Formerly known as the Eastern Maine Insane Asylum, and the Bangor Mental Health Institute, the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor, Maine, opened its doors on July 1, 1901. The Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center was built on a hill overlooking Bangor city and the Penobscot River named Hepatica Hill after its flowers. The hospital was designed by John Calvin Steves and was built in stages between 1896 and 1935. The first name change of the hospital came in 1913 when the name changed to Bangor State Hospital and then Bangor Mental Health Institute in the 1970s. In 2005, the name was again changed to its current name: the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center.
In less than a week in 1901, 145 patients were transferred from the Maine insane Hospital in Augusta, Maine. The hospital was self-sufficient because patients worked fields, raised livestock, and supervised the laundry room, sewing room, and kitchen as part of their treatment. This practice was stopped in 1973, however, when courts ruled that public institutions could not make patients work without being paid. There were other types of treatments as well. In the early 1900s, there was family-style care before hydrotherapy and electric therapy became popular in the 1930s. If a patient was thought to be incurable, there was little treatment until new medication was created in the 1950s.
The Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center saw its highest patient population in 1970 with 1,200 patients. In the same decade, the hospital began to downsize and reached 470 patients in 1974. In the 1980s, there was about 300 patients.
Today, the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center operates under the Department of Health and Human Services and has 51 beds to help people with mental illness.