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CITY OF BOSTON.
OFFICE OF THE
BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS,
To the Honorable the City Council of Boston:
GENTLEMEN: The Board of Directors for Public Institutions with pleasure respond to the order of the City Council of November 11th, in reference to the site for a new Lunatic Hospital.
The conclusions here presented are the result of careful investigations and the deliberate convictions consequent upon persistent inquiry, and the most authentic information they have been able to obtain. They have examined a large number of locations, and have heretofore presented their views in communications and reports to the City Council, most of which will be found among City Documents.
They refer to those with confidence, and learn with great satisfaction that on the question of the necessity for a new hospital for the insane there is now no difference of opinion among those who have given the subject attention. The need for new, ample, and more suitable accommodations is conceded to be imperative and most urgent. The only point now to be considered is that of the most suitable location; and in relation to this question, the Directors beg leave to submit the following
For nearly eight years, the members of this Board have had the subject directly or indirectly under consideration. Four
years ago last May, by order of the City Council, they were required to select and recommend a suitable location. They advertised, and numerous proposals were received. From the sites offered, they found no difficulty in reducing the choice to one of three: Parker's Hill in Roxbury, the Codman Estate in Dorchester, and Winthrop Farm in Winthrop.
To the choice of these they gave the most careful and earnest attention. After repeated examinations and mature considerations, they finally selected the estate in Winthrop. Having made their own election, they then submitted the matter to the judgment of several physicians experienced in the treatment of insanity, and were gratified to find their decision indorsed and confirmed by the best available professional opinion. (See City Document No. 75, 1868. Appendix A.)
Upon the report of the directors to the government, the purchase of the farm was ordered by the unanimous vote of the City Council, all the members having had the opportunity of personal observation.
The following are among the considerations that led to the selection of Winthrop Farm:
This location contains one hundred and thirty acres of upland, and fifty acres of salt marsh, being amply sufficient for present purposes. The farm has been examined by competent judges, and pronounced to contain a soil not excelled in Suffolk County. The entire cost was twenty-eight thousand dollars. By disposing of the marsh land at sixty dollars per acre, a very low price, the amount would be reduced to twenty-five thousand dollars, as the cost of the hospital site.
This farm is so situated that it can never be annoyed by set
tlements in close proximity. This is a particularly valuable feature in the selection of a site for an asylum for the insane and in this respect the Winthrop site exceeds all others which have been named. The requisite quiet and seclusion can here be maintained without interruption, from its natural position. The public would escape the annoyances incident to the presence of the insane in their midst, which no care on the part of the management could prevent.
Access will be very easy by both steam and the contemplated horse-rail. Less than one hour will be required by either method in reaching the hospital. It will be as favorably situated in this respect as either of the other sites. A wharf can also be had for the landing and storing of heavy supplies, within one mile.
The views from Winthrop Farm cannot be surpassed. The landscapes are very fine, and the great and near sea-view is one of rare excellence. The beneficial effect of these upon the insane is one of great value as a curative measure; and this has been long and fully demonstrated to a limited extent at South Boston.
The future needs of this community will call for a larger hospital. There are on the Winthrop Farm two considerable eminences, either of which is eligible for a building site. Whenever the wants of the city shall require an increase of accommodations, another building can be placed on the second hill, by which a separation of the sexes can be made, and thus more perfect classification be secured.
This place is larger than desirable, and will require much grading. There is also the inducement and the danger that other institutions will be placed there. This would greatly injure it as a retreat for the insane. The cost is too great, in our judgment, and the difference should be expended on the structure. All the objections that have been urged against the Winthrop Farm hold equally good against Breed's Island.
The Codman Estate in Dorchester is represented to contain about sixty acres. This would be contracted in area and too expensive. Any future extension would involve a large expenditure. The Mansion House increases the cost without adding to its value, for the reason that it must be removed to allow the erection of the new structure. Building improvements in that vicinity must soon encroach upon the land, and thus preclude the growth of the hospital conveniences.
The landscape and marine views are far inferior to those at Winthrop. The necessary seclusion cannot be maintained, and therefore the demand for the removal of the hospital would render doubtful the permanence of the institution. The grading of the Codman Estate would be more expensive than at Winthrop, and even then it would be less advantageous for a location.
The relative cost of the Winthrop Estate, when compared with the others which have been recommended, proves it to be the most economical and cheapest. The Codman Estate is valued at $100,000. Breed's Island at $250,000; while the Winthrop Farm is already the property of the city at the moderate cost of $28,000,- the great difference in cost being a matter of no little importance.