Inspiration for On the Ashes of Riverside

This is the hospital that inspired Riverside. Originally, it was known as East Tennessee Hospital for the insane, and was then renamed Eastern State Hospital. Eventually, the hospital was renamed as Lakeshore Mental Health Institute. It was closed within the past couple of years, a decision that was met with a lot of resentment among the mental health community here in the area.

One point of pride is that Lakeshore was among the first institutions in the nation to house minors in a separate facility, though this only came about sometime in 1972 or 1973.

The postcard below came from a news story that was done by a local news channel back when Lakeshore was closed down.

East Tennessee Hospital for the Insane, later Eastern State Hospital, then Lakeshore.

East Tennessee Hospital for the Insane, later Eastern State Hospital, then Lakeshore.

Most of the buildings have since been torn down. Acutally, the wings that can be seen in the postcard were torn down in the late 70s when all of the reforms were being done, as they were beyond repair, and a fire hazard, to boot. The main administration building, the larger of the buildings on the left, has been left standing.

There’s not really a lot of information avaliable about Lakeshore, and even then, it’s hard to discern what is truth, and what is just rumors and speculation. Most people didn’t know what was going on at the facility while it was in use, and most people were quite content to keep it that way.

The photo on the right comes from the University of Tennessee Library’s Special Collections, courtesy of WBIR.com. It’s the only image I’ve ever seen of the original Kirkbride Plan building. Most people born in the past few decades would never recognize that beautiful building as the Lakeshore hospital they’ve heard the awful stories about.

I always think that it’s interesting to see what has inspired the ideas behind stories, so I just thought I would share this. Also, I feel that it’s just a very interesting subject, along with an important part of the history of the area, but that’s just me!

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