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"S" is for South Carolina Lunatic Asylum/State Hospital

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"S" is for South Carolina Lunatic Asylum/State Hospital. The South Carolina Lunatic Asylum, located in Columbia, opened in 1828. It is the third-oldest state mental institution in the United States. The original building, named after its architect, Robert Mills, is the nation’s oldest surviving state mental hospital structure and a National Historical Landmark. In 1896 the asylum was renamed the South Carolina State Hospital for the Insane caring for large numbers of patients deemed chronic and incurable. In 1913 the state built a separate facility for black patients outside Columbia. By the 1950s when the patient census reached 4,000, new drugs provided hope that many patients could function outside the hospital. By 2003, the average hospital census was under 200 and the Department of Mental Health announced plans to close the South Carolina State Hospital.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.