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Searcy Hospital | Photo © 2024 Matthan Brown

Searcy Hospital

Location Class:
Built: c. 1835-1980 | Abandoned: 2012
Historic Designation: National Historic Landmark (1970) National Register of Historic Places (1988)
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: Matthan Brown

Mount Vernon Arsenal and Barracks

The history of Searcy Hospital dates back to 1828, when the Mount Vernon Arsenal was established by the United States Army as an ordnance manufacturing facility in Mount Vernon, Alabama. From its inception until the Civil War, it operated as a principal ammunition production center for the U.S. Army. Along with the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta, Maine, it is one of the most complete antebellum arsenals surviving today.

The complex comprises 34 buildings, including 19 structures from the 19th-century military era and 20 buildings constructed or extensively renovated in the 20th century for hospital use. Two buildings are incorporated within the c. 1920 Administration building. A deep ravine cuts into the site, creating a unique horseshoe shape.

The buildings arch around the parade grounds, with the three-story arsenal building at the flat end. These structures date back to the 1830s, except for the mess hall, which dates back to c. 1880. The complex is surrounded by a 12-foot-high, mile-long brick wall built in the 1830s and 1840s. Between these structures and the surrounding perimeter walls, buildings of later vintage are scattered throughout the complex.

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1837 sketch of Mount Vernon Arsenal by John La Tourette from “An Accurate Map of the State of Alabama and West Florida.” Alabama Department of Archives and History

Military History

War of 1812

The military occupation of the arsenal site dates back to 1811. Due to the availability of fresh spring water, U.S. Army officers chose the future arsenal site three miles from Fort Stoddert for a military garrison and a group of log buildings were built there. Just 30 miles south was Fuerte Carlota, occupied by Spanish troops. The international border ran south of Mt. Vernon, then the Mississippi Territory. The Spanish designated the area around Mobile and as far west as Baton Rouge as West Florida.

Residents of the province rose against the authority of the King in 1810, declared independence, and established the Republic of West Florida. On September 23, 1810, armed rebels stormed Fort San Carlos at Baton Rouge. They killed two Spanish soldiers “in a sharp and bloody firefight that wrested control of the region from the Spanish,” capturing the fort for themselves.

Preparing for an attack on Mobile, rebels flocked to the Mount Vernon area, but U.S. officials refused to allow them to stage an attack from their vicinity. The planned assault never materialized, and shortly thereafter, the United States took over the Republic of West Florida’s territory. The republic lasted a mere two and a half months.

In 1813, U.S. General James Wilkinson and an overwhelming number of U.S. troops sailed to Mobile and demanded the Spanish surrender. Severely outnumbered, Spanish captain Cayetano Pérez surrendered Fuerte Carlota, soon renamed Fort Charlotte, and Mobile became part of the United States. Troops from Mount Vernon were sent to assist in defending against any possible Spanish counterattacks. Plans were made to send all the troops from Mount Vernon to Mobile, but they were put on hold indefinitely with the outbreak of the Creek War of 1813-1814.

Creek War of 1813-1814

During the War of 1812, tensions within the Creek Nation led to division. The Creek nativists, known as the Red Sticks, advocated for maintaining traditional ways and resisted accommodating white settlers. In contrast, other Creek members, who interacted more with whites through trade, leaned towards adopting European-American culture. This led to a civil war between the Creeks in the summer of 1813. The Red Sticks attacked headmen associated with accommodating white settlers. They began a systematic slaughter of domestic livestock, most of which belonged to men who had gained power by adopting aspects of European culture.

In July 1813, Colonel James Caller and a contingent of Mississippi Territorial Militia departed from Mount Vernon to intercept a group of Red Sticks led by Peter McQueen. These warriors had traveled to Pensacola to secure ammunition from the Spanish. Settlers along the Alabama River feared an imminent attack by the Red Sticks.

American troops ambushed the Red Sticks as they camped on the banks of Burnt Corn Creek on the evening of July 27, 1813. The Red Sticks scattered and sought refuge in the nearby swamps. Emboldened by their success, the Americans started plundering the Red Sticks’ pack-horses. Noticing that the Americans had dropped their guard, the Red Sticks regrouped and led a counterattack, scattering the Americans. This engagement became known as “The Battle of Burnt Corn” and would bring the United States to war with the Red Sticks.

