Friday, May 29, 2015

College Hill Secrets by Jillian Kent

The Ohio Female College
 My husband and I moved to Cincinnati, Ohio after graduating from West Virginia University in 1980 with our Masters Degrees in Social Work.

We began our work life journey together at Emerson A. North Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital located in College Hill, Ohio. One of the first questions I ever asked is, "Where's the college?" The answer from a friend was, "You're standing in the middle of it, but it didn't look like this when it was functioning as a school."

The hospital was named after a prominent psychiatrist in Cincinnati. I located a brief paragraph in the UC Department of Psychology History from 1960. 

"The first coursework in clinical psychology was offered in the 1923-1924 academic year. Emerson A. North, MD, Instructor in Neurology at the College of Medicine, offered a course entitled clinical psychology. In addition, Maurice Levine, who had recently completed a master's degree in psychology at UC, offered a course in abnormal psychology. Both North and Levine would go on to head the Psychiatry Department at the College of Medicine in later years."

Emerson A North Hospital
When I began my work on the Adult Units at Emerson it was May 1980. The main part of the hospital looked very much like this although this picture is from an earlier time.

The Cincinnati Sanitarium was established in 1873. "It was the first private psychiatric facility in the U. S. for the treatment of nervous and mental disorders plus alcohol and opium addictions and occupied 40 acres with  four two-story cottages, an amusement hall with a billiard hall in the basement, a flower conservatory, several physical plant buildings, an ice house and even a station for the Cincinnati Northwestern railroad. One of the buildings, the administration building, occupied the site of The Ohio Female College which was founded in 1852."

Aerial view of the Cincinnati Sanitarium

So many psychiatric hospitals closed in the 1980's when deinstitutionalization put our mentally ill on the street.

Just out of curiosity. What's the name of the
closest psychiatric hospital near you? Do you know it's history?

 Jillian Kent writes novels set during England's Regency era. A student of both historical and contemporary mental health issues she is also a full time counselor for nursing students. To find out more please visit




  1. It's an easy answer since there is a Veterans Hospital is within walking distance from me.

    I don't know its history but I did found out that assistance for veterans began in 1636 when the Pligrams were at war with Peqout Indians--any disabled men were assisted by the colony.

    1. I had no idea they had any assistance in 1636.

  2. The closest to me is part of the larger complex of a local hospital. I don't know nearly as much about its history as I do about the Lincoln Regional Center, which was part of the founding plans of the capitol city of Nebraska. My first husband (who passed away in 2001) had an office in one of the repurposed buildings on the original "Insane Asylum" grounds. I am very thankful for people like you, Jillian, who serve those with mental health challenges.

    1. Hi Steph,
      Thanks for the kind words. I love my work, it truly is a ministry. I remember when your first husband died. A very sad time. If the land could talk just imagine how much it would have to say about history.

  3. actually I was institutionalized here in 1863 or 1964 I was 11 years old. I have stories.

  4. In 1985 I was an adolescent inpatient at Emerson at the age of 15. It was a life changing experience. I wonder if we ever interacted.

  5. In 1985 I was an adolescent inpatient at Emerson at the age of 15. It was a life changing experience. I wonder if we ever interacted.

  6. I was also an adolescent inpatient at Emerson in 1985, at the age of 13. I wonder if the two of us patients knew each other.

  7. I was an adolescent patient in 1979-80 at 12-13 years old. I spent time on the adolescent unit on floor 2 and some on the adult unit on floor 3 due to my uncontrollable desire to leave any way I could. It's nice to see others that have this same story. I also have stories.