Austin State Hospital

Coordinates: 30°18′26.64″N 97°44′13.92″W / 30.3074000°N 97.7372000°W / 30.3074000; -97.7372000
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Austin State Hospital
The former State Lunatic Asylum is now the administration building for the Austin State Hospital campus.
Location4110 Guadalupe
Austin, Texas, USA
Coordinates30°18′26.64″N 97°44′13.92″W / 30.3074000°N 97.7372000°W / 30.3074000; -97.7372000
ArchitectCharles Payne
Architectural styleClassical Revival
NRHP reference No.87002115
RTHL No.15648
TSAL No.598
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 4, 1987
Designated RTHL1966
Designated TSAL7/20/1999

Austin State Hospital (ASH), formerly known until 1925 as the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, is a 299-bed psychiatric hospital located in Austin, Texas. It is the oldest psychiatric facility in the state of Texas, and the oldest continuously operating west of the Mississippi River.[2] It is operated by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.[3]


Austin State hospital offers psychiatric services for children, adolescents, and adults. These individuals may be struggling with one or more challenges within a broad range of mental illnesses and developmental or intellectual disabilities.[4] This hospital offers acute, short-term care in the form of crisis stabilization with the goal of reintegration into society and the transition to long-term outpatient care.[5]


Establishment and early years[edit]

The Texas State Lunatic Asylum was chartered by the Texas Legislature on August 28, 1856. The Act set aside $50,000 in U.S. bonds for the construction of a suitable building. The Governor was authorized to appoint a commission of three men to select a site of between 50 and 100 acres for the asylum, and to appoint a physician to serve as Superintendent at a salary of $2,000 per year and $10,000 in U.S. bonds was set aside for operations of the facility.[6] Gov. Elisha M. Pease appointed Dr. J. C. Perry as the first Superintendent on May 27, 1857.[7] He was replaced by Dr. C. G. Keenan on February 13, 1858.[7]

Sam Houston was elected governor in 1859 and appointed Dr. Beriah Graham as Superintendent on January 9, 1860.[7] It was during Dr. Graham's tenure that the Main Building was completed and opened for patients on March 11, 1861.[7] Five days later, Gov. Houston resigned, and his successor, Gov. Edward Clark, re-appointed Dr. Keenan. Dr. Keenan served for about seven months until a new governor was elected later that year.

Gov. Francis Lubbock appointed Dr. J. M. Steiner as Superintendent on November 1, 1861.[7]


At the beginning of the 20th century, patients began to work on nearby farms during harvest season as part of their daily tasks to establish a sense of routine and serve as free labor for local farmers.[8]

In 1925, the name of the facility changed from the Texas State Lunatic Asylum to the Austin State Hospital to reflect developing attitudes surrounding mental health care at the time.[9]

By the 1950s, the hospital had made several recreational activities available to their patients. Residents played sports and were able to attend movie nights, dances, and religious services.[8]

Between 1958 and 1965, the hospital gradually desegregated all of their admissions process and services by gender and race.[8]

The daily average population of patients peaked in 1968 at approximately 3,313. By 1990, the daily average had dropped to 518 patients.[8]

In 1993, operation of the hospital was transferred to the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.[8]

Present day[edit]

Building renovations[edit]

Since 2015, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin have been collaborating to improve conditions at the Austin State Hospital by organizing committees of regional stakeholders and working to focus operational budgets to secure the highest and most personal levels of care.[10]

As a response to this influence and to an increasing demand for comprehensive mental health services due to complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas Legislature approved $745 million for the renovation and improvement of Texas psychiatric facilities in the 85th and 86th Legislative sessions.[10] Construction on the facility is currently in progress, and the fully renovated hospital is expected to open in June 2024.[11]

The Old Main Building, a portion of the original institution, remains intact as a Texas Historic Landmark.[12]

As of March 2022, the newly renovated facility covers 375,000 square feet and contains 240 private patient bedrooms.[13]

Support organizations[edit]

Austin State Hospital's Volunteer Services Council (VSC) is a 501(c)(3) corporation. The VSC conducts fundraiser and donation programs and helps build community awareness about mental illness and the role of Austin State Hospital in the treatment of mental illness.



  1. ^ "ASH History | Texas Health and Human Services". Retrieved June 14, 2023.
  2. ^ "Project Will Help Preserve Aging Austin State Hospital Records | Texas Health and Human Services". Retrieved June 14, 2023.
  3. ^ "State Hospitals | Texas Health and Human Services". Retrieved June 14, 2023.
  4. ^ "Austin State Hospital | Texas Health and Human Services". Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  5. ^ "Austin State Hospital - Austin State Hospital". Mental Health TX. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  6. ^ "Texas Lunatic Asylum". Texas State Gazette. November 22, 1856.
  7. ^ a b c d e Clay, W. J. (1904). Statistical Report 1904. Austin, Texas: Von Boeckmann-Jones. p. 190.
  8. ^ a b c d e "TSHA | Austin State Hospital". Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  9. ^ Richardson, Todd. "Muffled Voices of the Past: History, Mental Health, and HIPAA" (PDF). Intersect: Perspectives in Texas Public History: 27–35.
  10. ^ a b "ASH Brain Health System Redesign". ASH Brain Health System Redesign. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  11. ^ "Changes to Texas State Hospitals | Texas Health and Human Services". Retrieved June 14, 2023.
  12. ^ Villalpando, Nicole. "University of Texas' Hogg Foundation funding preservation of Austin State Hospital records". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  13. ^ "Austin's new psychiatric hospital: Which problems it'll help, which ones it won't". KXAN Austin. March 24, 2022. Retrieved May 11, 2022.

External links[edit]