In 1890, Dr. Henry Dawson Allen, Sr., bought the old Oglethorpe University property in the Midway community and in 1891 opened a private hospital for chronic incurable cases, likely as an alternative to the less personal care offered at the nearby State Lunatic Asylum.
Allen’s Invalid Home for the Treatment of Nervous Diseases was among the first private psychiatric institutions in the Southeastern United States. Dr. Allen was very progressive and bought up as much of the surrounding land, on which were grown a great variety of vegetables and stock for the use of the institution. Patients weren’t required to work but could if they chose to. Dr. Allen’s sons, Dr. H. D. Allen, Jr., and Dr. Edwin Whitaker Allen, Sr., eventually practiced alongside their father.
Abandoned Interiors of Allen’s Invalid Home
Please note that this is private property. I had permission to photograph. If you wish to photograph you may wish to make a donation to the Maranatha Mission, which oversees the property.
The cornerstone of the hospital is dated 1949 but I understand it wasn’t completed and occupied until 1950. It was sponsored by the Richland Lions Club and Dr. J. T. Phillips was the hospital authority chairman. This is just one of numerous rural hospitals that have closed in recent years, leaving many without accessible major medical care. The politics around the issue go back and forth, but when your county loses a hospital, that’s irrelevant. This particular hospital served two counties.
A group of local women established the Americus & Sumter County Hospital Association in 1908 and after raising funds and community interest in a modern medical facility, they dedicated the Sumter County Hospital in 1913.
Initially a 27-bed facility, it doubled in size after the addition of an annex in 1932. It was in use until a new hospital opened north of town in 1952.
This Prairie style landmark has been abandoned for over 60 years and is presently on the market.
Americus Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Dr. Herman Dismuke holding Brenda McCormick, whom he had delivered a year earlier, 27 April 1947
Ocilla’s first hospital, with 20 beds, was opened by Dr. Herman Dismuke* and Dr. Gabe Willis in 1914. It originally featured wrap-around porches. Jamie Wilcox Lovett and Cindy Griffin note that this was built by their great-grandfather, Robert Toombs Woolsey. It was made obsolete by a newer facility in the early 1930s and is now a private residence.
*Dr. Dismuke was the most beloved physician in Irwin County during his lifetime. He delivered thousands of babies, promoted modern health and sanitary practices through his work with the clinic at Irwinville Farms during the Great Depression and served as the county doctor.
Sandra Crouch Irons writes: My grandfather, Thomas A. Crouch, purchased this building to house his wife and family which included 7 children the first of which was born in 1898 and the last in 1911. I’m not exactly sure as to when he purchased the sanitarium, but I do have photographs of my father, Joseph P. Crouch, outside the back porch when he was about 12 which would have made the date around 1923. The sanitarium was never replaced around the 1930s because the Crouch family lived there. I am aware that my grandfather remodeled some of the interior, but the exterior remained basically the same until it was sold somewhere around the late 1980s/early 90s. I lived in and grew up in this house from 1954, when my father retired from the Marines and moved back to Ocilla, until I went to college in 1965. My husband, Stephen Irons, our daughter, Jennifer, and I continued to visit my parents and Aunt Joree who continued to live here until the house was sold.
Central Building [now known as the Powell Building], Central State Hospital, National Register of Historic Places
The Georgia Lunatic Asylum opened on the outskirts of Milledgeville in 1842, its name only slightly more benign than the original “Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic Asylum” conjured at its establishment in 1837. The need for such a facility was precipitated by the social reform movements popular in the early 19th century and at first, especially under the guidance of Dr. Thomas A. Green, patients were treated as humanely as possible. Green was responsible for attempting to humanize the plight of the asylum’s population, removing chains and restraints and even taking meals with them. Within its next century, though, the institution occupied over 200 buildings on nearly 2000 acres. At its peak, there were nearly 13,000 souls residing here, making it the largest state mental institution in the nation.
Victorian Building, Central State Hospital
Unfortunately, after the Civil War, the institution experienced rapid growth, as many communities warehoused “undesirable” people from their communities to what was essentially a prison sentence at Milledgeville. This included thousands of veterans whose maladies deemed them impossible to treat in their resource-strained communities. This growth lead to a 100:1 physician to patient ratio that persisted for nearly a hundred years. In 1897, the facility came to be known as the Georgia State Sanitarium. But to most Georgians, it was simply known as “Milledgeville”. It was universally known in the state as a place to avoid. Walking the immense grounds today, one has to feel sorrow for the souls who were put away here, and a sense of anger at the horrible way we treated the mentally ill until the recent past.
Storehouse, Central State Hospital, National Register of Historic Places
By the 1960s, pharmaceutical advances helped reduce the number of patients who were subjected to such horrific treatments as electroshock therapy and lobotomies. For much of the 20th century, the institution was essentially an experimental laboratory of psychology, doing greater damage to its residents than good. The name of the property was changed to Central State Hospital in 1967 and by the 1970s, the population was in rapid decrease.
Auditorium, Central State Hospital
Today, fewer than 200 residents are in treatment here and a goal of phasing out the facility altogether is closer to reality. Most of the buildings are in ruin and while anyone is welcome to walk around the grounds, it’s illegal to enter any of the structures. A round-the-clock security team strictly enforces this mandate.
This was built as a one-story house but was expanded by Dr. Madison Monroe Holland (1860-1914) Holland in 1908 to accommodate his medical practice. Statesboro didn’t have a hospital at the time and the house served that purpose. Holland was one of Statesboro’s first doctors and briefly owned the Statesboro Drug Store, as well.
This hospital was chartered in 1936. Robert Jenks Taylor gave the city $100,000 for construction of the hospital in memory of his father, Dr. Eziekiel Henry Taylor, and his grandfather, Dr. Robert Newsome Taylor, Hawkinsville’s first physicians. It closed in early 1977 with the completion of a newer facility north of town. After being in a state of disrepair for many years it is presently being restored for use as apartments.
Rita J. McDaniel writes: Looks like the old Williams Home…on Williams Street….just off the corner of Lee Ave and Williams. Was used as a hospital at one time but was built as a residence, if memory serves me. It does appear that the rear section of the house was a later addition.
Waycross Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Anna King notes that this was the Elbert County Hospital in the First National Bank Building and it was on the 4th floor first. Then it took over the entire building in 1929. It closed in 1950 and a new one was built on Chestnut Street. Doug Anderson’s barber shop is located in the basement.
Elberton Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places