Privett Family Website

Gravesites at the Arkansas State Hospital

According to a death certificate, M.H. "Herman" Privett (father of Frank Privett) passed away February 12, 1920 at the Arkansas State Hospital for Nervous Diseases and was buried in the hospital's cemetery. As with his origins, the location of his final resting place is ambiguous and uncertain, although as described below, his remains are probably either in Little Rock near the Natural Resources Complex (near West Markham Street at I-430) or in the graveyard of the Arkansas Health Center in Benton, AR.

I am providing the following information from my research for others interested in ancestors who were also buried at this facility.

Arkansas State Hospital

The Arkansas State Lunatic Asylum was established by the state legislature in 1873. The administration building and first six wards were completed in 1882 and the first patient was admitted on February 26, 1883. New buildings and a work farm were added over successive years (including replacement buildings after a 1894 tornado) and by 1915 there were 12 buildings. The facility was renamed the "State Hospital for Nervous Diseases" in 1905 and renamed "The Arkansas State Hospital" in 1933.

Given the limited understanding of and treatment for mental illness available in the hospital's early years, the facility basically served as a warehouse for society's unwanted persons. The buildings housed not only folks that we would today consider mentally ill in a strict sense, but also alcoholics, vagrants and even women having emotional difficulty due to menopause. By 1928, the facility was seriously overcrowded and in 1929 the legislature authorized creation of a new facility five miles southwest of Benton (around 30 miles southwest of the older facility in Little Rock) which admitted its first patient in 1936.

With evolving standards of care, new medications and a trend toward deinstitutionalization, the Little Rock facility grew increasingly obsolete and in 1963 the late-19th/early-20th century buildings were demolished and replaced with smaller, more "modern" structures. With the move towards community-based care, the scope of the state's mental hospitals was reduced to the most difficult cases and to forensic services (psychiatric evaluation of criminal defendants). At the time I visited the Benton facility in Spring 2008, it was primarily used to provide long-term care for indigent elderly patients along with a small number of mentally ill patients from around the region.

The current Little Rock Arkansas State Hospital has a street address of 4313 West Markham (between Palm and Hopper streets at lat/long 34.75, -92.322). An 1893 Little Rock map shows the then-new facility on the far west side of the city in the same location.

Hospital Graveyard

Patients who died at the Arkansas State Hospital with no one to claim the body were buried on the grounds of the hospital. In the absence of perpetual care or, for that matter, much concern by anyone at all, the graves from the late-19th and early-20th century have had a less than peaceful rest. To make matters worse, there is little documentation available for these gravesites, so the info that follows may not be entirely correct.

With the expansion of the hospital and the growth of the city around the formerly-remote hospital grounds, the graves on the main Arkansas State Hospital grounds were moved at some unknown time further to the west to a field off Markham Drive. (lat/long 34.7593, -92.3901). This may have occurred in the early 20th century or (more likely) as late as 1963 when the late-19th/early-20th century buildings were torn down and replaced. Although Tonya Hillborn at the Arkansas Health Center in Benton indicated in a phone conversation on 5/27/2008 that the graves were moved "because interstate built over them", this is questionable because construction on I-630 (The Wilbur D. Mills Freeway - which runs along what was once Eighth Street on the south side of the old Hospital grounds), began in the 1970s around the time that the graves were allegedly being moved a second time.

In the first move, 3,000 to 4,000 graves were relocated. Most graves were unmarked and the few tombstones that had existed were damaged by time or vandals. Records of burials were spotty and the cemetery was also used for unidentified paupers. Lacking any advocates to champion the cause of these forgotten people, it is likely that a minimal amount of care was given to the process of removing and reinterring remains, many of which had certainly decayed almost to the point of non-existence. And it is conceivable that some remains were missed and now lie ignominiously under I-630. Therefore, it is impossible to know with any precision the identities of the people in the graves or exactly where any specific set of remains is located.

Natural Resources Complex

In 1975, ownership of the second cemetery site was transferred from the State Hospital to State Building Services for the construction of the Natural Resources Complex, with offices for the Plant Board, Poultry and Livestock Commission, the Game and Fish Commission and the State Crime Laboratory. To make way for the new buildings, around half of the old State Hospital gravesites were moved a second time to the graveyard at the State Hospital in Benton, leaving 1,500 to 2,000 graves on a 1-acre plot (lat/long 34.7593, -92.3901) bounded by I-430 on the West (constructed in the late 1970s), Natural Resources Drive on the East, the State Police parking lot on the North and the Natural Resources Building parking lot on the South. A $22,000 monument marking the location was commissioned and erected as part of the land transfer deal between the Hospital to State Building Services.