Following the battle, Governor of West Florida Mateo González Manrique issued an order to supply the Indians with powder and musket balls, encouraging the Red Sticks to wage war against the United States. In a letter to General Ferdinand Leigh Claiborne, U.S. District Judge Harry Toulmin wrote, “They have had a war dance—avowed their intention to commit hostilities upon us—and are to begin with the adjacent settlements. The people have been fleeing all night.”

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A map of Alabama during the War of 1812. Mount Vernon and Fort Stoddert are located in the bottom left. Fort Mims is a tad Northeast of them. Benson John Lossing; The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812

Frontier families abandoned their homes and fled to Mount Vernon and Fort Stoddert, where U.S. troops could protect them. The garrison swelled far beyond capacity as men, women, and children huddled there in fear. Others decided to ‘fort up’ and hastily erected Fort Mims. The small fort consisted of a blockhouse and stockade surrounding the house and outbuildings of plantation owner Samuel Mims.

On August 29, 1813, reports of Indians in the vicinity came flooding in. Two enslaved African Americans reported seeing “painted warriors” but were flogged when scouts found no signs of the war party. On the morning of the assault, a mounted scout delivered a second warning. Still, Major Daniel Beasley, commander of the fort, dismissed it and took no precautions, reportedly because he was drunk. Beasley claimed he could “maintain the post against any number of Indians,” but the fort was poorly defended as there were no pickets or sentries, and the east gate was partially blocked open due to drifting sand.

The Red Sticks attacked on August 30, 1813, with a force estimated between 750 and 1,000 warriors, charging the open gate en masse. The militia and settlers held the inner enclosure of the fort, fighting on for about two hours until there was a pause. With casualties rising, the Red Sticks debated whether to continue the fight. They came to an agreement that the mixed-blood Creeks taking refuge inside the fort must be killed. A second attack was launched, with the remaining defenders falling back into the fort’s bastion. The bastion was set ablaze, which spread to the rest of the stockade. Most of the militia defenders, the mixed-blood Creek, and white settlers were killed.

An estimated 500 militiamen, settlers, slaves, and Creeks loyal to the Americans died or were captured. The Red Sticks took some 250 scalps. The Red Sticks razed the surrounding plantations, slaughtered over 5,000 head of cattle, destroyed crops and houses, and murdered or captured slaves. Survivors began to reach Mount Vernon the following day with stories of the fall of the fort and the hundreds of its dead occupants. When a relief column arrived from Fort Stoddard a few weeks later, it found 247 corpses of the defenders and 100 of the Creek attackers.

Fearing the worst to come, several thousand people fled their settlements. Thinking an immediate attack was impending, soldiers escorted all the refugees at Mount Vernon down to Mobile for their safety. The number of soldiers at Mount Vernon grew steadily in the following weeks as General Claiborne gathered his army to prepare for operations against the Red Sticks. Claiborne’s troops commenced their slow advance up the Alabama River from this location, culminating at the Battle of Holy Ground on December 23, 1813. Mount Vernon remained an important post until the end of the war.

The Mount Vernon Arsenal

In 1828, Mount Vernon took on a new purpose as the United States Congress chose the site to construct a major federal arsenal. Authorization to build the complex was approved on May 24, 1828, and signed into law by President Andrew Jackson. Construction of the sprawling complex was well underway by 1830. The Mt. Vernon Arsenal & Barracks encompassed a variety of structures, including laboratories, magazines, barracks, and officers’ quarters. It was enclosed by a strong brick wall, and significant portions still stand today.

During the Creek War of 1836, arms from Mount Vernon provided crucial supplies to troops, establishing it as a key depot for weapons and provisions throughout the antebellum era. As the Civil War approached, it held Alabama’s largest stockpile of small arms.

The War Between the States

Alabama Governor Andrew Barry Moore expected the United States to reinforce or destroy the arsenal. Before his state’s secession, Moore sent out state militia to capture the arsenal on January 4, 1861. The Alabama troops scaled the walls and occupied the facility before anyone knew they were there. The takeover from the small U.S. Army force, commanded by Captain Jesse Lee Reno, was peaceful and bloodless. Alabama seceded a week later, giving control of the arsenal to the Confederate Army. In 1862, after the Battle of New Orleans, Confederate forces relocated ammunition production from the Mount Vernon Arsenal to Selma, Alabama, opting for a more secure location further from Union threats.

The Confederate Army maintained control of the Arsenal until the end of the Civil War. Following the war’s end, the facility reverted to federal government ownership. It was garrisoned during Reconstruction until it was renamed Mount Vernon Barracks in 1873. This name remained unchanged throughout its entire military history.

Apache Prisoners of War

Between 1887 and 1894, Mount Vernon Barracks played a controversial role in American history by receiving 396 Chiracahua Apache prisoners of war transferred from Fort Pickens and Fort Marion (Castillo de San Marcos) in Florida. The prisoners were relocated far from their ancestral lands in the Southwest as part of a U.S. Army initiative to end the Apache wars. Among them were leaders of the Apache rebels, including Chief Chihuahua, Chief Naiche, and Geronimo.

At Fort Pickens, The Washington Post reported, “In that alien climate, the Apache died ‘like flies at frost time.’ Businessmen there soon had the idea to have Geronimo serve as a tourist attraction, and hundreds of visitors daily were let into the fort to lay eyes on the ‘bloodthirsty’ Indian in his cell.”

A village was constructed outside the walls surrounding the Barracks to provide shelter for the Indians. During the day, the prisoners were relatively free to move around but were required to return to the village by sundown. Instead of facing death on the battlefield, the Apaches had to contend with starvation and the rampant spread of disease. Despite the equally high death rate, the village managed to maintain a high birth rate, which helped offset the losses.

Apache Indians are seated in a circle, and two white men stand behind the group outside the cabins at the Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama. c. 1890-1899. Alabama Department of Archives and History
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Apache Indians Chihuahua, Nachez, Loco, Nano, and Geronimo at the Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama. c. 1890-1899. Alabama Department of Archives and History

One prisoner recalled the swarms of mosquitoes that plagued them, causing sickness and death among men, women, and children. According to him, their medicine men were powerless to cure malaria. Dr. Walter Reed, a renowned United States Army physician who confirmed the mosquito-borne transmission of yellow fever, served as post-surgeon and worked closely with the Apache Indians during this period. The frequent deaths were largely attributed to a type of malaria endemic to the village’s location. So, the village was demolished, and another was constructed nearby.

While imprisoned, 1/4 of the Apache population died due to tuberculosis. The Apache preferred to conduct their burial customs in secrecy, often burying their dead at night to avoid observation. Among those who died at Mount Vernon was Chappo, a noted warrior and son of Geronimo. He was buried at Mobile National Cemetery along with twelve other Apache who died at the barracks.

Shortly after the poor conditions in the village were publicized, preparations were made to relocate the Apache to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1894. The Indian village was dismantled and transported by train. Unfortunately, the train caught fire in New Orleans, resulting in the loss of most of the buildings. Geronimo died of pneumonia in 1909 at Fort Sill as a prisoner of war. The rest of the Apache Indians remained at Fort Sill until 1913.

In 1914, two-thirds of the tribe moved to the Mescalero Apache Reservation, while the remaining third settled on allotments around Fletcher and Apache, Oklahoma, forming the Fort Sill Apache Tribe. On December 4, 1894, two weeks after the departure of the last Apache prisoners, the Barracks were abandoned.

Searcy Hospital

On March 1, 1895, Congress authorized the transfer of Mt. Vernon Barracks, comprising over 1600 acres, to the State of Alabama. It wasn’t until December 11, 1900, that the Alabama General Assembly approved its conversion into a mental hospital. This new hospital aimed to alleviate overcrowding at Bryce Hospital, the state’s existing facility for the mentally ill, by establishing a separate institution specifically for African American patients. To prepare the Mount Vernon Barracks for its new role as a hospital, the State of Alabama allocated $25,000 for renovations. This new hospital was named Mount Vernon Hospital for the Colored Insane.

In his 1902 report to the Board of Trustees, Dr. James Thomas Searcy, superintendent for Alabama State Insane Hospitals, described the buildings at the former Mount Vernon Barracks as dilapidated. He noted that all the valuable timber and movable property was destroyed. To save money, staff and patients at Bryce Hospital crafted many windows, doors, and security features, which were then shipped to Mount Vernon by train. They also installed essential facilities like a kitchen, laundry, and heating and lighting systems to prepare the hospital for incoming patients. The natural spring known as “Jackson Spring,” which supplied the former barracks and garrison, now produced water for the hospital.

On May 20, 1902, a specially chartered train transported 318 African American patients and 25 staff members from Bryce Hospital to the Mount Vernon facility. By the end of the year, 400 African American patients were there.

