement in personal appearance took place.

Outpatient services were begun in the 1960’s to provide aftercare for discharged patients.

As the patient population declined, patients needing surgery have been transported elsewhere for care. The Medical Services do include a medical clinic, laboratory, X-ray, dental clinic, and pharmacy. During Dr. O’Toole’s administration, ESH was designated as the treatment center for all inmates of the Department of Corrections requiring mental health services, and the hospital also handles all Oklahoma court-ordered observation-evaluation. Building 12 was completely renovated as a maximum security facility in 1983.

In 2006 a new facility was opened to replace the original buildings.”                                                      -Ref. asylumprojects.org

Since 2003, Oklahoma Department of Corrections facility has occupied part of state hospital’s land.




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Brandy McComb
Guest
Brandy McComb

I spent a few years at this facility. I believe the place had its good andbad. What the staff did form me savedmy life. Yet Avery scary experience. I was in prison therefor arson and burglary. Still seeking answers today. Pretty scary. Had dances played basketball read books at library. Would like to discuss in detail my experiences there. Made American history. Not a bad person or evencrazy. Gifted in law enforcement t. Just found that out recently during my exploration into past. Finelinebetween genius and madness. Honestly I miss the place.

Angel
Guest
Angel

Hi. My name is Angel.
I would like to discuss your experience there.
Please contact me at mlcoleman58@yahoo.com.
I hope to talk to you.
Thank you,

Joshua Boggs
Guest
Joshua Boggs

I have done a lot of research on this hospital and I have done many interviews with the night guards that watch over it at night. They have seen full body spirits and have heard different disembodied voices being heard. On one of my investigations there was full of different things happening around me and my group. Like seeing full body apparitions walking through the fire escape doors and the doors opening and slamming on their own. Not to mention these doors are hard to open and close in the first place.

Angel
Guest
Angel

Hi. My name is Angel.
I would like to discuss your experience there.
Please contact me at mlcoleman58@yahoo.com.
I hope to talk to you.
Thank you,

suzy
Guest
suzy

My grandmother was committed in1926 to Eastern State Hospital in Vinita. She had a lobotomy at this hospital, and was never able to return home. She entered the hospital in her middle twenties, left in her sixty or seventies to go to a local nursing home. Died in a local hospital in Vinita at the age of eighty-six.

Audrey
Guest
Audrey

By the way, folks! Anybody ever been in prison to visit a loved one? Talk about paranormal activity! Or is that just plain old fashioned evil spirits? Can hardly wait to get out of there.

Audrey Auernheimer
Guest
Audrey Auernheimer

I like the pics of the old buildings. But I am an objective observer. Never been there. My son, 28 years old, took his life in the Arkansas State hospital on the Forensics (criminal) unit. My daughter, 26, took her life in her apartment in Fayetteville, Arkansas. My youngest son is suffering from diagnosed Bi-Polar. He is also a "criminal" who is getting zero treatment for auditory & visual hallucinations. Hm-m-m-m-m….Untreated in prison, or possible treatment at the "bad" old mental hospital………..Guess my choice is easy. My Mom also had shock treatments in the 70's for major depression. She was… Read more »

J D
Guest
J D

My gg grandfather died here in 1932, he was Cherokee. I never knew anything about the place. It's very interesting to look at the photos.

Joshua Baker
Guest
Joshua Baker

Hello my name is Joshua Baker and I am the founder of Quest Paranormal Investigations of Tulsa. My team and I are looking to film a documentary at the Eastern State Hospital and we need your help. We've recently been in contact with the County Commissioner and the Mayor of Oklahoma and with your help we can compile a list of e-mails saying that you a resident of Vinita believes that the building is haunted or you worked there and you know it's haunted. We need a statement telling us your story on why you believe the building is haunted… Read more »

Shane Brown
Guest
Shane Brown

Hello, My name is Shane Weston Brown. I was taken to a facility in Sulphur, Ok. after being told that I was a missing person when I asked two highway patrolman for directions. They took me to a local hospital first, but said I wasn't under arrest. I told them that I didn't want to go. But they said I couldn't go and that they insisted. I said, That sounds like an arrest and that I'm a Christian and this shouldn't happen. I was so upset that I started talking to God and looking up. Which looked like I was… Read more »

