State Hospital No. 4 The 40th General Assembly authorized the establishment of State Hospital No. 4 in Southeast Missouri in 1899, and appropriated $150,000 for purchase of a site and erection of buildings.
First Patients In January 1903, Dr. William Hall, superintendent, admitted the first seven patients. The number of patients eventually grew to over 1,000 and the campus included a barber shop, drug store, post office, bowling alley, cannery, dairy, greenhouse, mattress factory, power plant and a graveyard as well as other required services.
Communication by "Bell"
The hospital has a bell in a place of honor just beneath the flag pole in the circle in front of the present facility. This bell has been put to a new purpose since it was found rusted lying in the weeds. Long ago it hung above the administration building at the Farmington State Hospital. Before telephones, it was used to summon employees. The bell now represents a replica of the official mental health bell in Baltimore, which is the symbol of the National Mental Health Association, NMHA, cast in 1953. The 300-pound official bell contains material from mental wards in each state including chains, handcuffs and other metal restraints formerly used to tie down mental patients. It bears the inscription: "Cast from the shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness."
Popular Treatments and Progress 1924 to 1987 In 1924 one of the favored treatments was hydrotherapy, followed by lobotomies in 1940 and electro-shock therapy in 1942. In 1930 there were 1,080 patients in the institution and Dr. Emmett Hoctor was superintendent. He dedicated his life to the hospital and after he retired in 1978 he lived on the grounds until his death in 1986. Beginning in the mid-60's there was a steady decline in patient population due to new and improved treatment programs, increased treatment staff, new drugs and placement in the community foster homes and boarding/nursing homes. In 1987 the hospital buildings were converted into a prison and a new building was constructed nearby for the hospital. When it opened in July 1987, it was renamed Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center.
Before telephones, this bell was used to summon staff. The "number of rings" identified the staff person being called.
State Hospital #4 was one of the first cottage plan institutions built in the United States. Below are pictures of some of the cottages. The lower floor of each cottage was used exclusively for day purposes and the upper floor solely for sleeping and night purposes.
Hidden in the brush and tall weeds at the back of the cemetery is what once was the first thing visitors saw when they came to the hospital. It served as the front gate guardhouse where a guard would stop all those who entered and left the grounds.