Painted Metal Sign, Oregon State Hospital Collections
The Oregon State Hospital (OSH) is Oregon’s primary state-run psychiatric facility for adults.  The hospital was started in 1880, when the Oregon Legislature passed an act to create a public insane asylum.  Prior to that, the state contracted with private individuals to care for “lunatics,” as defined by the Provisional Goverment in 1843.   This contract was held exclusively by Dr. J.C. Hawthorne and his Oregon Hospital for the Insane in Portland from 1862 until the Oregon State Insane Asylum (OSIA) opened in Salem in 1883.  The “U”-shaped portion of what is now known as the J-Building was the original asylum building.  The building was designed by Salem architect W.F. Boothby with a layout and features that echoed the theories of “Moral Treatment” advocate Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride.

In 1913, the Eastern Oregon State Hospital (EOSH) was opened in Pendleton after a long legislative battle over a new facility to ease patient crowding at OSIA.  That same year, the state formed the Board of Control which took over administration of  OSIA and renamed it the Oregon State Hospital (OSH).  The patient population at OSH peaked in 1958 at 3,545 patients.  Additional facilities were opened in The Dalles (Columbia Park Hospital, 1959-1973), Wilsonville (F.H. Dammasch State Hospital, 1961-1995) and in Portland (Holladay Park Medical Center, 1995-present).

Today, OSH is an operating hospital administered by the Oregon State Department of Human Services (DHS) with two campuses in Salem and Portland.

In 2008, amidst planning for replacement of the outdated buildings on the Salem campus, the hospital and grounds were listed on the National Historic Register.  While construction of a new facility on the Salem campus is underway, plans include the preservation of  the oldest portion of the original 1883 building and the creation of a new museum.

Postcard depicting the Oregon State Insane Asylum (T2009.006.005). Postcard is postmarked 1917.

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