Slobot About Town CXXX:

Slobot goes to Bull Street, pt. 02!

Slobot was hanging out at the Babcock Building...

on Bull Street...

at the South Carolina State Hospital... in Columbia!

The Babcock is Slobot's favorite Bull Street Building. When it was built, the building was known simply as the New Asylum. The New Asylum was built to relieve overcrowding in the Old Asylum (now the Mills Building). Though construction began in 1857, completion was delayed by Secession, War and Reconstruction.

The Babcock Building was built via four construction campaigns. Those sprees took place from 1857-58, 1870-76, 1880-82 and 1883-85. In 1969 the New Asylum was named the Babcock in honor of Dr. James W. Babcock, superintendent of the State Hospital from 1891-1914.

In the fall of 1980 patients were vacated from the north and south wings of the Babcock Building. Overcrowding, however, drove patients back into Babcock a year later. Patients were removed from Babcock forever around 1990. Babcock has been shuttered and altogether abandoned since 1996.

The 2007 Kevin Bacon vehicle Death Sentence was filmed in Columbia. Here, in this screencap, we see a bad guy doing bad guy stuff in front of Babcock.

There is hope, however, for the Babcock as it is slated to be saved and renovated as part of Hughes Development Corporation's development of the site.

The agreement between the South Carolina Department of Mental Health and Hughes Development Corp is such that the property will be purchased as it is developed.

Hughes wants to build a sprawling neighborhood of homes, stores, greenspaces and even a baseball park.

Several Bull Street campus properties are set to be preserved and (so far) those are the aforementioned Babcock (and its north and south wings), the Male and Female dining halls, the central portion of the Williams Building and the Chapel of Hope.

Also protected is the Mills-Jarrett building (Old Asylum), which is not part of the property being sold to Hughes.

The bad guys of Death Sentence hang out back behind Babcock by the old laundry.

In 1916 cafeterias designed by George E. Lafaye were added to the Babcock Building complex. The men's cafeteria is situated to the south...

while the women's is situated to the north.

In the 1988 film, Chattahoochee, we can see - in addition to Frances McDormand's behind - the rear of Babcock.

Chattahoochee stars Gary Oldman as Emmett Foley, a Korean War veteran committed to Chattahoochee mental hospital. Here we see the cupola of the Babcock building in an establishing shot of the fictional Chattahoochee mental hospital.

Chattahoochee is loosely based on the very real Chris Calhoun. Calhoun was committed to Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, Florida.

On Valentine's Day, 1956 Calhoun decided to kill himself.

But before shooting himself, Calhoun decided to take some shots at the neighbors. When police arrived, Calhoun refused to lower his gun. The police gave fire and missed. Calhoun then took a shot of his own, a shot straight into his own chest.

Calhoun managed to survive the self-inflicted gun shot and was subsequently committed to the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, Florida.

What Calhoun found at the Florida State Hospital would shock the nation. The conditions were deplorable, including WWI-era trench toilets, and his treatment was even worse. Calhoun was prescribed electroshock therapy, but that was nothing compared to the decidedly nontheraputic beatings he received.

Calhoun began to write of his ordeal. His original audience was his sister, to whom he passed his notes. Calhoun's correspondence made its way to a reporter at the Tampa Tribune. The state would investigate, and confirm, Calhoun's claims.

Congress would, in the wake of the Florida State Hospital scandal, pass a piece of legislation known as the Community Mental Health Centers Act. The law created a new structure to mental health care - a structure that went beyond the hospital and into the community. The South Carolina State Hospital, like Florida State Hospital, would discharge patients, and the so-called deinstitutionalization of America's mental health care system began. Calhoun was discharged in 1962.

Behind the Babcock Building is the Laundry Building.

The Laundry dates to ~1888 and was not originally intended to serve as a laundry. Instead, it was built to be a powerhouse.

The really bad, bad guy of Death Sentence parks his car by the laundry/powerhouse.

At ~1:00 pm on June 2, 1897 the laundry caught fire. Luckily all inside were able to escape without serious injury. 

An article from The State newspaper described the fire thusly “the building, which was a handsome brick structure, is a total loss, save for the walls. It was an electric dynamo plant, which originally cost $6,000.” Other losses in the fire included valuable laundry machinery, clothing, an engine, and three boilers. Dr. Babcock placed the losses at $20,000.

The old Laundry survived the 1897 fire, and it looks like it will survive the development of the Bull Street campus.

Stay tuned for more of Slobot on Bull Street!

Slobot would like to thank the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, its staff and especially its law enforcement division, digitizingbullstreet.com, Real Mexico and YOU!