Spring Grove Hospital Center – Catonsville, MD

Spring Grove Hospital Center – Catonsville, MD

The Spring Grove Hospital Center Alumni Museum is located on the campus of Spring Grove Hospital Center on the ground floor for easy access.  

The museum’s modest collection includes photographs, records and drawings from throughout the hospital’s history, as well as a small library of hospital-related documents, several pieces of period furniture, early medical equipment, and other objects of interest.

The hospital was founded in 1797 although there had been those working to get the facility financed and approved for a number of years.  It was originally called a “Retreat” rather than a hospital, for ailing mariners in Baltimore. (The term “retreat” had been used in England and America to describe what today might be called sanitariums or infirmaries.).

It served those that had problems ranging from alcohol issues to those that suffered from forms of mental illness.

In addition to treating indigent Maryland citizens and “strangers” (i.e., those without local family or friends) the hospital also continued to treat sick and disabled U.S. seamen for a number of years. In 1814, during the War of 1812, some 234 sick and wounded soldiers were taken to the hospital from the battles that occurred around Baltimore, including the Battle of North Point. In addition, yellow fever patients were treated at the hospital during the several epidemics that occurred between 1798 and 1819.  For example, records indicate that during the yellow fever epidemic of 1819, 145 yellow fever “victims” were admitted to the City Hospital of Baltimore (the then contemporary name for Spring Grove), 85 of whom died.

The state took over the management of the hospital and sent in inspectors that found the buildings to be in such horrid condition that they said, if left alone, there would scarcely be a building left.  In 1836 funds were awarded to make the necessary improvements to the facility to make it habitable for those that were placed in its care.

There were 2 physicians at the hospital in 1836 and nursing services were provided primarily by an order of Catholic nuns; the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.  twelve nuns, three additional male staff members, and three additional female staff members.  The Sisters of Charity and the other female staff members were each paid five dollars a month.  The male staff members were paid ten dollars a month.

As years went by the hospital was becoming more and more rundown until the newspaper of the area started writing articles about the shameful status of the structures thereby forcing the state to begin the rebuilding and upgrading.

At least one of the early Spring Grove structures, theHillcrest Building (also known as the “Criminal Building”) still stands on the campus of UMBC.

The hospital, after new construction, paying higher wages, and all other improvements made to the facility remains in operation today as a psychiatric hospital.

55 Wade Avenue, Catonsville,
Maryland 21228 USA
Phone: 410.402.6000