|Location:||Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA|
|Operation Time:||1861 - Present|
The plans for a mental hospital in Alabama began in 1852, and it was to be part of the popular Kirkbride Plan (popularized by Dorothea Dix and Thomas Story Kirkbride, who were also the main advocates for the hospital), and it would feature what was called "moral architecture".
The hospital was the first ever building in Tuscaloosa to actually feature gas lighting and a central head. It was originally entitled the Alabama Insane Hospital, and opened for use in 1861. The facility was later named for 27-year-old psychiatric doctor Peter Bryce, which made it Bryce Hospital.
Bryce believed in treating his patients with courtesy, kindness, and respect - a new approach towards treating insane patients. He removed the use of shackles, straitjackets, and other restraints in 1882. From 1872 to the early 1880s, some of the patients wrote and edited their own newspaper, The Meteor. These documents now provide an insight to what life was like in a 19th century asylum.
In the 20th century, as the patient population grew, the hospital's standards in care decreased. Lurleen Wallace, the governor of Alabama at the time, visited the hospital in February of 1967. When she visited, a mentally challenged nine-year-old tried to hug her, meanwhile crying "Mama!" Mama". It moved the governor to tears, leading her to ask her husband, George Wallace (who had the actual power behind his wife's governorship), to fund the hospital.
In 1970, Alabama was ranked last among U.S. states in funding for mental health. Bryce Hospital now had 5,200 patients living in what was described as "concentration camp conditions" by the editor of the Montgomery Advertiser. Due to cigarette tax taking away from mental health funding, one hundred employees were fired.
Later that year in October, fifteen-year-old Ricky Wyatt, who had been labeled as a "juvenile delinquent" and lived at Bryce Hospital although he had no mental illness, settled a lawsuit against the hospital. W. C. Rawlins, Ricky's aunt, was one of the employees who lost their jobs. They were against the terrible conditions and treatments that were used only to make the patients manageable.
The lawsuit, in 1971, expanded to include the patients of Searcy Hospital and Camp Partlow, two other mental hospitals in Alabama. The court created agreements to form federal minimum standards in care of people with mental illnesses in institutions.
A new settlement agreement was made to recognize a great deal of progress in 1999. The case was dismissed by Judge Myron Thompson on December 5th, 2003. The standards in the agreement serve as a model nationwide known as "Wyatt Standards".
When it comes to the hauntings of the old Bryce Hospital, odd writings on the walls (including a lot of graffiti), strange noises, and cold spots seem to occur. There is also the feeling of being watched in several parts of the hospital. A few reports of telephones ringing (the hospital has no active phone number), furniture being moved on its own, footsteps in empty hallways, and strange cold and hot temperature swings in different spots.
Creepy but True
|Most doctors during the 19th and 20th century were more insane than the patients they treated, often conducting barbaric experiments and treatments on their helpless victims. Such cases are found at Dorea Asylum and other old mental hospitals.|
- Bryce Hospital - Wikipedia
- Bryce Hospital - Wikimedia Commons
- Bryce Hospital - Ghostly World
- Bryce Hospital - Forgotten USA