Scott Kennedy wrote me in 2021 with some recollections of the construction of I-430 and the Natural Resources Drive gravesite.

I grew up playing in those woods and the cemetery. I am 58 now. We would ride our bikes west to Terry Elementary on Shackleford from the Treasure Hills subdivision to school. They started building I-430 when I was in the 1st or 2nd grade. I remember riding across the road bed on my bike. The gravesites that are next to 430 were always just depressions in the ground. So they must have been the first batch to get moved.

The hilltop where the Game and Fish building sits had rows of headstones on it. Usually just small state issued stones. They were not very far apart either. It confused us as kids because they were too short for people to lay head to toe. We thought they may have been buried standing up. LOL Later I heard they had been cremated and buried there which made more sense. There were some real old markers in there.

We had heard they were going to "move" the graves when they started building the roads. I never gave it much thought but one day all the markers were gone. I do not remember seeing where they dug anyone up and moved them.

I think we moved away in 1977. But the Game and Fish building was there if not completely finished. We got to know the security guard and he would let us roam the unfinished building. Crazy kids.

Natural Resources Drive





Dedication plaque

Memorial credits plaque





Arkansas Health Center

The final resting spot for the remaining 1,500 to 2,000 persons is a mass grave in a field on the southern end of the Arkansas Health Center southwest of Benton, AR (6701 Highway 67, lat/long 34.524, -92.654) The main campus of the Health Center can be reached from I-30 by taking the Highway 67 exit and following Highway 67 south for a few miles until you see the facility on your left.

The graveyard is located off State Highway 229 (lat/long 34.5165, -92.6494). The gate to a winding dirt road leading to the cemetery is on the west side of a municipal park and is kept locked. If you wish to visit the graveyard, check in at the communications center of the Arkansas Health Center to get an security escort that can unlock the gate.

I visited the Benton graveyard in May of 2008. Don Kesterson, a hospital staff mechanic, was mowing the graveyard and stopped to speak with me awhile. Kesterson had worked in the Little Rock facility and gave me directions to the Little Rock Arkansas State Hospital and the graveyard.

The gravesites were initially marked with numbered row signs, but almost all the metal signs have long-since fallen and been removed. A handful of graves in the cemetery from the 1940s and 1950s have in-ground tombstones but when I visited in May of 2008, there did not appear to have been any recent burial activity. The site is in view of the Mount Harmony Cemetery, but, basically, it's a field that, like it's residents (and all of us), will ultimately be forgotten.

Arkansas Health Center entrance

Arkansas Health Center

Arkansas Health Center

Arkansas Health Center

Arkansas Health Center aerial photo (1950s?)

Gate to cemetery being unlocked by security escort

Road to the cemetery

Road to the cemetery

Entrance marker to cemetery

Entrance marker to cemetery

Looking southwest across cemetery grounds

Looking west across cemetery grounds

Looking east across the cemetery grounds

William L. Barnes (Sgt. US Army)

William Arthur Shoemaker (1898-1977)

Unreadable gravestone

Anthony B. Taylor (1861-1941)

Ellen Herring Williams (1886-1937) and
Lucille Wilson Williams (1909-1946)

Zack Williams (1863-1946)

Felled grave row marker

Felled grave row marker

Mount Harmony Cemetery

Don Kesterson trimming my great-grandfather's hair

Goodbye great-grandpa

Architects Invited to Submit Designs For Memorial to Former Mental Patients

When I visited the Benton hospital in the spring of 2008, a woman at the communications center (Lisa) mentioned that people do occasionally stop by looking for information on their ancestors and she gave me photocopies of a pair of articles. The first is an article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about the saga of the State Hospital gravesites. The clipping does not include the date but appears to be from the late 1970s or early 1980s. The second article combines a detailed history of the Little Rock State Hospital and Benton facility that was written in June of 1979 with some construction info from April of 1981.

Sanders at memorial site where 1,500 to 2,000 former mental patients and paupers are buried.

Gazette Staff

Former mental patients buried on the grounds of what is now the state Natural Resources Complex will be memorialized by the state, and Arkansas architects have been invited to submit designs for a suitable memorial.

The State Building Services announced the competition in legal advertisements last week. The winner will receive $700 and will be recognized in a plaque on the memorial. Second and third-place winners will get $350 and $150.

An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 persons are buried on the Natural Resources grounds in unmarked graves, according to Jerry Sanders, state archiitect and co-ordinator of the design competition.

Once there were an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 persons buried on the grounds near Interstate 430 and West Markham Street. The area had been cemetery for the State Hospital, but some of the remains were moved to the grounds of the Benton Services Center, part of the state Mental Health Services Division, when development of the Natural Resources Complex began in 1975.

The Plant Board, the Livestock and Poultry Commission, the State Police, the state Crime Laboratory and the Game and Fish Commission now are housed in buildings at the Natural Resources Complex. The remaining graves are on a 500-acre site bounded by I-430 on the west, the State Police parking lot on the north, Natural Resources Drive on the east and the Natural Resources Building parking lot on the south. This site will be preserved undeveloped,Sanders said.

Agreed to Memorial

The property was transferred from State Hospital to State Building Services in 1975 to allow construction of the Natural Resources Complex. As part of the transfer, Building Services agreed to erect a memorial to those buried on the grounds, after development of the Natural Resources Complex was completed.

As with their lives, death has not been entirely peaceful for these persons. Originally, they were buried on the grounds of the present State Hospital unit on West Markham Street. To make room for new construction there, they were moved many years ago to their present location - a remote area at the time.

Most of the graves are of mental patients who had no one to bury them, but the cemetery also had been used for paupers who weren't mental patients, Sanders said. For example, one of those buried on the grounds was a hobo known only as "Arkansas Bill," Sanders said.

Records Incomplete

Records of the cemetery are incomplete, he said. Building Services has a general idea from the records of who was supposed to have been buried on the property, but virtually no idea of the location of individual graves. Most of the graves were unmarked to begin with, Sanders said, and of the few tombstones that existed, many were broken by vandals before Building Services acquired the property.

The deadline for submitting entries in the memorial design competition is 4:30 p.m. August 3. Details on submission of entries are available from Sanders at State Building Services, 1515 Building, Suite 700, 1515 West Seventh Street, Little Rock 72202, telephone 371-1834. The winner will be chosen by a five-person jury named by Charles Nabholz, director of State Building Services.

The competition is limited to licensed architects residing in Arkansas. "We wanted people with experience," Sanders said. "And most architects have liability insurance." The winning architect will be responsible for preparing the contract documents necessary for construction of the memorial.

Building Services has budgeted $22,500 for construction of the memorial, Sanders said, and entries that would exceed that amount will be declared ineligible. Building Services owns a supply of marble obtained from a building that was razed and hopes the marble can be used in construction of the memorial, be said.

Other requirements are that the memorial exclude pools and fountains (because of the maintenance required), that it have night lighting for security and that it be accessible to the handicapped.

"We're just looking for something real simple," Sanders said.

History: Arkansas State Hospital and Benton Services Center

June 1979

The Arkansas State Hospital was established by a Legislative Act of 1873 as the "Arkansas Lunatic Asylum". An appropriation of $50,000 was made for the purchase and erection of the necessary buildings.

In February, 1881, Governor Churchill approved a bill for the levy of a one mill tax on all property of the State for two years and an appropriation of $150,000 for the purpose of "building, organizing, furnishing and operating an insane asylum at or near Little Rock."

The first buildings, an administrative building and six wards, were completed in 1882; and the institution was opened on March 1, 1883 with Dr. C. C. Forbes as Superintendent. The first patient was admitted February 26, 1883.

The first buildings soon proved inadequate to take care of the State's mental patients, and in 1886, two wings, "B-North and South" were added. A "cyclone" destroyed six wards of the South Wing on October 2, 1394. All admissions to the Hospital was then halted until the rebuilding of the wards was completed in February 1895. Within the next few years many new building were added and by 1915 there were twelve buildings for patients.

The name of the institution was changed by the 1905 Legislature to "State Hospital For Nervous Diseases", and in 1933 to "Arkansas State Hospital".

In 1915-16 the Hospital Board recommended that a farm be purchased where able-bodied patients could work, and in 1919 the General Assembly authorized the Board to purchase a farm. The farm bought 240 acres about 10 miles east of Little Rock on the Arkansas River for use as a dairy farm. During the 1927 floods several acres of the farm caved into the river and continued to do so with each rise of the river. By 1935, most of the land, including th3 buildings, had been carried away. Money was appropriated to buy another tract of land to relocate the dairy barn which was the only remaining building. The new farm was 1250 acres located about equal distances between Willow Beach Lake on Highway 30 and hill Lake on Highway 70. This farm was named the Baucum Unit of the State Hospital and consisted of a central administrative building with dormitories for employees, kitchen, dining room, heating plant and two dormitories for 120 patients. Three large barns and several attendant houses were added later.

In 1917-1918, the daily population of the State Hospital averaged 1970 patients while the certified capacity was 1964. By 1928 the Hospital was so over-crowded that a Special Session of the Legislature passed a resolution providing for a survey of the existing facilities. As a result of the survey, the regular session of the General Assembly in 1929 passed a law creating a State Commission and authorized a bond issue to provide funds for new buildings.

Land for the new unit of the State Hospital was purchased on Highway 67 approximately five miles southwest of Benton. The first buildings were completed in 1931. In 1934, the State secured a WPA loan and the work was completed with 16 buildings ready for occupancy in 1935. The first patient was admitted to the Benton Unit on June 7., 1936. It soon became evident that the 16 dormitories were inadequate and so a 352 bed capacity building (Bldg 67) was completed on October 29, 1947. In April 1951, another new building with 400 ward beds and 60 infirmary beds (Bldg 70) was completed.

The 1957 Legislature authorized the State Hospital to cease all farming operations. The stock, timber, etc., were disposed of and the patients were transferred to Benton.

In 1957 a maximum security bolding was built at the Little Rock Hospital (Rogers Hall).

In 1962, a joint rehabilitative project was initiated at the Benton Unit. Building 7 was remodeled to house the project which was designed to screen all State Hospital patients for Rehabilitative potential. The program was started in May 1962 with one building, 8 employees, and 30 chronic patients. In about 1965, Building 18 was cc npleted and the alministrative staff of the Rehabilitation Services moved into it.

The 1961 Legislature appropriated $6,000,000 for the construction of new buildings at the Little Rock State Hospital to replace the old buildings. Construction started in 1963. Until that time, all admissions of patients had been to the Little Rock Hospital where they were evaluated. Chronic and elderly patients were transferred to the Benton Unit. Since the new buildings would not have the bed capacity of the old buildings, it was decided to open an admission office at the Benton Unit. The admission office was opened July 1, 1963. Patients from the following 15 southwest counties were then admitted to Benton:







Hot Spring

Little River








Building #59 was designated to receive all white males and females; black males were to go to Building #54 and black females to Building #57. These admission wards were designated as the Southwest Arkansas Treatment Center and the Center was to receive all admissions from the above 15 counties, except those committed to the State Hospital for 30 day evaluation by Circuit Court. The Circuit Court commitments were to continue to go to the Little Rock Hospital.

On July 22, 1963, all the Black female patients (55 total) were transferred from the Little Rock Hospital to Benton to Ward #57. On July 29, 1963, all the Black males (total 146) were transferred from Little Rock to Ward #54 at Benton. The Benton Hospital started admitting all Black patients from the entire State on August 1, 1963.

In 1964, a Hospital Improvement program was started on Building # 1 of the Benton Unit and a Federal Grant was obtained to finance the program. The Program involved obtaining jobs for chronic patients and moving the patients out of the hospital into communities to live in groups in boarding homes where they would continue to be supervised by State Hospital personnel.

On July 1, 1964, the Benton Unit was divided into two units. They were designated "Unit # 2" which was the Psychiatric Service and "Unit #3" which was the adult Mentally Retarded. (Unit- #1 was the Little Rock Hospital). On July 1, 1964, the patient population of the two Units at Benton was 1561 for the Psychiatric Unit and 845 in the Mentally Retarded Unit.

In the Fall of 1964, the first of the new buildings were ready for use at the Little Rock State Hospital and the rest of the buildings were opened in 1965.

On January 4, 1965, the number of counties of the admission area to the Benton Unit was increased to include the following counties:
















Building #58 was designated to receive all male and female white patients from these counties and the Ward was named the "Southeast Treatment Center". The Black patients from the counties went to Building# 54 and 57.

