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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Robert
Guest
Robert

We used to go by the hospital now and then , at a distance and usually at night. My brother and I called it the crazy house. We would just look at it – lights in the distance – to me very scary. That was over 50 years ago._Just a couple of years ago I was going through Vinita and saw the hospital. I had to go by. What a chilling_sight. It looked as though everyone just left one day. Half drawn torn blinds in the windows. My thoughts were about what things went on in those rooms and the… Read more »

Dr, Anonymous
Guest
Dr, Anonymous

If you only had a tiny bit of truth about what happened to young females there in the blocked off areas! Thy things that nightmares are made of! Them tunnels weren't used for moving files and furniture! Oh that was hell for some people! There are under ground unmarked graves! There is so much that has never been uncovered under that unholy place! There is a reason so many people run into dead ends! Many identities were stolen from that place to make new whiteness protection programs! There is so much that could be learned from there!

dr, Anonymous
Guest
dr, Anonymous

There is much more to learn in them tunnels!

kjf61
Guest
kjf61

First of all, God bless all of us who visit this site. It makes my heart so heavy… I visited my brother there in the 90's and it seemed to be a good place. (He even met his wife there) Oh no that couldn't be the end of it. My genealogy research has brought me back to this institution not once, twice but THREE times. Like I said, God bless us all and not let us take our lives for granted.

ShadyJ`
Guest
ShadyJ`

My brother was also there in the 90's and I also thought it appeared to be a nicely run place. I wish there was a compromise between the rights of the patient and the administering of obviously needed treatment.
I haven't seen my brother in almost 4 years due to his violent outbursts when off of his medications and I will not be around him due to safety concerns.

P amela Collins
Guest
P amela Collins

I had the opportunity to drive around this hospital about a month ago. The place is awesome, it even has it’s own cemetery. I plan on going back in the near future to park my car get out and walk around the place. Nothing like a taste of real history.

Pam Collins

pam
Guest
pam

you cant walk around on grounds, its closed to public

Patricia Salkeld
Guest
Patricia Salkeld

I am excited also to find this site. For me it is sad because of the loss of treatment for many who now roam the street with no home and no 'family' to care. I am the granddaughter of Dr. Felix Adams and I know your great grand parents well. They were our closest neighbors along Dr. Row. I spent summers with my grandparents beginning when I was 7 or 8 until 13 when my Dado passed. My cousin Sally and my brother Joe were also there and we had a grand time roaming all over the beautiful grounds. I… Read more »

Patricia Salkeld
Guest
Patricia Salkeld

Thanks for mentioning the life work of my grandfather, Dr. Felix Adams. He was devoted to his patients and knew many by name. I spent summers living there until I was 13, so I knew Sam Seabolt well. My cousin, brother, and I would attend and participate in the Wednesday night square dancing complete with a live band. We would go to the Thursday night movies and stand and greet, along with our grandfather, the patients as the left the rec center and returned to their dormitories. My brother played softball with the patients and one summer we had a… Read more »

Waunette Ouzts
Guest
Waunette Ouzts

My grandfather John Alcorn was a patient here from about 1939 to about 1957 when he died. i would like to get some information about him. He had been convicted of manslaughter and spent four years at McAlister prison. And when he was out of prison he seemed to "lose his mind" as they called it in those days. I feel that he was innocent of the manslaughter charges. And think that really affected him. Did he have shock treatments? Or what did they do to him while he was in Eastern state hospital? How can I get hold of… Read more »

Teddie Rudisell.
Guest
Teddie Rudisell.

I'm trying to find out anything about Bonnie Rudisell who was a patient in the 50 and 60. She was released and committed suicide shortly after being released. I need to know what her prognosis was. I am her daughter. Thanks

searcher
Guest
searcher

Alcorn v State 1934 OK CR 106 35 P.2d 735 56 Okl.Cr. 156
sorry it is the best i could l do https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&…

Donna Smith
Guest
Donna Smith

Oh wow, how do you find that kind of info? I haven't been able to find anything on my father. Ernest Lee Smith. He murdered his brother James and spent time in Mcalister then went to Vinita State and died there in Nov. 1998.

Jennifer Blevins
Guest
Jennifer Blevins

ESH provided my family a living for 30 years. My dad was a psychiatrist there from 1963-1980 when he retired. Dad had real compassion for his patients and worked very hard at trying to get them well with medication and therapy. These were the stories I heard at the dinner table growing up. I also worked at ESH in the Finance Office from 1978-1992. There are a lot of mentally ill people in this world, many who do not have resources to effectively treat their disorder. ESH was their port in the storm. I agree with you that emptying the… Read more »

Danny Williams
Guest
Danny Williams

Nicely written.

Vesnelle Rorris
Guest
Vesnelle Rorris

I am looking for information about an employee, Jesse Clyde Sapp, who was an attendant in the 50s. He died while employed there. Would appreciate any information anyone can give me.

Dustin
Guest
Dustin

Why did they close these hospitals in the nation?

