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Report Of Commissioners Appointed To Superintend Erection Of A Lunatic Hospital At Worcester

From: Reports And Other Documents Relating To The State Lunatic Hospital At Worcester, Mass.
Creator:  Horace Mann, Bezaleel Taft, Jr., and W.B. Calhoun (authors)
Date: January 4, 1832
Publisher: Dutton and Wentworth, Boston
Source: Available at selected libraries

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The cellar extends under the whole edifice. An excavation to the depth of three or four feet was necessary in order to lay the foundation; and, by excavating a little deeper than was indispensable for that purpose, a great amount of room is obtained, and many obvious advantages are secured.


The basement story of the centre building is designed for storerooms, a kitchen, laundry, &c. The front part of the second story contains four rooms of convenient size, which, with the chambers immediately over them, and the small sleeping apartments into which the fourth story is divided, are intended for a superintendent and his family, a steward, and the domestics and laborers necessarily employed in and about so extensive an establishment. As this portion of the Hospital is to be used in the same way as any ordinary dwelling-house, it is, according to the plan, to be finished in a similar manner. The rear of the 1st, 2d and 3d stories of the centre building is designed for the dining and day-rooms of the insane.


The wings are, in each story, divided in the centre by a long hall or aisle, 12 feet in width, and extending from end to end. In consequence of the wings' falling half their width, as before mentioned, in the rear of the centre building, these halls communicate, at both ends, with the external air, and thus the means of a most thorough ventilation are secured. Whoever has visited any public establishment, where the entire end of a wing is met and closed in by the side of the main building, cannot have failed to perceive the noisomeness of the atmosphere at that place, compared with it at the outer end, where free admission has been given to the pure air. On each side of these halls are situated the apartments designed for the insane. They are 8 feet by 10, and all are provided with a permanent seat secured in the wall. Each apartment has a large window with an upper sash of cast iron, and a lower sash of wood, both of which are glazed. Immediately without the wooden sash is a false sash of cast iron, corresponding with the wooden one in appearance and dimensions. This is set firmly into the sides of the window-frame, a narrow space being left at the bottom for water to pass off, and save the frame from decay. When the wooden sash is raised, the false iron one presents a barrier against escape or injury from leaping out through the window. It is said, that a man, however furiously mad, or impatient of confinement he may be, will rarely attempt to break through a window, until he has first tried unsuccessfully to raise it. If it be so, this simple contrivance will afford effectual security both to property and person, without inflicting upon the patient any injurious restraint. Each of these apartments is provided with two air flues, one for heated, the other for cold, air. It is intended to warm the wings by furnaces placed in the cellar. The hot air is to be conducted from the furnaces through flues in the hall walls, and to be discharged through apertures into the halls. By these means, the air in the halls may be raised throughout to any desirable temperature. Over the door of each apartment there is a small aperture, through which the heated air in the halls will pass into the rooms, and thence will be carried off into the attic by means of the hot air flue of the room. The aperture of this flue is at the bottom of the room, and is to be kept open only in winter. The aperture of the other flue is at the top of the room, and is to be kept open in the summer, so that, as the air is made light by heat, it will rise and pass off through this channel, and the cool air from without will rush in to supply its place. All these flues open into the attic, which is ventilated by skylights in the roof, and large fan-windows at the ends. At the end of the wings, where they join on and are connected with the rear part of the centre building, the halls open into the dining and day-rooms, before mentioned, in the centre building. These rooms are fitted up with the same means of strength and security as are provided for the apartments in the wings, and, being directly connected with the halls, are to be warmed from them. The dining-rooms, occupying the rear of the first, second and third stories of the centre building, are of course situated immediately over a portion of the kitchen. Adjoining these rooms, a perpendicular space is left open from the kitchen to the third story, through which, by means of an apparatus similar to a windlass, and called a dumb waiter, the food can be raised from the kitchen and distributed to one hundred and twenty persons in six different divisions, without inconvenience.


Each story in the wings is provided with a bathing-room, washing-room, &c. The large windows at each end of the hall, are protected by an open frame-work of iron. Each hall has a separate stairway, leading into an outer yard, so that each story in each wing is as entirely disconnected from all the others, as if it were a separate building. This allows that separation and classification of the patients, on which all treatises upon the means of restoring the insane, so strenuously insist.

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