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City Dedicates New Grave Marker for Central State Hospital Patients

575 patients buried on grounds of former mental hospital

Roy Johnson (left) surveys the new monument directing visitors to the graves of 575 former Central State Hospital patients. (WIBC.com photo: Eric Berman)

The former Central State Hospital mental institution has a new memorial on the grounds to the patients who died there in its first century of existence.

Nearly 600 patients died at Central State between its founding in 1848 and 1947. Their graves are marked with small headstones bearing numerical coordinates -- but a large monument identifying the names corresponding to those stones had fallen into disrepair, along with the rest of the cemetery. About 80 volunteers cleared the graveyard of accumulated trash and debris in 2010, and then began looking for a way to properly recognize those buried there.

Roy Johnson of Indianapolis had paid for a personalized gravestone at the cemetery for his grandfather, and donated money toward a refurbished monument honoring all those buried there. The Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Home picked up the rest of the cost and had the monument made. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard presided over a Monday unveiling.

The Indiana Medical History Museum pored over old hospital records to make sure names and grave locations were as accurate as possible.

The Wayne Township Trustee's office has taken over responsibility for maintaining the grounds.

Central State closed in 1994. The state handed off the property in 2002 to the city of Indianapolis, which is working on a redevelopment project there.

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