MichaelG
Guest
MichaelG

As I remember, when Ronald Regan took over as president he pulled funding for the hospitals and as a result they were all forced to close.

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

It is wrecked with asbestos, of course it's abandoned.

misti
Guest
misti

When i was a little girl i actually sung to the patients for christmas on a big stage in the gym my mom also worked while going to RN school

Sherry
Guest
Sherry

Has anyone found a way to get a patient's records? I'm requesting info about my great aunt Nora Gertrude Winey who started life as a very bright individual but then ended up living there most of her life there. Thanks.

Former R.N Bldg 9
Guest
Former R.N Bldg 9

Contact Central State Hospital in Norman Oklahoma. I heard the records were moved to storage there. You might also contact the Oklahoma Dept of Mental Health and they can direct you to specific previous patients records. You'll have to prove a relationship to the person or they won't release the information.

D from Oklahoma
Guest
D from Oklahoma

As a child I visited my Uncle who was incarcerated there in the 60-70's for a murder. He shot a man he thought was laughing at him. Found mentally incompetent. He was there for at least 15 years. I'll never forget those visits with Mom to see her brother-my uncle. When the state stopped funding, he was eventually released. He, of course, stopped all medications after time and went back into his paranoid shell. I believe he is still alive, living in a Chicago nursing home, collecting social security benefits perhaps? Family lost contact as he lost touch with reality… Read more »

Donna Smith
Guest
Donna Smith

I am also a D from Oklahoma and my father was sent here for murdering his brother and in all honesty it was the second brother he shot and killed that put him there. If they had done something the first time he couldn't have shot the second brother. His name is Ernest Lee Smith and he shot Leon first and then James for bugging him about shooting Leon 2.5 years later. Look him up on Geni and you'll see what was said about him although the story of how Leon was shot is all wrong. My father died at… Read more »

anita sanders
Guest
anita sanders

Are there any of the buildings still operational today?

June
Guest
June

My son is at the correctional center, he hears patients yelling from the facility, someones in there.

Jen
Guest
Jen

My son was at the correctional facility also and while visiting him on numerous occasions I thought I heard things. We would sit outside and visit and I heard people, seen blinds move and several times showed my son a ball bouncing across the grounds! Lol, he told me to quit looking over there and I saw nothing

Paul
Guest
Paul

The NGRI (Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity) ward is still operational on last report.

PsychNurse
Guest
PsychNurse

The NGRI population is housed in the new facility, Oklahoma Forensic Center. None of the buildings are occupied on the old ESH grounds. I have worked at ESH/OFC for over 19 years and still am presently employed there. There are other patients there also, it's not just strictly all NGRI patient's. As for the previously mentioned tunnels in other posts, there are numerous of those across the old ESH grounds, many flood when it rains and some have been blocked off.

Jen
Guest
Jen

When you ask someone they say that the whole place is shut down. I knew I seen and heard people over there

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

I recently found out that my great aunt lived there around 1920 until she pasted away, we don't have much information about her or why she was there. Does anyone know how I can find out more about her stay at Eastern State Hospital?

Heather
Guest
Heather

The Employee's Council of the Oklahoma Forensic Center will be hosting a haunted hayride this October 2012 on these old Eastern State grounds. Admission will be $5 per person, children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. There will be no access to any of the buildings, but the hayride will go through the old grounds. This will be held on Friday, October 26, and Saturday, October 27, from 8:00 pm – Midnigh. Come to our facebook events page and see the flier for more details.

Angela
Guest
Angela

I worked there when it was eastern state and Oklahoma forensic center. Oklahoma Forensic Center is the new building that is next to Eastern State and yes it is abdomen. There's alot of history there and it is haunted. People have died there so of course its haunted to the patients that thought of it was there home and had no where else to go because some of their families left left them there and just forgot about them or they didn't have a family at all except for the employees. Its sad really for the lost soles that will… Read more »

Schweitzer
Guest
Schweitzer

I would like to go and explore the grounds sometime. All sounds very interesting and wanted to maybe document all the peoples sightings or expirencing things of the paranormal:) My father is an officer working at the prison down the road. Anything I should look for imperticularly paranormal?

R Clipper
Guest
R Clipper

My Great-Grandfather was a patient at the hospital in 1930. The story goes he was struck by lighting in the fields while working. They placed him there and remained their until he died. The Family never spoke of it to my Grandparents because of the stigma associated with being a patient at this hospital for the insane. Because of that and history dying with relatives as they die, the only information I can find on him is very limited. Such a shame things were so hush hush back then.

afisher
Guest
afisher

I just found out my Great-Grandfather was a patient at this hospital sometime around 1940. At that time they called them "inmates". I never knew he was there. My family said he had gone to a hospital because of black lung. I believe it was all hush, hush, too because of the stigma of having a mentally ill patient. So said. Now I'll never know what was wrong with him or how long he was there.

Dalene
Guest
Dalene

Was his name L.G. Clipper?

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