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Dr. James T. Searcy
Discovery of pellagra in the United States

Every summer since the hospital’s opening, there were three or four cases of an unknown disease, never recognized in the United States. These usually proved fatal for the patient. By late summer and early fall of 1906, there were eighty-eight cases with fifty-seven deaths—a mortality of about 64 percent. During a meeting of the Alabama State Insane Hospital’s Board of Trustees, Dr. James T. Searcy expressed significant concern about this mysterious endemic affecting patients at Mount Vernon.

At his father’s request, Dr. George Harris Searcy went to Mount Vernon to assist the physicians in studying and controlling the disease. With the assistance of Dr. Emit Luther McCafferty, Assistant Superintendent of Alabama State Insane Hospitals, Dr. James Henry Somerville of Fairfield, Alabama, and Dr. Isadore Dyer of New Orleans, Louisiana, the South’s most noted skin specialist, Searcy concluded that the disease was Italian pellagra.

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A drawing of a patient with pellagra detailing the raw, dark skin and weeping lesions associated with the disease.

In the first report of epidemic pellagra in the United States, Searcy wrote that the disease manifested itself by weakness and general rundown condition of the patient. In a few short days, the skin on the hands and feet, the back of the neck, and the face about the cheekbones become darkened, raw, and fissured with weeping lesions. In some cases, the patient became demented. After the skin symptoms become apparent, the patient usually goes to bed due to general weakness and complaining about dullness and depression but little or no pain. The patient’s pulse becomes slower over a week or several weeks, in some cases, until death occurs.

A sample of the meal given to the patient at Mount Vernon Hospital was sent to a pathologist in Washington, D.C., to be analyzed. The pathologist reported that the meal was unfit for human consumption as it was made of moldy grain and contained large quantities of bacteria and fungi of various sorts. It was concluded that the disease originated in damaged corn used in cornbread and grits given to the patients. Treatment at the time involved placing the patient in clean, hygienic conditions and feeding them good, nourishing meals as well as tonics containing arsenic, iron, and pepsin.

After the report was publicized, pellagra was being diagnosed throughout the South in other mental hospitals, inmates in prisons and jails, orphanages, and the general public. Many called it the “scourge of the South.” According to Dr. Edward Jenner Wood in A Treatise on Pellagra (1912), the Mount Vernon epidemic inspired “the first scientific work on the disease in the U.S.

George H. Searcy died on May 6, 1935, and received a posthumous citation from the Alabama Medical Association for his pioneer work on pellagra alongside other renowned physicians such as epidemiologist Dr. Joseph Goldberger and superintendent of South Carolina State Insane Hospitals, Dr. James Woods Babcock.

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Dr. George Harris Searcy. He served at the Army Hospital in the Panama Canal Zone in World War I.
Self Sufficiency of Searcy Hospital

Dr. James T. Searcy retired in 1919. He died on April 6, 1920, and the Mount Vernon Insane Hospital was renamed Searcy Hospital in his honor. Dr. William Dempsey Partlow, a physician at Bryce Hospital, was elected to succeed Searcy as superintendent of Alabama Insane Hospitals. Partlow strongly believed in Dr. Bryce’s teachings, writing papers such as “Value of employment and its relation to nervous and mental diseases.” Under his tenure, the insane asylums’ farms were expanded.

500 acres of land at Searcy Hospital were allotted for farming purposes. In 1924, Dr. McCafferty estimated that 6,000 bushels of corn, 50,000 bushels of sweet potatoes, and 5,000 gallons of ribbon cane molasses would be produced. The livestock at the hospital numbered 65 cows, about 45 of which produced milk; 100 goats, 300 hogs, and 500 chickens. Improvements were also made, including a new ice plant, refrigerating room, and heating plant. Most of the patients came from farms and tended to the crops and livestock, all going towards making the institution self-sufficient.

Famed eugenicist Dr. William D. Partlow
Forced Sterilization of Patients

Around this time, physicians in Alabama adopted a eugenics model to think about mental disabilities. They sought to segregate people with disabilities and forcibly sterilize them so they would not have children, who the doctors believed would also be “mentally deficient.” Partlow was no different, being a lifelong eugenicist. In 1919, the state legislature of Alabama passed a bill allowing for the creation of a home for the feeble-minded. This bill also gave the superintendent of the school the power to sterilize every patient without consent upon their departure.

