Superintendent's House

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Superintendent's House


This is the house now occupied by the Superintendent of the State Hospital for Mental Diseases.  It faces Pontiac Avenue, and was formerly the residence of the Howard family, and later when this estate was sold
to the State for institutional purposes it became the residence of the Superintendent of the State Farm, so-called.  It comprised, at the dates to which I refer, the State Asylum for the Insane, the State Farm, comprising of the House of Correction for men and women, and Oaklawn and Sockanosset Schools. The Superintendent at this period was James H. Eastman, who, with his family, occupied the whole of this house.
This house was formerly used for many years as the monthly meeting place for the State Charities and Corrections.  It has an interesting history, for within its walls, a former Super­intendent of the State Hospital for Mental Diseases, Dr. Sartwell, was shot and slain by an insane patient.
Excerpt from: Scrapbook, c. 1930 of properties at Howard (Accession 1998-121)

It was the infusion of large amounts of federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds that dramatically altered the appearance of the Howard complex and permitted, if briefly, appropriate physical accommodation for patients, inmates, and attendants. Overcrowding has been a chronic problem at Howard and only the large-scale construction program of the WPA could solve it. Despite the building effort of the 1920s, in 1933 the State Hospital, with accommodations for 1,550, housed 2,235 and was labeled the most overcrowded mental hospital in the northeast.
Excerpt from: Historical Preservation Commission’s Statewide Historical Preservation Report P-C-1 on Cranston, 1980

See also:
Cranston: National Register of Historic Places, 1984

Report of the Committee of State Charities and Corrections Upon the State Institutions at Cranston, Made to the Senate, at its January Session, 1883

Report of the Joint Special Committee on the State Asylum for the Insane Made to the General Assembly at its January Session, A.D. 1868

Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission:  Statewide Preservation Reports, 1975 - 1982

Article Written by William F. Gleason, M.D....on a State School for Feeble-Minded Children, 1907

Report of State Commission on Public Welfare Institutions, 1943

Special Legislative Commission to Study the Howard Complex records, 1970-1972

External Related Resources:
Rhode Island Historical Society: Rhode Island State Institutions Records, 1839-1968 (bulk 1885-1944)

Missouri State Archives exhibit- Quest for a Cure: Care and Treatment in Missouri's First State Mental Hospital


Accession 1998-121 - Scrapbook of [Photographs], c. 1930 of properties at Howard (Cranston)


Rhode Island State Archives


c. 1930


Copyright is in the public domain unless otherwise specified. We reserve the right to restrict reproduction of materials due to preservation concerns.





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Rhode Island. State Public Welfare Commission, "Superintendent's House," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #800, (accessed July 16, 2019).