Shane Brown
Guest
Shane Brown

So I finally let them put shackles on me. And that included my hands and feet. They threw me in a room by myself and explained nothing while they did it. I tried to leave the room only to find a dead end and then one of the men who I'd wrestled with to drag me back in. And then they strapped me to a gurney, strapping my feet first. Then my hands. But I'm a very strong guy with double jointed hands. And I kept pulling my hands out of the straps again and again. The biggest man who… Read more »

Shane Brown
Guest
Shane Brown

Btw, since my last name is Brown and I claimed very good athletic ability. I am a WHITE man. I'm not black. So this was not racial prejudice. This started cuz I got lost. And I'm pretty confident that I'm not the first guy to get lost in that area. Cuz I knew the highway I needed to finally get home. And I knew I needed to go south. But either direction I went, the signs would say NORTH. And I repeated the process about 20 times before I finally had to admit that I just couldn't figure it out.… Read more »

Paul
Guest
Paul

Just because ESH treated people with a mental illness does not mean it is haunted. People for years have related mental illness with demonology but the two are very different creatures.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I had a great grandmother that was admitted after the turn of the 20th century. The story goes that she tried to throw my grandmother into the lighted fireplace not long after her birth. She was probably suffering from postpartum psychosis which was unheard of then. Needless to say, the family never heard from her again. Folks were treated very differently in those days and were kept out of the public eye. Horrible research was conducted on innocent people then and yes, Paul, many died and their lost souls probably do still linger there.

shana
Guest
shana

my great grandfather john bailey snodderly worked in the farm section back in the day. As a person from vinita I can say that alot of things have happened around the area.. a cousin and his compainions had a wreak at the front gate of esh. to this day no one knows why. some have seen lights in the old buildings and sightings of people walking the area only to discover that neither was possible.

Donna K
Guest
Donna K

If your post is old…overlook my e=mail. I worked across the street Rose Rock Recovery…was 3rd shift employee responsible for the 20 clients …I was working alone…sometimes 2 of us…my front door alarm went off and I dialed for an officer to come out and investigate why alarm went off. I could not leave my station for the view of both hallways watching the client. An officer came out and went through our building and around the grounds. Afterwards he told me his officers would not go across to Eastern State because they believed it haunted. One story was heavy… Read more »

ashley
Guest
ashley

it is NOT abandond. in 2007 i went there when i was a juvinile, craig county detetion center is the building on one of the pictures i would label but there is so many.( the officers said it was the old morgue) there is a PRISON DOWN THE STREET, not here!!!! to do the laundry for the patients down the street, they still have patients there. they get to go outside a siren goes off and they send people out some had straight jackets on, this place is still in business and no one is going there for paranormal activities.… Read more »

Quannah
Guest
Quannah

I worked at the hospital from 95 to 99. Major cloud of oppression looming in the buildings, would get creeped out going to the basement to make copies at night but never experienced anything paranormal. One would think the place would have to be haunted though as many deaths that occured there. Two employee suicides in the four years i worked. Loved the patients but depressing atmosphere.

Donna Smith
Guest
Donna Smith

His name was Ernest Lee Smith

Steph
Guest
Steph

Is this place even haunted? and are you able to get in there?

sarah
Guest
sarah

No you cannot get up there anymore. They have the gates shut

Crissy Walton
Guest
Crissy Walton

It wasn't abandoned in the 1990's… We moved here in 2003 and helped deliver papers to Adam's Hall, Some to the kitchen, (weren't allowed in the ward's) juvenile hall and the DOC section…

Guest
Guest
Guest

No pictures of the cemetery when patients died and were unclaimed, they were buried there. The cemetery is not on the grounds, but up the road not far away. There was also a hospital farm there, It closed it the late 60's. My father was doctor there and yes in the 60's and early 70's they did shock treatment. Then medication made further advances and it was the primary treatment. Shock treatment was hardly every used afterwards. Can't believe how they let this place go.

guest
Guest
guest

my mother was there in the 60's to help with her drinking and they used shock treatment on her

guest1
Guest
guest1

Actually, ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) is still widely used and more effective than many medications with less side effects. You can find it in Laureate in Tulsa, among many other places all over the nation and the world. It is evidence-based practice when medication is not effective.

shana
Guest
shana

could you be talking about fairview cemetery

Kelly Jennings
Guest
Kelly Jennings

My grandfather, Jim Mann, did maintenance in these buildings for years… I doubt they can use them for anything because they are probably full of asbestos. My grandmother, Donna Mann, started the shoe store there and worked in patient's property for years. I remember getting off the bus there and see all the personal items that came in with the patients. I doubt they ever received much of it back.

