Patton State Hospital

For years, this institution was known only as "The Insane Asylum". Prior to its construction in 1890, there were only two state institutions in Southern California: the Reform School at Whittier, and the State Normal School at Los Angeles. No doubt this condition was alleviated by the elevation of R. W. Waterman of San Bernardino to the governorship...

Image of Patton State Hospital - 1900
Patton State Hospital - 1900

During the session of the Legislature of 1889, a bill was introduced and passed providing for the erection of the insane asylum in one of the five southern counties of the state and a board of commissioners, one from each of the counties, was appointed. Joseph Brown was commissioner from San Bernardino. The commission finally purchased 360 acres in the Daley Tract at Highland, with 60 inches of water from the North Fork Ditch for $114,000. The appropriation of $350,000 provided for purchase of the site and erection of a main building and north and west wings.

Governor Waterman appointed a Board of Trustees, who selected an architect, superintendent of construction, and contractor. Waterman was present when the cornerstone was laid late in 1890, and the ceremonies were followed by "the most elaborate banquet ever spread in San Bernardino County."1

The hospital opened in 1893 with 100 patients brought from the northern part of the state. By 1904, buildings had been erected to care for 800 inmates.

Today, the institution houses 3,300. The original buildings, pictured above, were demolished after they were badly damaged in the earthquake of 1923. About 1900, the hospital was named "Patton," after Henry W. Patton of Santa Barbara, a member of the Board of Managers of the institution2.

1 Ingersoll, op. cit., p. 179.
2 Gericke, Dr. Otto F., Verbal testimony given to the author.

Map | Table of Contents