Major Asylums and Prisons in America
By: Chris

Dixmont State Hospital

Dixmont is the oldest institution in Western Pennsylvania, and was opened during the civil war in 1862.  Named for Dorthea Dix, it was one of the best and largest private institutions of their time.  Dixmont has been know for being the one of the most haunted hospitals in the Eastern U.S., second only to the Eastern State Penitentiary.

"If the peeling, graffiti-covered walls of Dixmont State Hospital could talk, they would tell a thousand stories, stories about people whose illnesses or idiosyncrasies landed them there, stories about how treatment of the mentally ill in America has changed since the 1800s." - Jan Ackerman

Eastern State Penitentiary

The Eastern State Penitentiary opened on October 23rd, 1829.  It was a very, very large prison/asylum, with 7 blocks, 5 of them 2 stories or more to accommodate the growing number of inmates.  The prison housed inmates with mental illnesses, but was mainly built to house the area's convicts.  In the first 20 years of existence, over 70,000 tourists came to see the prison, which looked like towering castle. In 1970, after almost 150 years after opening, the prison was shut down.  Over the next half century, the prison was used only a handful of times as a place of refuge for other local prisoners during riots.  In 2000, tours open to the public 7 days a week with over 50,000 visitors that year.

Famous inmates at Eastern State include Leo Callahan (the only inmate still at large), and Alphonse "Scarface" Capone

The front of the penitentiary looked like a castle.

The halls of Eastern State were dark, frightening places that can be toured today.

McLean Insane Asylum

The hospital, also called Sommerville Correction Facility as well as the Charlestown Asylum,
 was built in 1811 as a normal hospital.  In the late 1830's, it was transformed into a public place for the housing and treatment of the mentally ill.  Named for John McLean, a wealthy businessman from Boston, McLean was a very well funded institution.  After moving from Belmont, Massachusetts to Oaks Hill, Massachusetts in 1895, many notable patients began to arrive.  Many musicians spent time at McLean, including Ray Charles, James Taylor, and most recently, Rick James.

John McLean, the main benefactor and the man that funded the hospital.  He also funded a series of other institutions.

This is an artist's rendering of the original hospital, located in Charlestown.