Volunteer Service Council Terrell State Hospital
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History of Terrell State Hospital


It all began, officially, on February 16, 1883, when the 18th Texas Legislature enacted a statute introduced by Judge John Austin. The word "asylum"--by the original definition--was a place of refuge and safety and that, at best, was the primary service offered by mental facilities in the United States at that time.


Terrell State Hospital admitted its first patient on July 14, 1885. During the first year 330 patients were admitted from 46 counties. The next year the number increased to 387 and continued to increase correspondingly through the years.

By 1920, the institution had undergone a virtual rebuilding and had grown to a population of 2,300 making it the largest hospital of its kind west of the Mississippi River.

None of the original buildings still stand, but the fountain in the circular park remains from the original construction. The plan of the grounds, though much expanded, is similar to the original layout; and the park-like beauty of the grounds has been preserved and enhanced. Constructed in 1927, the present administration building is similar in its multi-storied design to the building it replaced, an indication that hospital architecture changed little
during that span of years.

Since 1885, the institution has had three names that reflect changes both in attitudes toward mental illness and approaches in treatment. The name North Texas Hospital for the Insane was adopted in 1888 and used until 1925 when Dr. George Powell, Superintendent, requested that the name be changed to Terrell State Hospital.

There have been major improvements planned and completed at Terrell State Hospital in recent years at a cost of many millions of dollars. The changes, over a period of years, have transformed this pioneer hospital into a modern psychiatric facility that serves 21 counties in the north and northeastern part of the state.

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We are a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the clients serviced by TSH.


Through fundraisers, donations, and volunteers, we supply services and items that the state cannot supply.

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Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.

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