Cherry Hospital Expanded Mental Health Care

A historical postcard of Cherry Hospital

On August 1, 1880, the first patient enrolled at what is now Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro. The hospital was set up to serve North Carolina’s black population.

Mental health care in North Carolina can be traced to Dorothea Dix’s appeals to the legislature in 1848 and the opening, in 1856, of the hospital in Raleigh that bears her name. In 1883, the state opened what is now Broughton Hospital in Morganton to serve the western region.

The site in Goldsboro was selected in part because it was near the center of the state’s black population.  Originally known as the “Asylum for the Colored Insane,” the institution’s name was changed in 1959 to Cherry Hospital to honor former governor R. Gregg Cherry. A commission study in 1937 sharply criticized care at the mental hospitals in the state, and most of the older buildings were replaced in the 1930s and 1940s.

The hospital remained segregated until 1965 when, to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the state’s mental institutions were integrated. Today Cherry Hospital maintains an association with the School of Medicine at East Carolina University and serves patients from 38 eastern counties.

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