The Spring Grove Cottage for “Colored Women” is believed to be the first mental hospital built specifically to house African American psychiatric patients in the state of Maryland. This two-story historic building was first created in March of 1906.
During the era of Jim Crow, there were not many psychiatric hospitals for people of color. Furthermore, African American psychiatric patients were usually segregated into separate facilities from whites, and according to the American Psychiatric Association, Maryland state hospitals did not desegregate until 1963.
This photograph was taken around 1908, when the building was initially known as the “Cottage for Colored Women”. At the entrance of this building are what appears to be nine African American psychiatric patients. Standing next to them is an individual who, based on her wardrobe, seems to be a nurse or caretaker. According to the Spring Grove annual report of 1906, the upper floor of this building was used as sleeping quarters, while the lower floor of the building was used for dining. The building also included a sitting room. According to the Maryland Department of Health, early records reveal that this cottage held a total of 25 African American female patients, a large number given the limited size of the cottage.
In 1913, African American psychiatric patients were transferred from Spring Grove Cottage to Crownsville State Hospital. The Crownsville facility was initially known as “The Hospital for the Negro Insane of Maryland” in 1910 and was later renamed the “Crownsville State Hospital” in 1912. Subsequently, the building that was once known as the “Cottage for Colored Women” was renamed the “TB Cottage” with the purpose of housing white female patients suffering from the disease of tuberculosis.
The Spring Grove Cottage was later demolished, and a lawn shop now stands in the spot of this old historic building.