This institution was originally founded in pursuance of an act of the legislature passed April 28, 1870, establishing at Middletown, in Orange county, a state lunatic asylum for “the care and treatment of the insane and the inebriate upon the principles of medicine known as homœopathic.” The movement, however, which led to the ultimate establishment of the hospital had its inception in the address of John Stanton Gould before the State Homœopathic Medical Society at its session in Albany in February, 1866. The subject of the orator’s discourse was “The Relation of Insanity to Bodily Disease,” and in the course of his remarks attention was called to the necessity of a new state asylum for lunatic’s in the southern tier counties of the state, and claimed as a matter of justice that when organized the institution should be placed under the homœopathic school of medicine.
This seems to have been the crystallizing point of the earnest desire of the homœopathic profession throughout the state, for at the next meeting of the state society in February, 1867, a resolution was offered by Dr. Paine of Albany to the effect that “Whereas, a bill authorizing the erection of a new lunatic asylum is now pending before the legislature,” therefore a committee should be appointed to prepare a memorial asking “for such action as shall place said institution under the care of the homœopathic school.”
But notwithstanding the laudable efforts of the advocates of the enterprise and their apparent zeal for its consummation, nothing was accomplished until some years afterward. In the meantime, however, Dr. Hilon Doty had come forward with a proposition to turn over his private asylum, “Margarettsville Retreat for the Insane,” to a board of trustees or managers of an incorporated institution under homœopathic control, and while an act of incorporation was secured in 1869 through the influence of the state medical society, nothing was done until December of that year, when Dr. George E. Foote of Middletown presented to the homœopathic profession a plan to establish an insane asylum, founded by subscription and endowment, and organized as a close corporation. This proposition met with favor, and sufficient subscriptions were received to insure success, but it soon became necessary to give the institution a more public character and to enlist state support. Accordingly, it was planned to make it a state asylum ; the time was deemed ripe for such a movement, and the governor in his last message had pointed out the need of better and more accommodations for the insane charges upon the public bounty. The friends of the movement were quick to see their opportunity and threw themselves earnestly into the work, leaving no stone unturned until their desires were gratified in the passage of an act, April 28, 1870, establishing a state lunatic asylum at Middletown under homœopathic management. It was not the first homœopathic asylum in the world, as has been asserted, but was the first of its kind in America under purely homœopathic management. It was formally opened for patients, April 20, 1874. The name was changed in conformity to the provisions of an act of the legislature, and then became known as Middletown State Homœopathic Hospital.
Reference: Excerpted from “Homeopathy In New York” by Thomas Lindsley Bradford, M.D.,
History of Homeopathy and Its Institutions In America by William Harvey Kings, M.D., LL.D.