north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Mental health care in North Carolina can be traced to Dorothea Dix’s appeals to the legislature in 1848 and the opening in 1856 of the hospital in Raleigh that bears her name. Extension of that work led to the creation of what is now Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro in 1880 and present Broughton Hospital in Morganton in 1883. Prior to the opening of the latter institutions the state paid counties $100 annually per individual for care of the mentally ill. In 1874 Marine Hospital in Wilmington was temporarily designated as the site for care of black citizens with mental problems; others were housed in Raleigh, Tarboro, and Goldsboro.

     In 1878 the state purchased from William T. Dortch 171 acres two miles west of Goldsboro for a hospital to serve “exclusively for the accommodation, maintenance, care, and treatment of the colored insane of the state.” The site was selected in part because it was near the center of the state’s black population. For eighty-five years the hospital served the black citizens of all 100 counties. Originally known as the “Asylum for the Colored Insane,” the institution enrolled its first patient on August 1, 1880. The first superintendent, Dr. William Moore, answered to a board of nine directors.

     The institution’s name was changed to the Eastern North Carolina Insane Asylum, then to the State Hospital at Goldsboro, and in 1959 to Cherry Hospital to honor R. Gregg Cherry, governor of North Carolina from 1945 to 1949. A commission study in 1937 sharply criticized care at the mental hospitals in the state. Most of the older buildings, including one designed by A. G. Bauer, were replaced in the 1930s and 1940s. The hospital remained segregated until 1965 when, to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the state’s mental institutions were integrated. Cherry Hospital was designated to serve all races in thirty-three eastern North Carolina counties. Some black patients were transferred to other hospitals and whites were moved into Cherry.

Laws and Resolutions of the State of North Carolina (1874/75-1883, 1959)
Dorothy Long, ed., Medicine in North Carolina (1972)
A Study of Mental Health in North Carolina (1937)
Maurice H. Greenhill, “Present Status of Mental Health in North Carolina,” North Carolina Medical Journal (January 1945): 7-22
Sarah Manning Pope and Emily Newman Weil, Postcards of Old Wayne County (1995)

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north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources