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Central State Hospital architectural drawings

 Collection — Folder: OBC096
Identifier: OBC096

Scope and Contents

This collection includes four architectural drawings of Central State Hospital buildings in Indianapolis, Indiana circa 1896. The first three drawings show floor plans of the basement and first and second floors of the "Hospital for Sick Insane, Central Indiana Hosptial for Insane." The fourth drawing depicts both floors of the "Pathological Department" (today known as the Old Pathology Building).


  • 1896

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Historical Note

Central State Hospital, Indiana's primary hospital for the mentally ill during the 19th century, opened in 1848 as the Indiana Hospital for the Insane. A single brick building on Washington Street, the hospital was established as the primary psychiatric treatment facility in the state. The institution grew rapidly over the next century, coming to occupy 160 acres on the city's west side. In 1889, the facility was renamed Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane.

Hospital superintendent Dr. George F. Edenharter (1857-1923) added the much-lauded Pathology Building in 1896 for the purpose of researching causes and treatments of mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia (or dementia praecox), depression (melancholia), general paresis, hysteria, alcoholism, senile dementia, and epilepsy. Dr. Edenharter worked with famed-architect Adolph Scherrer (1847-1925) to design the Pathology Building. In the 1960s, the Pathology Department closed and the building reopened as the Indiana Medical History Museum in 1969. The nation’s oldest surviving facility of its kind, the Old Pathology Building holds an amphitheater; laboratories for bacteriology, clinical chemistry, histology, and photography, an autopsy room, and an anatomical museum, while the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Completed in 1902, he Sick Hospital comprised 5 distinct buildings connected by corridors. The administrative and medical treatment portions were centrally located, with the men's ward and women's ward, to the right and left. These gender-segregated wards contained surgical wards on the first floor and medical wards on the second floor, each ward consisting of a day sitting room, and 10 separate bedrooms; a nurses' day room, clothing room, supply rooms, lavatory and bathrooms for patients and separate attendants. The nuclear section housed the operating department on first floor, in direct communication with male and female surgical wards, consisting of an operating room for general diagnosis and instruments room for sterilizing nearby. The buiding was demolished during the 1960s.

By the turn of the 20th century, the patient population had grown to nearly 3,000. During the 1960s and 1970s, the number of patients diminished as the push for deinstitutionalization began in the mental health field. Governor Evan Bayh closed the facility on West Washington Street in 1994, following allegations of patient abuse and chronic funding issues. There were only 300 patients at the time of closing.


Items in the colleciton.

Indiana Archives and Records Administraiton. "Introduction." Central State Hospital Collection Index. Accessed August 12, 2015.

Indiana Medical History Museum. "About the Indiana Medical History Museum." Accessed August 12, 2015.

Ksander, Yael. "Central State Hospital." Moment of Indiana History. Accessed August 12, 2015.


0.03 Cubic Feet (2 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by two buildings and then by floors of those buildings.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Central State Hospital.


No further additions are expected.

Related Archival Material

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collection(s) in Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

L383: Central State Hospital collection

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2015/08/06 by Nikki Stoddard Schofield. EAD finding aid created 2015/08/06 by Nikki Stoddard Schofield. EAD finding aid revised 2015/08/13 by Brittany Kropf.
Central State Hospital architectural drawings
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.