In April, 1965 the Little Rock State Hospital resumed the admission of Black patients from their section of the State with the exception of Pulaski County. Blacks from that county continued to be admitted to Benton.

On June 1, 1965. the Specialized Center for the treatment of Alcoholism was moved from the Little Rock State Hospital to Building #6 at the Benton Unit. On October 1, 1965, the Alcoholism Service was designated as a separate unit under the jurisdiction of the Arkansas Rehabilitation Service but the admissions and the medical supervision remained with the State Hospital.

In 1965 the word "Unit" was dropped from the Benton Hospital and it became known as "The Benton State Hospital".

In October 1965, the Benton State Hospital was racially integrated. On October 18, 1965, all patients were transferred out of Building #58 and that building was designated as the admission ward for male patients from Southwest Arkansas counties. On October 21, 1965, all male patients were transferred out of Building #59 and that building becaw-e the admission ward for female patients from Southwest Arkansas. Building #54 was designated as the admission ward for males from Southeast Arkansas and Building #57 for females from Southeast Arkansas.

On June 12, 1968, Building 54 was designated as the admission building for all patients from Southeast Arkansas and the newly admitted patients on Building #57 were transferred to Building 54.

On November 6, 1968, the admission ward for the Southeast area was changed to Building #2 and all patients were transferred from Building #54 to Building #2. Building #54 became part of Unit # 3 for the Mentally Retarded on December 2, 1968, when a number of male patients were transferred from Ward #69 to Building 54. Building 57 became part of the Mentally Retarded Unit on December 18, 1968, when female patients were transferred from other buildings to Building 57. At that time, Unit 3 (Mentally Retarded) was composed of Buildings 54, 56; 57, and 67.

On January 1, 1969, patients were moved from Building 56 to Building 53 and that Building became part of Unit 3.

Due to the availability of Federal money under the Medicaid Program, on January 1, 1969, the Benton State Hospital received a license for a 440 bed skilled care nursing home. Building 67, with a capacity of 280, and the first floor of Building 70, with a capacity of 160, was designated as the Nursing Home.

In September 1969, the Arkansas State Educational Department opened a Juvenile Classification and Re-evaluation Program in Building 7 at Benton. The first clients were admitted in November 1969.

On May 16, 1969, an additional license was received for the Skilled Care Nursing Home at Benton which increased the Nursing Home bed capacity from 440 to 600 beds. This was the 160 beds of the 2nd floor of Building 70.

In 1971, the George W. Jackson Community Mental Health Center, Jonesboro, Arkansas, with a bed capacity of 100, was completed and opened for patients. This Community Center is recognized as a Unit of the Arkansas State Hospital and its admission area was the seven counties of the Northwest corner of the State.

On March 10, 1972, Benton received a license for a 2nd Nursing Home. This was for a 302 bed Intermediate Care Facility. The buildings included in this license were Buildings 53, 54, 56, and 57. This terminated Unit 3 of the Benton Hospital. In January 1973, the two Nursing Home licenses were terminated and a single license for an Intermediate Care Nursing Home was received.

On August 28, 1972, the patients were moved from Building 53 to Building 12 and Building 53 was remodeled fcr occupancy by the Juvenile Classification and Re-evaluation Center. In 1973 the Center moved from Building 7 to Building 53.

On January 1, 1973, the male patients of Southwest Arkansas on Building 58 were moved to Building 2 and all the patients of Southeast Arkansas on Building 2 were moved to Building 58. Building 2, therefore, became the male admission service for the Southwest and Building 58 became the Southeast Treatment Service.

On April 26, 1973, the chronic mentally ill patients on Building 62 were transferred to Building 61 and this emptied Building 62 and combined all the remaining male and female chronically ill patients on Buildings 1 and 61.

By May 1, 1973, Building 2 had become so deteriorated that it was no lcuger suitable for housing patients. The patients were transferred to Building 62 and Building 62 became the male admission service for Southwest Arkansas.

On January 4, 1974, all patients were moved out of Building 12 to Buildings 56 and 57.

In November 1974, the Hospital Improvement Program was moved from building 1 to Building 61 and all f be patients were moved to Building 61. In December 1974, Building 1 was designated as. a Bearding Home to house the working out-patients of Building 61.

