[cont'd.] back to health. Both the location and the physical
design of the building were intended to enhance the
therapeutic effect of the hospital. Set on a hill a mile
west of the town center, it was surrounded by expansive
grounds and afforded a beautiful view of the
Connecticut River valley. Such a setting, it was hoped,
would provide respite from the outside world while
contributing to the physical health and vigor of the
patient. The building consisted of a central
administrative core with the patient wards extending in
wings to either side. The "fatherly" superintendent, who
lived and worked in the center, would exercise a
constant personal influence over each of his charges.
Up to two hundred and fifty patients at a time, it was
believed, could benefit from the close personal contact
essential to "moral treatment".
The early history of the Northampton Lunatic
Hospital is closely linked with Pliny Earle, who served
as superintendent from 1864 to 1885. Dedicated and
able, he came to Northampton with decades of...