Chuck
Guest
Chuck

I worked there in the mid 70's & never heard of any paranormal activities…I worked ten building which was maximum security…..It is a very sad place & there were rumors of abuses both physical & sexual nature by workers….I do know that patients in the early days were brought in via train & made to carry supplies on their way up to the hospital..There used to be a sign by the tracks that said Asylum Switch which I was told is now in the Museum in Vinita…I was also told that somewhere on the grounds is a mass grave where… Read more »

Guest
Guest
Guest

Never heard of the mass grave, but I would not have doubted it. There is a cemetery further off the grounds. When unclaimed patients died, they were buried there
.

RICHARD
Guest
RICHARD

CHUCK

I HAD A BROTHER WHO WAS THERE HIS NAME WAS JIMMY JOE KING. PLEASE REPLY IF YOU REMEMBER HIM. THERE IS SOME QUESTION I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU
THANKS
RICHARD

Lisa Price
Guest
Lisa Price

my mother was there about the time you worked there. Her name was Shirley Ann Burge.. Please contact me at
ldpriced@yahoo.ca.. I have been trying to locate what happened to her. If she passed away. I visited her there once in 1987. My brother and I did not know her whereabouts since we last saw her when I was about 5. I was 21 when we saw her in 1987. I lost contact after she supposedly was moved to a half way house. Any help would be appreciated.. This has bothered me for so so long.. thanks, Lisa Price..

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

Does anyone know if the buildings and grounds can be toured? Those buildings look really cool and probably pretty scary too. Does anyone know what plans are for the future? It would be nice if they salvaged all of the millions of bricks it took to build those buildings.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Would the DOC officers let me walk some of the grounds (Those not currently being used or in direct vicinity of the DOC) and maybe take some pictures? or is it strictly off-limits without higher permission (I.e. Connections).

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

Does anyone give tours of the old hospital? I think that would be very interesting.

Shelley
Guest
Shelley

Actually, myself and a friend visited the site TODAY. We were both patients there at different times when we were teenagers and wanted to see the place with our grown-up, sane eyes. We parked in the DOC parking lot and freely wandered around the entire ESH campus-looking in windows, taking pictures, and even climbing up a few stairways. We spent a good couple of hours there and no one ever even looked our way from DOC. It was an amazing and beautiful experience for us.

Guest
Guest
Guest

I would just like to add to the history that there was no mention about when the stated decided it would be best for the place to go co-ed. I know in 1983, (or about that time), that they house both the men and the women on the same wards. At least they did on the long term ward. My nursing school arranged for us to do our psychiatric rotation at Eastern State. Needless to say this was not the best idea anyone had come up with. Not only that but they did have bars that locked, just like prison,… Read more »

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

How can I go about finding medical records from here. It's very important that I find out.

Charlene Mills
Guest
Charlene Mills

Please let me know if you find out anything. My uncle was there. Died in 1939. James Hardiman. I have no idea if he was buried there or where.

barbgma
Guest
barbgma

go to the website…..find a grave……I found the grave of a family member in the hospital cemetery

jsc
Guest
jsc

My grandfather was a VA doctor here in the mid '70s, and he and my grandmother lived in the first house on the left on picture mini-img_5148. I remember Christmas and snow and big family gatherings over a few years of my childhood, but had no idea Eastern State was a mental hospital until just recently. This place has a real 'Session 9' feel to it now, at least the abandoned parts.

Leah Scott
Guest
Leah Scott

I am trying to find some info for my family about my Great Grandmother who was basically a mystery. The 1930 and 1920 US census reports her a patient in this hospital aka (Eastern Oklahoma Hosp.) Does anyone now of any records or charts from that time frame? It was Ward 7 at the time. Please contact me at dleah.scott@yahoo.com

Joshya
Guest
Joshya

I used to know all the websites for the hospital. The best thing you can really do is call the new hospital and ask about them having any records from the time period.

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