The second oldest psychiatric hospital in the U.S. is located in Kentucky. Eastern State Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky was once known as a "lunatic asylum."
Today, it serves as a psychiatric hospital with 239 beds to provide inpatient care.
Eastern State Hospital has gone through quite a few name changes throughout the years. It was first called Fayette Hospital in 1817 and then became known as the "lunatic asylum." It was only renamed Eastern State Hospital from 1912 onwards.
The asylum was first established in 1816 by a group of Kentuckians who wanted to create a facility for the poor and those they considered insane.
Initially, the hospital was designated as a medical facility before it was used to house the insane. The very first patient admitted to the hospital was actually a black woman from Woodford County. Later, the hospital continued to grow with new patients and new building additions.
The majority of patients at the asylum were poor and their stay was covered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. There were a few paying boarders and the most famous of them was Theodore Clay, the son of Kentucky statesman, Henry Clay.
The asylum was hit with controversy for its treatment of some of the patients. African American patients were also segregated from white patients and housed in a different building. Their living conditions were considered to be unfit. Activists advocated for better treatment and humane living conditions.
In 2014, the original asylum buildings were demolished and a new and modern facility was opened.