The Main Building

Introduction   |   The Main Building   |   The Cottages
The Medical Examination Building   |   The North Building

The main building featured a number of wards for different patients. Superintendents wished to create a sense of home life for the patients, and the building featured sitting rooms, solariums and balconies where they could relax. Patients in the main building were separated into paid and free wards. Patients who were able could pay between $1.50 and $2.75 per week for more comfortable surroundings and even private rooms. However, in 1871 only 4% of patients paid any fees.

Male and female patients lived apart, usually in dormitory-style rooms, but there were chances to socialize. The building featured a large dining area, where patients could eat together or receive visitors, an amusement hall, where church services were held until the chapel was built in 1884, and even a library, stocked with suitable material. These leisure spaces could be used by patients who had permission to move around the Asylum without chaperones. Other patients, such as those in the North Building, had to be supervised or were confined to their wards.

The building was surrounded by airing grounds, where patients could spend their time walking outside. Small balconies had been added at the end of some inner hallways to increase ventilation and sunlight and, in 1909, three storey balconies were built on each side of the main building for patients and visitors. By the mid-20th century most patients were living in small private rooms, allowing them their own living space. After the erection of the medical exam building, the main building housed only chronic wards, which were populated by long-term patients.