The Alabama Home for the Feeble Minded began operating in 1919 with Partlow as superintendent. Its last facility opened in 1923. Two months after its opening, the facility was full of people who had been transferred from poorhouses, jails, orphanages, and other insane asylums, with many being sterilized upon their release. Sterilizations occurred until 1945, when eugenics began being associated with Nazi Germany. In total, 224 people were sterilized in Alabama, with the vast majority of them at either the state school, Bryce Hospital, or Searcy Hospital. Other inhumane procedures continued at the Alabama State Insane Hospitals into the late-1950s, such as electroshock therapy and lobotomies.

In 1939, Dr. Emit Luther McCafferty received recognition from the Alabama Medical Association and the Mobile County Medical Association for his research on pellagra. On January 15, 1946, Dr. McCafferty died of a heart attack brought on by influenza. Dr. Harry Samuel Rowe, a physician at Bryce Hospital since 1923, assumed the role of superintendent of Searcy Hospital following Dr. McCafferty’s tenure.

Patients and the Criminally Insane
Della Hamilton, Murderer

Throughout its years of operation, Searcy and Bryce Hospital became dumping grounds for individuals who were problematic to their families and society. Others were deemed criminally insane by a court and forced into the criminal wards of Searcy, where they spent the rest of their lives in many cases.

One example is Della Hamilton, who murdered her husband, Elmore Hamilton, in July 1910 by striking him in the head with a hatchet as he sat on the porch of their home five miles outside the city of Montgomery. She stated that she killed him because he prevented her from attending church. Despite her attempts to leave for church, he forcibly brought her back home.

A month before the murder, Hamilton was detained in the county jail due to dementia. Following her arrest on murder charges, authorities reported that she was undoubtedly crazy as she had destroyed the lights in her jail cell. The court found her insane and was ordered by Judge J. B. Gaston to be confined at Mount Vernon Hospital indefinitely. She was transferred there along with another lifelong inmate, Selman Davis, who was described by The Montgomery Times as “one of the crazy negro men in charge of the jail.

Edward Arrington, Murderer and Escapee

In October 1955, Edward Arrington killed a night guard before escaping Searcy Hospital. The body of Linkford Chapman, the night guardsman, was found the following morning in a cornfield near the hospital, having been hit with an axe to the head. Authorities soon located Arrington watching TV at a boarding house where he used to live in the Powderly neighborhood of Birmingham. Upon capture, Arrington quickly admitted that he “hit Mr. Chapman with an axe. But I didn’t know I had killed him.

William Owens, Medically Insane

Willie Owens, a 35-year-old African American, was admitted to Searcy Hospital on March 25, 1959, for acting erratically and stockpiling a small arsenal of guns at his mother’s house in Alexander City. He was released from the hospital on May 3rd. On November 4, 1959, Owens went to the business district with his rifle, saying he was looking for a policeman. When a deputy attempted to detain him, Owens threatened the officer and fled. Police followed him to his mother’s house, where an 18-hour siege commenced.

Nearly twenty policemen surrounded the small frame house, exchanging shots with Owens and firing tear gas shells through the windows throughout the night. During the night, Sheriff Woodrow H. Barnes said, “We’re just waiting him out. Unless he changes his attitude, we might have to kill him. We can’t take any chances.

What the police didn’t know was that Owens was in a state of psychosis and believed that the police, news crews, and neighbors were a lynch mob who had come there to kill him. Terrified and with a bullet-shattered kneecap, all hope seemed lost until his friend, Shelley Ranshaw, called out to him, asking if she could be let in. Owens unlocked the back door for her. Ranshaw talked him down and assured him that no one was there to hurt him and that he needed medical treatment as soon as possible.

Ranshaw stepped out the back door and asked Sheriff Barnes to clear the area, promising Owens would come out peacefully. The policemen complied and moved out of sight. He came limping out of the house, his arms loaded with rifles, shotguns, pistols, and ammunition, and set them in the trunk of his car. Knowing the delicate situation, police left Ranshaw undeterred as she drove Owens to the hospital. While on the operating table, medical staff took a 38. caliber pistol and 200 rounds of ammunition from him. After recovering from his wounds weeks later, Owens returned to Searcy Hospital.

1968 Riot

In January 1968, Searcy Hospital made headlines following a four-hour riot that resulted in the escape of three inmates.

