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Brief History of the Colorado Mental Health Institute


CMHIP opened on October 23, 1879 as the Colorado State Insane Asylum on 40 acres of land in northwest Pueblo donated by George M. Chilcott, Colorado's first United States senator. The Institutes name was changed to Colorado State Hospital in 1917 and grew from 12 patients to an all-time high of over 6,100 patients in 1961. Like many state psychiatric hospitals at that time, it was a self-contained city, providing all the patients' needs within 75 buildings on 300 acres of land on the main grounds and 5,000 acres at the dairy farm.


The year 1962 would transform the hospital drastically with a change in the philosophy and treatment of the mentally ill and new medications specifically for mental disorders. This would eventually provide for the return of many patients back to their communities for treatment in less restrictive facilities. In 1991, it was renamed the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. By 2008, the patient census declined to less than 500 patients and remains that way today.


Some artifacts you will see on display include:





An ornate brass doorknob from the original male center built in 1883.
















The first safe used in 1879; notice hand-painted lettering and scenery.


















An oil painting of fourth superintendent Dr. Frank Zimmerman
done by a patient in 1940.













Links to History Articles



More detailed articles regarding the Institute's history will be added to this web site as time allows.
However, if you have a particular interest, please contact us at


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