LaRue D. Carter Hospital was a psychiatric facility that opened in 1952. It was named for Dr. Larue Depew Carter, who was instrumental in establishing the Indiana Mental Health Council in 1945.

U.S. Veterans Administration Hospital at 2601 Cold Spring Road, Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1965
Credit: The Indiana Album: Joan Hostetler Collection

The hospital was built at the Indiana University School Of Medicine near downtown Indianapolis at 1350 West 10th Street for $4,700,000. Construction began in January 1948, with the first patients admitted in July 1952.

Larue Carter was the first specialized hospital for screening patients with mental illness. Only patients who had never been admitted to a mental institution were accepted. The hospital’s goal was to identify patients in the early stages of mental disease to intervene, treat, and return them to their community as soon as possible.

Dr. Larue Depew Carter, ca. 1940s
Credit: Athanatos via Find A Grave

The facility had 250 beds for 100 men, 100 women, and 50 children and was the first in the state to treat mentally ill children. Early in its existence, the average stay was 60 days and 70 percent of those discharged did not need further hospitalization.

In 1953, low staffing (due to low salaries) meant only 50 patients were admitted at a time. At the same time, the hospital was criticized because while it stood virtually empty, Marion County General Hospital’s psychiatric ward was overflowing and at least 30 inmates with mental health issues were being housed in the Marion County Jail. The county proposed to rent one of the vacant wings and staff it with their own employees to relieve the situation. In August of 1953, the children’s ward had not yet admitted any patients.

Eventually, conditions improved, and the hospital successfully admitted patients, trained new resident physicians, and secured funding for many research projects.

During its tenure, the hospital saw the advent of many new drugs that completely changed the way the mentally ill were medically treated. Soon after the facility opened, thorazine and reserpine came into use. Other aspects of mental health emerged and staff at Larue Carter participated in pioneering research projects that studied autism.

Occupational Therapy at Larue Carter Memorial Hospital, 1962
Credit: University Library, IUPUI via Indiana State Library

In 1996, the downtown hospital building was abandoned and the patients moved to the site of the former Veterans Administration Hospital at 2601 Cold Spring Road, a facility that needed very little modification to accommodate Carter’s caseload. The original Larue D. Carter building was closed and ultimately demolished to make way for the new sidney & lois eskenazi hospital.

A 2006 plan to build a new Carter Hospital on West 16th Street near Methodist Hospital never materialized, and the Cold Spring Road facility remained. In 2019, the new Neuro-Diagnostic Institute on East 16th Street opened next to Community Hospital East and replaced Larue Carter Hospital’s services. Patient transfers to the new facility were complete on March 20, 2019.

Revised July 2021
 

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