One of the escapees was quickly apprehended 40 miles away from the institution. A second escapee, Charles Underwood, was apprehended in Citronelle, approximately 15 miles away, while another inmate, Thomas Rowry, remained at large. Rowry had previously been incarcerated at Sumter County Jail Searcy in 1962 for threatening a doctor in the city of York with a knife and then wielding an axe at a police officer before barricading himself in his house with his three children. In 1963, he was sent to Searcy Hospital for assaulting an inmate with intent to murder and escaped that same year but was recaptured months later in California.

The disturbance began around midnight in the criminal ward housing 150 male inmates, who overturned beds, shattered windows, and caused an estimated $8,000 in damages. According to Dr. Rowe, the inmates were yelling at him about the poor food quality, the harsh treatment they received, and the lack of any recreational activities. He described the riot as the most serious uprising since he joined the staff in 1923.

Over 200 police officers from neighboring communities poured into Mount Vernon when word got out that inmates of one barrack, about one-third confined to the criminal, had taken a hospital attendant hostage and were running wild. Officers and staff tried to reason with the inmates over the loudspeakers and pleased them to come out, but they refused. Unable to reason with them, police fired tear gas canisters and sprayed fire hoses into the ward. Two inmates were injured during the incident: a cut hand from glass fragments on a window and a gashed foot when one of the patients stepped on a nail.

Ten inmates believed to be the ringleaders were temporarily transferred to Atmore Prison Farm while repairs were being made to the ward. Dr. James Sidney Tarberry, director of mental health for Alabama, was on the scene soon after the rioting broke out and was given permission by authorities to transfer the inmates.

Desegregation and Expansion

Dr. Jaime E. Condom, a Cuban exile and physician at Searcy Hospital since 1963, assumed the role of superintendent after Dr. H. S. Rowe retired in 1970. Dr. Condom established the administrative staffing at Searcy, separating it from Bryce and granting it more autonomy. He oversaw the institution’s transition from a custodial facility to a comprehensive treatment hospital, including placing mental patients within the community and applying adequate follow-up treatment.

With the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Alabama state mental hospitals were desegregated, which meant that white patients were now admitted to Searcy Hospital and black patients were now admitted to Bryce Hospital. Condom administered the hospital’s desegregation process, which commenced in 1969.

Under Dr. Condom’s tenure, a new construction campaign was launched. Multiple buildings were constructed, including the E. L. McCafferty Chapel, erected near the south gate by the Friends of Searcy. Dr. Condom was also the final director to reside in the original hospital building.

Closure and Abandonment

By 2010, Searcy Hospital accommodated around 400 extended-care beds and included a 124-bed intermediate care unit dedicated to patients with severe mental illness. The facility housed patients in modern buildings and also functioned as the female forensic in-patient psychiatric center for the southern one-third of Alabama. Over the decades, most of the buildings in the complex had sat unused and slowly fell into disrepair.

In December 2010, property ownership was transferred from the federal government to the Alabama Department of Mental Health under the condition that any proceeds from its sale must be reinvested into mental health initiatives. Searcy Hospital closed its doors in October 2012. Although the land was surveyed, it was never formally appraised, and there has been no expressed interest in acquiring the property since its closure.

Two extensive cemeteries containing up to 700 graves of African American patients are protected by the Alabama Burial Law, yet they have become challenging to find due to dense overgrowth. Additionally, numerous gravesites of Chiricahua Apache Indians were buried in secrecy. While the locations of two Apache villages with log cabins have been identified, a significant amount remains yet to be unearthed.

The visible gravesites are identified by small numbered markers. Still, due to incomplete record-keeping and the loss of records over the years, it has become challenging for family members and loved ones to locate the buried individuals.

The Mount Vernon Arsenal was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970, and the Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 26, 1988. Unfortunately, most of the buildings on the site are in serious deterioration due to compromised roofs, windows, and walls. Since the facility closed, two buildings have collapsed, and many are covered in overgrowth.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Matthan Brown
Instagram: @matthan369
Facebook: Matthan Brown Photography
Website: Matthan Brown Photography

Photo Gallery, Unit 2 Interior

David Bulit

My name's David Bulit and I'm a photographer, author, and historian from Miami, Florida. I've published a number of books on abandoned and forgotten locales throughout the United States and advocate for preserving these historic landmarks. My work has been featured throughout the world in news outlets such as the Miami New Times, the Florida Times-Union, the Tampa Bay Times, the Orlando Sentinel, NPR, Yahoo News, MSN, the Daily Mail, UK Sun, and many others. You can find more of my work at davidbulit.com as well as amazon.com/author/davidbulit.

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