Hospital houses an evocative museum


January 16, 2001|By Debra Taylor Young | Debra Taylor Young,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A LONELY BUILDING at Springfield Hospital Center evokes an eerie feeling, but is home to a huge 20-room museum that shows the history of the facility that once was a bustling city within a small rural community.

The grand Hubner Building, like others surrounding it, is mostly empty and needs repair.

Museum visitors must ring a bell at the front door to be admitted by one of the volunteer staff.

Edna Harrison, a lifetime resident of Sykesville, is a volunteer. Harrison worked at the hospital for 30 years beginning in 1959, and remembers many changes through the years.

In its heyday during the 1950s, Springfield housed as many as 3,400 patients and was the largest employer in Carroll County, Harrison said.

Founded in 1896, the hospital, once the summer estate and working farm of William Patterson, was named "The Second Hospital for the Insane of Maryland." It sat on 3,000 acres in what was once considered a remote area of Maryland.

The working farm began to house the mentally ill, who worked at tasks that supported the hospital and their needs, such as farming, laundry, canning produce and preparing meals for 3,000 patients and numerous staff.

Also on the grounds, the hospital had police and fire departments, a chapel, morgue and cemetery. It owned a locomotive that delivered coal to heat its buildings.

Dentists had offices on the grounds, and the facility included a hospital where surgery could be performed.

Cottages on the grounds off Route 32 were homes for the medical staff because housing in the surrounding rural area was limited.

Many artifacts for patient treatment are displayed in the museum, including patient restraints and devices for electroshock therapy.

The museum also contains many photographs depicting patients at their duties. According to Harrison, the farming operation was phased out during the early 1960s, leaving the hospital to depend on outside sources for many of its necessities.

"Because patients' rights became an issue, the patients were no longer required to work at the hospital," she said.

Harrison said the museum was founded by registered nurse Barbara Kelly. Kelly worked at the hospital and, on her days off, collected the artifacts, with help from Darla Walton, also a Springfield employee. They visited other museums to learn how to set up displays.

The museum opened in January 1996.

The Hubner Building will become the site of the Maryland State Police Training Facility. Harrison did not know whether the museum would be relocated.

The museum will be open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Groups can set up a tour by calling 410-795-2100. The schedule is available at that number.

Raising teen-agers

Oklahoma Road Middle School on Oklahoma Road in Sykesville is offering a workshop for parents of teens from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 7. Fees are $12 or $18 for two people registering together. Registration: 410-751-3600.

Ski and snowboard trip

St. Joseph's Catholic Community on Liberty Road in Eldersburg is sponsoring a ski and snowboard trip Jan. 27 to Ski Liberty. All high school students are welcome. Permission slips and details about the trip are available by calling 410- 795-7838, or by stopping by the Youth Ministry Office.

Basketball open gym night

St. Joseph's Catholic Community on Liberty Road in Eldersburg is offering open gym night for high school students from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Feb. 2.

A signed permission slip and high school identification are required.

Permission slips will be available at the gym that night.

Information: 410-795-7838.

Debra Taylor Young's Southeast neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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