GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis Developmental Center will host their second annual 5k walk/run through the historic grounds of the Gallipolis Developmental Center Saturday, March 30.
Awards will be presented for the Top Overall Male and Female, as well as the top three in each age group. There will be no duplication of awards. To enter the race, or obtain more information about the event, contact Mary Holley, Gallipolis Developmental Center, 2500 Ohio Avenue, Gallipolis, Ohio 45631. The entry fees are $20 pre-registration (postmarked by March 22, 2013, or $25 Race Day registration. Kids 12 and under are $15 for pre-registration and $20 for Race Day registration. Only pre-registration guarantees a T-shirt. Make checks payable to the Gallipolis Developmental Center.
Monetary and/or food donations will also be accepted to combat hunger in the Gallia County area in honor of the State of Ohio Operation Feed Campaign. Donations and proceeds from the race will go to local food pantries.
The story of the Gallipolis Developmental Center (GDC) is best told by looking at the people involved. This story includes the residents themselves, the employees and the impact it has had on the lives of the people of the local community, state of Ohio and even throughout the United States.
The medical roots of this area go back to the Civil War times when the U.S. government established a 250-bed U.S. Army General Hospital in Gallia County. Approximately 4,000 Union soldiers were treated here as well as some Confederate Soldiers. Some of these soldiers paid the ultimate price while here and were buried in the local cemeteries, including four Confederate soldiers, many were buried in the Pine Street Cemetery.
In 1889, in the home of Marie L. Shepard, a group of local citizens conceived the idea to build the first state-maintained institution for epileptics in the United States. Through the efforts of these Gallipolitans, the Ohio General Assembly on April 11, 1890, passed an act, creating a commission to provide accommodations for the epileptic and the epileptic insane of the state. According to the Commission on site selection, this land was chosen because of its healthfulness, purity of water, general adaptability for hospital purposes and access. Upon passage of the bill, Governor James E. Campbell appointed a commission composed of John L. Vance, Gallipolis, C.C. White, Columbus and George H. Bunning, Sidney to make recommendations for a site for the proposed hospital. The architect chosen to help create the Ohio Hospital for Epileptics was J.W. Yost of Columbus. He identified many natural advantages for choosing the Gallipolis site to include the availability of nearby stone from the hill behind the proposed grounds; the abundance of coal; reasonable rates for adjoining farm land which could afford favorable occupation for the “inmates”, as they were then called. Additionally, the proposed land was naturally graded, which would affect the ease of building construction and by using “inmate” labor, the cost of construction could be reduced considerably.
The facility was originally designed to be totally self-supporting. This colonization concept would afford the hospital the luxury of being practical, self-sufficient in respect to produce most food items that included dairy products, fruits, vegetables, meats and to maintain its own boiler operation, which included a tunnel system that would connect the boiler system with the homes and other structures of the facility. This concept would also allow use of resident labor for maintenance, production and direct care of those “inmates” unable to perform self-help skills.
Upon acceptance of the commission and architect’s report, the General Assembly appropriated $40,000 for three stone residences on March 4, 1891. The first cornerstone was laid on November 12, 1981. It weighed approximately 2,200 pounds and like the stone used for the erection of the buildings, it was quarried from the hill at the rear of the grounds. Originally named, “the Asylum for Epileptic Insane”, the facility name was changed to the “Ohio Hospital for Epileptics” (aka O.H.E.) following an act passed by the General Assembly in 1892. On November 30, 1893, the three initial buildings were open for the reception of patients. By November 1894, nine stone residential buildings, a kitchen, bakery and a boiler house had also been erected. At this time, O.H.E. housed 351 patients.
The facility continued to grow, and in 1907, the census of the facility was up to 1,300 residents with approximately 200 employees. The estate was at 500 acres with over 36 buildings, exclusive of barns, greenhouses and other buildings. Twenty-three of these buildings were occupied with patients. The total budget for the Hospital for the fiscal year ending November 15, 1907 was $246,391. O.H.E. continued to grow and follow the original colonization plan through the following four decades.
In 1950, the name was changed from “The Ohio Hospital for Epileptics” to “The Gallipolis State Institute” (aka G.S.I.). In 1961, G.S.I. served as the home for 2,358 patients suffering from epilepsy, retardation and mental health problems. It also employed a total of 710 local citizens, with 443 of the total serving as direct care to the patients. Although there were capital improvements completed annually to the Institution between 1907 through 1957, most remember the Medical and Surgical building as being a turning point in the history of the Gallipolis State Institute. The new Medical and Surgical building (a.k.a. M&S building) was completed in 1959. It was signed to accommodate the physically ill with complete medical facilities to include a surgical unit. The building is a five-story 48,565-square-foot structure with 145 rooms. This building was originally valued in excess of $800,000. Today the building stands uninhabited, preparing to be razed.
On September 7, 1979, the name of the facility was once again changed this time to the “Gallipolis Developmental Center” (aka G.D.C.). What started in 1890, with the facility becoming the site of the first and largest facility in the nation to provide services to persons with epilepsy, and at its largest, serving in excess of 2,500 persons went to an average of 250 individuals in 2001. More than half of these people also had several multiple physically handicapping conditions or mental illness, and more than a third were over 60 years old.
However, change never ends. The G.D.C. currently serve only 140 residents and has become a Resource Center for counties and providers in the community. The G.D.C. remains the state’s oldest and largest facility of its type and continues to function under Federal Medicaid standards.