Ever since we moved here five years ago, I've hoped to take pictures of the mostly-abandoned mental hospital downtown.
(I think this was a cafe/cantina)
Since then, the property has been sold to a developer. You can read about those details here. Thankfully, some of the bigger historic buildings will be integrated into the development.
The building of the Asylum began in 1821. At the time if was called the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum. It eventually became the South Carolina State Hospital & housed much of the Department of Mental Health (there are still working offices on parts of the grounds).
What's fascinating about this piece of architectural history is that the Asylum became a small town unto itself. It housed a bakery, a library, a mini-farm, a chapel & a cantina. It also had its own morgue (photo directly below).
One of the buildings - the Trezevant building - was named after a doctor Trezevant. According to Wikipedia:
"South Carolina Lunatic Asylum head physician Dr. Trezevant successfully argued that the staggering of blocks would not allow the ventilation needed for the warm southern climate. However, against Trezevant's wishes, the halls were built in a double-range, with rooms on either side of the hallway."
There was a research project done by students from the university of South Carolina, called Bull Street: A Forgotten Past and Uncertain Future.
The student research exhibit does include a full-body straight jacket & an electroshock device.
One thing to note, though, South Carolina was one of the first states to become interested in mental health, and try to implement a state-funded hospital guided towards healing. As a personal aside: I think the problem was less with intention (as is almost always the case) and mostly with the principle that an institution - in this case the state - could better care for individuals who were sick, than could the families of the patients. At first the asylum was not popular because most families chose to care for their ailing at home.
Interestingly, the asylum became nearly self-sufficient. The farm supplied wheat for baking bread (there was a bakery), there was a hog farm for meat & even its own dairy.
The Chapel of Hope remains one of my favorite buildings.
Here is a documentary SCETV produced that I'm keen to watch & here is a good spot for seeing indoor pictures of the facilities.
I was only able to take pictures from the outside (a few times I put my camera up to the window and was able to get a good picture of the inside of a building).
Towards the end of taking pictures, a security guard called out to me & told me I was not able to take pictures. She was very friendly, & we chatted a bit. She even pointed out the building that used to be the morgue and gave me contact information for the developers, but I'm pretty sure the window for tours are over now. In fact I read a few blogs that said photographers were even asked to erase their memory cards after taking pictures.