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Mental Health Milestones - First 100 Years

A Timeline: Statehood to 1889

1796 - 1840 No State facility for the mentally ill in Tennessee.  Care was responsibility of local communities:  included family care, jails, almshouses, poor houses.

1826 Almshouse system established in Tennessee when General Assembly granted Anderson County permission to build an almshouse. Legislation expanded in 1827 to apply to all counties.

1832 Tennessee Legislature authorized first hospital for insane and appropriated $10,000. 

1840 Tennessee Lunatic Asylum opened in Nashville as the 11th institution for mentally ill in USA.

1847 Dorothea Dix visited Tennessee and found Nashville asylum deficient.  She implored the Legislature to purchase larger site for a new hospital.

1848 Legislature appropriated $40,000 for new hospital for insane.  Site purchased on Murfreesboro Turnpike.

1852 Tennessee Hospital for the Insane (now Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute) opened with 60 patients transferred from old asylum.

1868 Ewing Building became first mental hospital for Negroes in the USA.

1886 East Tennessee Hospital for the Insane (now Lakeshore Mental Health Institute) opened in Knoxville with the  transfer of 99 patients from the Nashville hospital.

1889 West Tennessee Hospital for the Insane (now Western Mental Health Institute) in Bolivar opened with the transfer of 156 patients from Nashville.