Cupid Repaired, 1963

Fifty years ago today, this news story appeared in the Oregon Statesman newspaper:

After being knocked over twice by vandals, this statue-fountain of cupid was replaced on the Oregon State Hospital grounds Thursday by Donald Muellhapt (left) and Harvey Gibbens, hospital employees.  The statue was restored with money from the patients’ own fund.  All concerned are hoping goodwill will prevail this time and the statue will remain standing.

After this article was published the statue was removed and placed into storage at the hospital.  It did make an appearance in exhibits for the hospital’s 100th anniversary in 1983.  As part of the Oregon State Hospital replacement project, the statue was restored and placed in its original location, in front of the Kirkbride building where you can visit it today.

Ward Hall Description, 1883

Listen to a description of wards at the Oregon State Hospital, published in the October 24, 1883 edition of the Morning Oregonian.

Morning Oregonian October 24, 1883

A description of these wards serve as a correct description of all the wards in the building, twelve in number, with the female wards on the south side and male wards on the north side. The corridors are 12 feet wide in the main wards and 168 feet in length. Those in the wing wards are 11×155. In the center of each awards is a day room 20×30 feet in size, made off from this corridor and projecting in front, which will be used as sitting rooms for patients. They are furnished with upholstered seats and are light and pleasant, having windows on three sides and affording a splendid view of the surrounding country. Directly in the rear of the day rooms and in the center of each ward are the lavatories 7×14 feet, bath rooms 8×11, and the linen rooms 6×11. Back of these and outside of the main ward buildings are the water closets, 11.5×12, one above the other on each of the three floors, and are surmounted by the water tanks, four in number, each with a capacity of 6000 gallons.

Communication Center, 1963

The following description of the Comm Center and its duties was published in a 1963 open house brochure at the Oregon State Hospital.  In 1963, the Comm Center was located in the Kirkbride building just to the southeast of the building’s main entrance.  Later it moved to the 35 building (Breitenbush Hall)  on the north side of Center Street.  The new Comm Center is located in the new hospital entrance, just to the southeast of the Kirkbride building as seen in photo  below.

Bird’s Eye View

T2009.002.427.109 Aerial Photograph, Oregon State Hospital, sometime between 1951 and 1973.  Photograph from the collections of the Oregon State Hospital.  Image is taken from the southwestern corner facing towards the northeast.  The large white building at the center is the so-called “J-Building” owing to its shape like the letter “J.”  Today the stem of that “J” has been demolished leaving the oldest part of the building, a “U” shaped section often referred to as the “Kirkbride U”.

Blaze Destroys State Hospital Farm Barns, 1931

The following is an article from the Oregon Statesman published May 31, 1931.

Blaze Destroys Two State Hospital Farm Barns, Loss $40,000

Excited Inmate Dashes Into Inferno, Saved With Shirt Burned


Believed Incendiary; Cattle all Saved, Two by Force

Fire thought to be incendiary totally destroyed two large barns at the state hospital farm, four and one half miles east of here, at 9:15 o’clock last night.  The loss on the structures and the contents is estimated at $40,000.

More than 100 head of cattle had been turned out only a few hours before the flames started.  None of these were lost although two bulls, at large after keepers had loosed them, started back into the flames but were repelled by their keepers.

Man Rushes Back, Shirt Burned Off

No inmates of the hospital farm were in the barns when the flames were seen but one man, apparently deranged by the fire, started back into the blaze.  Keepers rescued him but not until his shirt was burned.  It was necessary to handcuff him to keep him away from the fire.

Attendants at the state hospital farm did not discover the flames until they had started to lick their way through the roof of the large barn.  The headway the fire had gained inclined them to the theory that some inmate had started the blaze.  A few years ago a state hospital inmate started another fire.

OSH Campus according to Engineer Garson, 1958

Auditorium, Oregon State Hospital, Oregon State Archives Photo, OSH 00018

The following is an interview with Engineer J.A. Garson published in the October 1958 edition of the Lamplighter, an OSH newsletterThe article coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Oregon State Hospital, and many early staff members and patients are interviewed or profiled. 

When Mr. Garson came to the hospital in 1919, it looked much different than it does now.  For example, from 24th to 21st streets there were hospital orchards of walnut trees.  Where the treatment and surgical buildings sit were poultry and pheasant farms for OSH.  The doctor’s cottages were not in existence, and in their place were berry fields.  The machine shop was located where what is now the freezing department.  The morgue building, 1896, is what is today the paint shop.  The Tailoring Shop, Carpenter Shop were all where the Quonset hut is now located.  Mrs. Steiner, with her superintendent husband, planned the landscaping of the grounds and due to patient labor they were completed. 

What a Difference a Year Makes

Cupola replaced, scaffolding gone and landscaping taking shape,  the J-building has undergone an amazing transformation in the past year.  Top photo is from today, August 8, 2011.  Bottom photo is from July 2010.

OSH Cottage Architect Makes Mark on Salem

A post on the Capital Taps Blog recently featured an article on Louis Hazeltine, an architect responsible for the design and furnishing the “Physicians’ Cottages” at the Oregon State Hospital.

At the start of the Oregon State Hospital Replacement project, there were 21 cottages along the southern edge of the hospital campus (see map here.)  A fixed asset ledger from the Oregon State Hospital indicates that the earliest of these cottages (1 and 2) were built in 1909, with brick garages added in 1946.[1]   These appear to be the only ones built prior to the 1911 article quoted.

Coming up Roses

With the removal of Siskyou Hall (Building 29), the hospital will be re-landscaping the area in front of the refurbished Cascade Hall (J-Building).  The designs, as Deputy Director of the OSH Hospital Replacement Project Jodie Jones mentions in the above video, will correlate with the historical layout of the site and provide a beautiful memorial rose garden for OSH community members.

The fountain (Baby Hercules) and turn-around circle mentioned in the above video in front of the J-Building around the turn of the century. SOURCE: Oregon State Archives, OSH 0029

Flush with Thanksgiving

From article "Conditions Today at OSH" OREGON JOURNAL, February 9, 1947.

I had the opporunity to tour the new Harbors Facility at OSH last week.  For someone who spends a lot of time dwelling in OSH’s past, touring the new, clean and spacious facility was an interesting change of pace.  With more discouraging headlines practically every day since then, a 1947 Oregon Journal article I came across today instilled a little Thanksgiving spirit.

In “Conditions Today at OSH,” reporter Tom Humphrey details the many problems OSH was facing in 1947, including inadequate facilities and staffing.  One of the most striking examples given was the state of the bathroom facilities on Ward 19.  The image to the left depicts the two toilets being used by 92 female residents living there.  If that weren’t bad enough, all 92 women also shared a single bathtub for bathing.

Contrast that with the new Harbors facilities, featuring not only private rooms, but private bathrooms attached to those.  In the new wings of the hospital, single and double rooms with adjacent bathrooms will mean that residents will be sharing facilities with, at most, one other person.  That’s something to be thankful for.

As mentioned in the dedication ceremonies at the new facilities last week, we have a long way to go in improving the facilities and programs at OSH.  Let’s not forget to celebrate, too, how far we’ve come.