The Curative Powers of Nature Historical

The Curative Powers of Nature Historical (HM1WFJ)

Location: Washington, DC 20020
Country: United States of America

N 38° 51.417', W 76° 59.758'

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An East-of-the-River View

—Anacostia Heritage Trail —

The Fence and wall ahead of you, on either side of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, enclose historic St. Elizabeths Hospital. The pioneering facility opened in 1855 to treat mentally ill members of the armed forces and DC residents. At a time when the mentally ill were ignored or locked away, the prominent Bostonian social reformer Dorothea Lynde Dix persuaded Congress to fund the nation's first public institution to provide them with treatment.

President Millard Fillmore appointed Dr. Charles H. Nichols to head the new Government Hospital for the Insane. Together Nichols and Dix chose this beautiful spot away from the city because they believed in the curative powers of nature.

During the Civil War (1861-1865) the hospital treated ill and injured soldiers, both Union and Confederate, who preferred to call it "St. Elizabeths," an old name for the property. Congress made the change permanent in 1916. The East Campus, across the avenue, was added in 1869, when the government bought Shepherd Farm to raise food for staff and patients. For nearly a century, the hospital was practically self-sufficient.

St. Elizabeths' patient population peaked at close to 8,000 in the 1940s. After World War II, many patients went to new veterans' hospitals or received treatment in residential settings. The DC government
provided mental health services on the the West Campus from 1987 until 2004. Redevelopment began in 2011.

Old maps show many names for this street. Originally Bladensburg-Piscataway Road, it became known as Asylum Road once the hospital opened. In 1872 it was renamed Nichols Avenue for the hospital's first superintendent. A century later it became Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue to honor the slain civil rights leader.
Placed ByAnacostia Heritage Trail
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 at 5:01pm PST -08:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 326810 N 4302795
Decimal Degrees38.85695000, -76.99596667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 51.417', W 76° 59.758'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 51' 25.02" N, 76° 59' 45.48" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)202
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2649-2651 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE, Washington DC 20020, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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