Connecticut General Hospital for the Insane

Connecticut General Hospital for the Insane

Infobox_nrhp | name =Connecticut General Hospital for the Insane
nrhp_type =nrhp

caption =Shew Hall, first building of the hospital constructed in 1867
location= Middletown, Connecticut
area =
architect= Multiple
architecture= Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals, Late Victorian
added = August 29, 1985
governing_body = State
refnum=85001920cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|date=2006-03-15|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]


Address: Silver Street; east of Eastern Drive, Middletown, Connecticut
Style: Mid 19th Century to Early 20th Century
Date of Construction: from 1867 to the present
Materials: variety
Structural System: variety
Architect: various
Builder: various
Historic Use: Insane asylum
Current Use: Psychiatric Care Facility

Relationship to Surroundings

This expansive site comprises the main section of Connecticut Valley Hospital (current name). Located in the South Farms district, it consists of a large concentration of early and contemporary buildings. The site, landscaped with broad lawns and large shade trees, is at the top of a hill and offers panoramic views of the city. Silver Street and Bow Lane pass thorough the property which is bordered by Eastern Drive, west. Small drives, leading from these streets, traverse the grounds.


The Connecticut Hospital for the Insane was formally opened in this city during 1868. Two years earlier, Middletown had granted the site to the State for the establishment of an asylum to accommodate Connecticut's mentally ill. By 1896, four groups of buildings had been erected and the institution was one of the largest of its kind in the country.

The hospital consists of approximately eighty structures complemented by convert|650|acre|km2 south and east of the main site. It includes large institutional buildings constructed of brick and brownstone, frame and brick residences, and a number of maintenance buildings. The majority of these form a large group centered around Shew Hall. This site, which contains approximately two hundred acres, is illustrated by the accompanying map. It comprises many distinctive structures that evidence different periods of the institution's development.

Shew Hall, the original hospital structure, was built in 1867. It functions as the administrative building and is the focal point of the institution. This large structure is named in honor of the hospital's first superintendent, Dr. Abram M. Shew. Designed by Addison Hutton of Philadelphia, it was constructed in the Second Empire style. The building was remodeled in 1939, when the interior was updated and a flat roof bordered by a parapet was installed on the main section. The three large wings display mansard roofs and details that are indicative of the main section's former appearance.

Stanley Hall, built around 1879, is also designed in the Second Empire style. Now vacant, it was the hospital's maximum security facility in earlier years. This unimposing, rectangular building is plainly decorated and has a mansard roof with numerous dormers. The windows are screened by metal bars, reminiscent of its previous function.

Woodward Hall, erected about 1886, is of Queen Anne style. It has an irregular profile that is accentuated by many ells. The structure exhibits multiple roofs capped by numerous chimneys, wide turrets, and large, gabled dormers. The interior has been recently remodelled.

Weeks Hall built in 1894, is also constructed in the Queen Anne and in addition, has features that suggest the influence of the Jacobethan Revival. Its appearance, similar to the at of Woodward Hall, is highlighted by prominent, steeply pitched gables and floral designs in terra cotta. The building, presently unoccupied, served as a patient care facility.

Smith Home, constructed about 1909, is designed in the Colonial Revival style. It has a cross-gabled roof crowned by a slender, distinctive tower. The main entrance displays fluted pilasters and a large fan in relief above the door. Currently unoccupied, the structure once housed hospital employees.

Other notable early buildings are sited on the grounds. The police station, a distinctive cottage, was erected in 1895. Shepherd Home and Russell Hall are two similar structures that were built in the 1920s; they exhibit large, ornate porticos which are classical in design. There are also a number of small residences, constructed during the late nineteenth century, that have served as living quarters for the staff.

This site reflects the history associated with the care and treatment of the mentally ill in Connecticut. The buildings, reminiscent of different eras of the hospital's past, document its progressive growth and comprise a diverse collection that contributes to the architectural variety of Middletown.

Current Use and Condition

The site is still used as a Psychiatric Care Facility, operated by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The State has indicated that it wishes to demolish up to 24 buildings on the campus.


Middletown, Connecticut Historical and Architectural Resources. Volume IV, Card Number 256. Robert Svec. December, 1978.

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