Massillon History: State Hospital

Massillon State Hospital

written by archives intern Hannah Sues and Archivist Mandy Altimus Pond

The grounds where the State Hospital exists originally was owned by James Duncan, founder of Massillon. In 1817, he and his wife Eliza moved into a cottage on the land called “Estramadura Farm,” or “The Plains.” The home was built by William R. Dickinson to raise Merino sheep, and Estramadura was the name of the region in Spain where the sheep originated. By 1821, the Duncan family moved to Kendal, Ohio, and later built homes in Massillon.

During William McKinley’s first term as the governor of Ohio, the city of Massillon was chosen for the very first state hospital in the United States and Canada in 1892 (the site was authorized in this same year). The construction of the hospital began in 1893 with the groundbreaking for McKinley Hall. This hall was built while William McKinley was governor, and was the first hall used to house mental patients. The hospital opened on September 6, 1898, housing 300 patients from 21 different counties.

Even though it holds the name of a “city” hospital, it was not really owned by Massillon itself. This is because there was no money collected from the city in taxes, and the “hospital supported entirely from the money received from patients for services rendered”. The hospital is both a member of the American and Ohio Hospital Associations and it functions through the Board of Trustees (consisting of nine local men).The hospital was originally the Eastern Ohio Mental Asylum, but was later changed to the Massillon State Hospital.

The McKinley Hall hospital was one of the most popular and “the most beautiful institution in the world”. By 1950, the hospital housed 3,100 patients with approximately 365 full and part time workers and nurses. The expanse of the land was so beautiful that many family picnics took place on the lawn, as well as the Massillon football and baseball games.

Under Dr. Hyde, the most popular superintendent of the hospital was very well liked and Judge John H. Lamneck said that Dr. Hyde “did more than any other single individual in Ohio for the mentally ill”.

Photographs of the State Hospital

The Massillon Museum preserves a small collection of photos of the Massillon State Hospital, as well as glass and film negatives from the Massillon School of Nursing on the grounds, which may be viewed here. Reproductions of these images are available upon request. Prices may be found here.

How do I find my relatives who lived at the Massillon State Hospital?

Unfortunately those records do not appear to exist any longer. The former State Hospital grounds are owned in part by the City of Massillon and by Heartland Behavioral Center. Heartland only holds patient records for the last 10 years, and are not available to the public. The Massillon Museum does not have any records of residents.

You may also wish to read the Mental Health Records: An Introduction for Researchers by the Ohio History Connection.

Another way to track down your relatives' information is through the Stark County Recorder's Office. There is a complete listing of places to obtain vital information, including birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates. Please click here to visit their site.


For more information contact Archivist Mandy Pond over the phone: 330-833-4061, or via email.

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