In December 1974, a Prisoner Pre-release and Work-release program from Cummins Prison was established at Benton in Buildings 12 and 13.

In February 1975, the State grounds occupied by the Benton Facilities was renamed the "Benton Services Center" and the Benton State Hospital became the Benton Services Center Hospital.

During 1974-1975 Building 7 was remodeled and in June 1975, the offices of the Medical Director, Administrator, Nursing Service, Nursing Education, Registrar Department, Social Services, Personnel and Patient's Fund moved into the building.

On February 1, 1976, the Juvenile Classi iication and Re-evaluation Center was moved from Building 53 to the Youth Center at Alexander, Arkansas.

In 1976 a Legislative Committee recommended that the Psychiatric Service at Benton be closed and moved to the Little Rock State Hospital. In preparation for this move on August 30, 1976, all the patients on Building 62 were moved to Building 59. This move combined all the admissions from Southwest Arkansas to Building 59 and all the admissions from Southeast Arkansas to Building 58. This also permitted part of the Medical Staff to be moved to the Little Rock State Hospital to prepare for receiving the Benton Psychiatric facilities.

On August 31, 1976, the Boarding Home on Building 1 was closed and most of the patients ware sent to out-patient groups in Hut Springs, Arkansas. A few of the patients were returned to inpatient status on Building 61.

In 1976 the admission area for the George W. Jackson Community Mental Health Center, Jonesboro, Arkansas was increased from seven counties to 12 counties. This decreased the admission area for the Little Rock State Hospital and, therefore, assisted that Hospital in receiving the 28 counties that had been going to the Benton Hospital.

On November 30, 1976, all admissions to Benton from the 13 Southeast counties were discontinued and some members of the Benton Medical staff were transferred to Little Rock. On December 10, 1976, the patients remaining on Building 58 were transferred to Building 59 and Building 58 was closed.

On February 28, 1977, the admissions fron, the 15 Southwest counties were discontinued and again some of the medical staff from Benton were transferred to the Little Rock Hospital. On May 18, 1977, the last patient was discharged from Building 59 and the building was closed. This left Building 61 as the only Psychiatric Service at Benton.

On June 30, 1977, the Arkansas Rehabilitation Service remov:d from the Arkansas State Hospital the responsibility for the Alcoholism Service and Building 6 started its own admission service and records service.

On July 1, 1977, the Arkansas Department of Hunan Services established the Center for the Adult Handicapped on Building 53 at the Benton Services Center. The Center for the Adult Handicapped on Building 53 has a capacity for 40 clients and is a program under the Arkansas Rehabilitation Service.

On September 30, 1977, the last patient on Building 61 was transferred to the Benton Services Center Nursing Home and Building 61 was closed. That officially closed the Psychiatric Service and the Benton Services Center Hospital.

In April 1978, the drainage system in Building 67 became such a problem that the patients had to be moved and the building closed. The patients were moved April 16th, 17th, and 18th to other buildings of the Nursing Home, with most of them going to Building 70. Patients in Build­ing 56 were moved to Building 62 and this permitted some ambulatory patients in Building 70 to be moved to Building 56. The closing of Building 67 created an overcrowding of some of the Wards of the Nursing Home. As of June 30, 1978, the Benton Services Center Nursing Home was licensed for 630 beds but the actual available area in the buildings only permitted a capacity of 614 beds. There were 618 patients in the Nursing Home at that time. The following figures show the authorized number of beds and the number of patients as of June 30, 1973:

Building 54:

70 beds - 70 patients

Ward 71:

70 beds - 74 patients

Building 56:

70 beds - 58 patients

Ward 72:

70 beds - 70 patienta

Building 57:

70 beds - 70 patients

Ward 73:

70 beds - 75 patients

Building 62:

70 beds - 70 patients

Ward 74:

70 beds - 74 patients



Ward 75:

27 beds - 27 patients



Ward 76:

27 beds - 30 patients

The 1979 Legislature appropriated $5,500,000 to build a new Nursing Home at the Benton Services Center. The Legislature recognized that this would not he enough money but the Arkansas State Hospital Board stated that some of the land of the Little Rock State Hospital would be sold to the Veterans Administration and the money derived from the sale would be added to the 51 million dollars. The sale is expected to be about $3,000,000. The construction of the new Nureang Home is expected to start about January of 1980.

