The inmates of the Maryland Insane Hospital, we’re told, were exceedingly well-housed, well -clothed and well-fed. The hospital’s menu was lauded as an example of dietary excellence. According to a 1918 issue of Dietotherapy, inmates enjoyed such gustatory delights as beef tea, lemonade and, when cost did not prohibit it, fish on Fridays.
Such wholesome comestibles were rare in a time that saw egregious abuse of the mentally ill. But Maryland Insane Hospital was one of the most modern institutions of its kind. Now known as the Spring Grove Hospital Center, the hospital was established chiefly as a result of the lifelong individual efforts of Richard Spring Steuart, a Maryland physician and early pioneer in the treatment of mental illness. From its inception the asylum was the very picture of the well-managed institution. In 1884 the chairman of Maryland’s Joint Committee on Public Institutions found the asylum “in excellent condition,” a state which, he wrote, “reflects great credit upon its officers.”