Landscape Archaeology at St. Elizabeths Hospital West Campus


St. Elizabeths Hospital was championed by Dorthea Dix as a model hospital for the treatment of the mentally ill. One of the tenants of the moral treatment philosophy, the guiding principle of the initial 40 years of hospital operations, was that access to calm, natural or park-like settings was essential to patients’ recovery. However, as a former plantation and as a working farm through the 1880s, a tension emerged between principles and practicalities. GIS-based modelling and 10 years of archaeological investigations have revealed the history by which this former plantation was remade in the image of a bucolic semi-rural park, and the steps successive administrators implemented to cope with population increase, space constraints, and the natural tendencies of the landform. The St. Elizabeths landscape was not static and evolved into the current form as these cultural and natural factors vied for dominance in the administrator’s decision-making process.

Cite this Record

Landscape Archaeology at St. Elizabeths Hospital West Campus. Geri J Knight-Iske, Paul Kreisa, Nancy L. Powell. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 435083)


Temporal Keywords
1852 to present

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 573