Trenton Psychiatric Hospital – An Abandoned Institution In New Jersey

Trenton State Hospital

Trenton Psychiatric Hospital is a mental hospital run by the state of New Jersey and located in Trenton. It was opened in 1848 and used the previous names New Jersey State Hospital at Trenton and New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum. It was the first institution built under the Kirkbride plan. The main building consisted of accommodation for the staff, offices, chapel, kitchens, six female wards, six male wards and rooms to treating patients. The state decreed that no patient could stay any shorter than 6 months.

The first extension came in 185 when accommodation was added to house a further 250 patients. A museum and reading room were added shortly after, followed by an exercise room and ten-pin bowling alley. In 1958, a laundry building was added and in 1863, the main building was extended adding capacity for a further 200 patients. Overcrowding was still a problem though and in 1876, some of the patients were moved to a newly opened facility in Morristown. It did little to alleviate the overcrowding problems and another new building, intended mainly for chronic and incurable cases was opened in 1889. Over time a number of other buildings and extensions were added including a school for training nurses and scientific laboratories.

By 1954 there were 4237 people in the hospital but with the increasing use of medication for mental illness, that number began to drop and wards were closed. As patient numbers decreased over time, more and more of the buildings in the complex were closed off and today there is capacity for only 376 patients.

The hospital became the subject of much debate, notably at first under the directorship of Dr Henry Cotton who believed infection was the cause of mental illness. Dr Cotton actually came from the Danvers State Hospital which we’ve featured here on World Abandoned before. Under his instruction, infected body parts were removed from hospital patients and teeth were routinely pulled out. In fact, teeth were still being removed from patients until the 1960s and in some instances, even if x-rays showed no infection. The cure rate was said to be 85% however the mortality rate was extremely high and he didn’t always have permission to perform the surgeries. There was a riot in the 1960s which let to the abandonment of one building in the complex.

Location: Trenton, New Jersey, USA

Category: Hospital

Abandoned: Still in operation

Trenton Psychiatric Hospital

Trenton State Hospital hallway

Trenton State Hospital



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