The Hill


At 5400 Arsenal Street is the huge structure housing the Missouri State Hospital, formerly known ats the City Sanitarium. No provision was made for local care for the indigent insane until 1864, when it was considered by the County Court. A site on elevated ground on Arsenal Road, west of Kingshighway, was chosen and plans for the building were prepared by architect William Rumbold. It was first occupied on April 23, 1869, with a capacity of 250 patients. A five-story central structure was flanked on each side by four-story wings which were terminated by five-story end pavilions. A cast iron dome, 194 feet in height, surmounted the central section. At the rear was an open portico for the full height of the main building, affording an outdoor promenade for the patients. At that time, the boiler room, laundry, kitchen and officers' quarters were in a brick building about one hundred feet distant from the main structure, and connected to it by a tunnel. An artesian well, 3845 feet deep, was drilled on the grounds. Total construction cost was about $700.000.

By 1881, the institution was woefully overcrowded, as it then had 343 patients. In 1910, the name was changed from insane Asylum to City Sanitarium. Extensive additional wings were added in 1912, increasing the institution's capacity to 2,000.

By 1914, the grounds covered 57 acres, total floor space was nine acres and the overall building cost was $1,539,000.

The employees' building at Arsenal and Brannon was completed in 1926 and in the 1950's new laundry and industrial buildings were ercted. A receiving warehouse was added in 1968 and in 1975, the juvenile treatment center on Fyler Avenue was opened. Originally a county facility, the sanitarium came under City control in 1876 and became a state institution in 1948.

Another old institution in this area is the Harry S. Truman Restorative Center at 5700 Arsenal Street, which adopted its present name in in 1974. Its lineage can be traced back to the old County Poor Farm and Hospital, which occupied the former Kemper College buildings in 1845. This was located near the present site of Southwest High School. About 1870, a larger building was completed at what is now 5800 Arsenal Street and this building came to be known later as the City Infirmary. Several additional buildings were added to it between 1900 and 1920, two of these are presently occupied by Cemrel. In 1953, the institution was renamed as the St. Louis Chronic Hospital. Another part of the hospital group was the former Isolation Hospital at 5600 Arsenal Street, which was built in 1926. A new building at 5700 Arsenal was added in 1965. The old 1870 structure is now partially used as a center for senior citizens. Cemrel, Inc. purchased the two old hospital buildings at 5900 Arsenal and has renovated them for use as an educational laboratory. They represent an outstanding example of successful recycling of older structures.

Present Sublette Park was formerly the grounds of the old Female Hospital. This institution was built in 1873 as the Social Evil Hospital, for the treatment of social outcasts. By 1875, it was used exclusively for female patients. It was a four-story mansard roof building, that was built at a cost of $100,000. About 1914, the structure was razed and its grounds became the park.

The Missouri State School for Retarded Children at 5701 Wilson Avenue was opened in 1970.

At 3211 Sublette Avenue is the Hillcrest Abbey, or Missouri Crematory and Columbarium. It was established in 1897 and a new mausoleum was added in 1959.

In 1936, the Hampton District police station was completed.

Image- The Present Day Missouri State Hospital as it looked in 1875.
Image- Isolation Hospital in 1926.
Image- The Wheeler School on Wilson Avenue.