Barton Building Expands -1879

The Hamilton Asylum for the Insane first opened its doors in 1876. By 1879, the original building (called the Barton building) had been expanded by adding three wings to the original building – one at each end and a third extending from the back of the building. It could now accommodate about 500 patients.

The “1879 Report of the Inspector of Asylums” includes a beautiful etching and excellent description of the Barton building expansion. It was provided to the Inspector by the architect of the Public Works Department. (Report is transcribed below for easier reading.)



“The central portion of this building was designed by the late Mr. Kauffman, Architect, Toronto, in 1873, for an Inebriate Asylum, but was altered to a Lunatic Asylum in 1875, under the directions of the Public Works Department.

The site, consisting of about 96 acres, is on the hill immediately south of the City of Hamilton, and close to the limits, the distance from the City Hall being about two miles.

The centre building consists of a basement, 3 storeys, and mansard roof, the length being 180 feet and width 50 feet.

The wings, which were erected in 1877-8, recede from the front line of the main building, are 135 feet in length by 52 feet in width, four storeys in height including the basement and mansard, each storey being 12 feet in height, except basement and mansard, which are 11 feet.

The wings are connected with the main building at the east and west ends by means of transverse portions 52 feet long by 30 feet in width, 4 storeys in height besides basement.

The style adopted is Modern Gothic, the basement throughout was constructed of stone procured from quarries on the ground, the outside work being of coursed ashlar, and the walls above the basement were built of red bricks with white brick eave courses and arches, the string courses, key-stones, and corbels of windows, etc., being of artificial stone.

An addition about 100 feet by 50 feet, 4 storeys in height, connected by a passage 32 feet by 15 feet to the main building was built in the rear of the central portion.

The single apartments in the central portion are 14 feet long by 10 feet wide, and those in the wings 12 feet long by 6 feet wide. The associated dormitories are in the mansard storey, being 4 in number, 40 feet in length and 14 feet wide.

Each ward has a dining and sitting room, with attendants’ rooms, water-closets, bath and wash rooms, dust and clothes shafts, also lifts to dining rooms.

There is a large dining-room, 56 feet by 47 feet, on the second floor of the rear addition for patients in the main building.

In the basement of the rear addition there is a kitchen with scullery adjoining, bakery, laundry, with lifts from the kitchen and laundry to the upper storeys.

On the first floor, there is a work-room, also the drying and ironing rooms, and in the second and third floors in the rear of the large dining room, and the Amusement Hall, there are rooms for female attendants.

The Amusement Hall in the third storey is the same size as the large dining-room, viz., 56 feet long by 47 feet wide, the height of the former being 22 feet in the centre.

The water is supplied by the City water-works to a large underground tank on Queen Street, from whence it is pumped a height of 185 feet to 4 underground tanks containing about 30,000 gallons, in the rear of the building, and by means of a large pump in the west boiler house it is forced into 5 tanks in the building, which contain about 20,000 gallons for supplying baths, washbasins, etc.

The light is furnished by the Hamilton Gas-light Co.

The sewage is conveyed by tile pipes from the site to the City drain on Queen Street extending to the marsh.

There are separate residences for the Medical Superintendent, Bursar, Engineer and Farmer, also large brick coal shed and farm building.

The Asylum affords accommodation for 500 patients. The total expenditure to 1878 being $272,845.”

(Report images clipped from 1879 “Report of the Inspector of Asylums and Prisons” via Google Books.)

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