I have been researching the remarkable history of the Florida State Hospital at Chattahoochee for several years. Originally called the Florida Asylum for the Indigent Insane, but more commonly called “Chattahoochee” by long-time Floridians, I came to know of the hospital’s existence back in the 1960s when I first moved to Florida. Its reputation at that time was . . . well. . . pretty bad, but in reality not so different than most asylums around the country. But what Chattahoochee had that most other asylums didn’t was its amazing history.
From a federal arsenal during the Second Seminole and Civil Wars, to Freedman’s Bureau, to Florida’s first state penitentiary (there are stories here that will curl your hair), and finally to the asylum, the Florida State Hospital has a remarkable past–some that produced scenes one could only find in a horror movie. And, when you move into the 1900s, the story really gets interesting with political scandals, patient abuse, use of treatments such as ECT and lobotomies, and the incarceration of thousands of men, women and children who weren’t really insane at all.
Out of Mind, Out of Sight will reveal for the first time, the entire history of the facility set against the backdrop of the evolution of the country’s mental health care system, from institutional care to community-based treatment centers. And, it will bring you up to date with those who currently occupy the facility–forensic patients, those who have been convicted of a crime but who are considered mentally ill and not competent to stand trial.
I’d love to hear from anyone with connections to the facility.