While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


James W. Markham

WICHITA FALLS STATE HOSPITAL. The Wichita Falls State Hospital for the mentally ill is seven miles southwest of the business district of Wichita Falls. The hospital was established as the Northwest Texas Insane Asylum by an act of the Thirty-fifth Legislature in 1917, and the first patients were admitted on January 31, 1922. Overseen by the Board for Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools, the institution received white mental patients from sixty-two counties in northwest Texas. The institution was laid out on the "cottage plan" with completely equipped medium-sized wards. A chicken ranch, hog ranch, ice plant, dairy, laundry, mattress factory, power plant, and florist building were also maintained. A chapel, built in 1938, was the center of patients' recreational and religious activities. An occupational therapy building was also constructed in 1938. A replacement program for patients was begun in January 1944. In 1945 the hospital had 1,072 male patients and 1,280 female patients. Total capacity was 2,485 patients. In 1951 the Vernon State Home in Vernon was activated as a branch of the Wichita Falls State Hospital, and in 1964 it cared for an average of 431 aged psychotic patients. Daily census of the two institutions in 1967 was 2,359. An outpatient clinic operated to provide follow-up care for the patients furloughed or discharged from the hospital. The Texas Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1965 abolished the Board for Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools, deemphasizing residence in institutions. In 1969 the Wichita Falls unit had 1,950 patients, while the Vernon Center had 275. That same year, the Vernon Center was designated a state mental hospital and separated from the Wichita Falls unit, and a community center for mental health and intellectual disability services was established at Wichita Falls. Also that year the treatment program at Wichita Falls State Hospital was expanded by the addition of special programs for geriatric and intellectually disabled patients, a new physical therapy department, an outpatient clinic for children under ten years old, and a new outpatient clinic at Mineral Wells. The training program for professional staff was also expanded. The average daily census for 1970 was 1,348. The institutional policy change was reflected in the number of residence and community center patients after 1970. The hospital had 991 patients in 1976, 500 in 1986, and 480 in 1992. The community center had 806 patients in 1976, 2,400 in 1986, and 1,800 in 1992.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, James W. Markham, "WICHITA FALLS STATE HOSPITAL," accessed May 26, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/sbw03.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on June 5, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...