As of May 31, 1979, the following dormitory buildings at the Benton Services Center have been closed:

Building 1

Closed August 31, 1976

Building 2

Closed May 1, 1973- Is considered unfit to house patients

Building 58

Closed December 10, 197E

Building 59

Closed May 18, 1977

Building 61

Closed September 30, 1977

Building 67

Closed April 18, 1978 - Is considered unfit to house parients


The buildings that can house patients and are being used as of May 31, 1979, are:

Building and Ward Number

Type of Service

Male or Female




Alcoholism Treatment Service - Capacity of 80





Arkansas Rehabilitation Service





Prison Program





Prison Program





Center for Adult Handicapped - Capacity of 40





N.H_Bldg for mentally ill & mentally retarded





N. H. Bldg for ambulatory mentally ill





N.H. Bldg for retarded ambulatory





N.H. Bldg for mentally retarded - management problems





N.H. Ward for mentally ill





N.H. Ward for severely retarded





N.H. Ward for mostly elderly mentally ill





N.H. Ward for mentally ill & physically ill





N.H. Ward for elderly mentally & physically ill





N.H. Ward for severely retarded





Total Nursing Home patients as of May 31, 1979, was 592.

Construction of the New Nursing Home: Benton Services Center


On March 29, 1979, the Mental Health Commissioner, Robert M. Rankin, M.D., appointed a "Steering Committee" consisting of staff members of the Arkansas State Hospital and the Benton Services Center. Their duty was to coordinate planning in the construction of a new nursing home at the Benton Services Center.

The site selected is overlooking the lake on the South side of the campus. Building #9, presently occupied by Rehabilitation clients, is to be demolished and present occupants will move to Building #61 when renovated. Building #11 has been demolished and Building #13, presently occupied by the Corrections Department, is scheduled to be demolished.

On June 28, 1979, the firm of Canino/Jackson/Maune/Architects, Inc., was chosen by the State Hospital Board as the architects, with Marvin Maune, AIA, as the project architect. The plans were drawn up and went out for bid on October 8, 1980. Bid opening by State Building Services was held at 2:00 p.m., on November 13, 1980. Each bid submitted was rejected; inasmuch as, they were in excess of the money available as appropriated by the Legislature. Plans were altered and the project again went out for bid on November 23, 1980. Bid opening was held at 2:00 p.m. on December 18, 1980, and the contract was awarded to Nabholtz Construction Company of Conway for construction of 300 beds, at a cost of $6,634,000.00. The Food Service contract was awarded to the Supreme Fixture Company of Little Rock, at a cost of $328,631.00. Blueprints of the facility were submitted to Health and Human Services Division, Dallas, Texas, Regional Office, and approved. Ground breaking ceremonies were held at 10:00 a.m. on January 23, 1981.

The facility will be two stories, built on a slope to enable ground level exit on each floor. Each wing will have a capacity of 30 residents on each floor, with 2 four-bedrooms and 11 two-bedrooms. Each wing will have a nurses' station, dining hall, housekeeping, and offices for the doctor, secretary, social worker and nurse supervisor. The facility will have a Physical Therapy Department, Occupa­tional and Recreational Therapy Service, Dietary Department, and a Dental Clinic. All administrative offices and ancillary services will remain at their present location in this phase of the construction.


The foundation for the first 30-bed wing was poured April 16, 1981, with 543 of the 754 cement piers poured, and under slab electrical and plumbing being installed. According to information received from Mr. "Red" Sisson, the Construction Superintendent, the slabs for the four remaining 30-bed wings will be poured at the rate of one per week. Steel framing has been scheduled to begin May 1, 1981, with the brick work scheduled for August of 1981.

The construction is being monitored weekly by the Steering Committee, which includes staff from the Arkansas State Hospital and Benton Services Center, as well as the Project Architect and the Construction Superintendent, to insure all are appraised of the progress of the Nursing Home construction.

Additional monies of $12,500,000.00 has been appropriated by the Legislature to complete the facility, and will include the remaining 300 beds, Ancillary Services, Administrative and Clinical Services.



(Fir Court opened in 1984 under the direction of DDS. At the end of 1984 there were 21 patients. They are included in the count of 442, because they are still BSCNH residents).


(Spruce and Birch Courts were added to the units operated by DDS. At the end of 1985 there were 85 patients assigned to the 3 units. They are included in the count of 447, because they are still BSCNH residents).

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