South Carolina Department of Archives and History
National Register Properties in South Carolina

Babcock Building-South Carolina State Hospital, Richland County (Bull St., Columbia )
S1081774006401 S1081774006402 S1081774006403 S1081774006404 S1081774006405
Facade Right Oblique
Central Block
Right Wing Left Wing Left Oblique
S1081774006406 S1081774006407 S1081774006408 S1081774006409 S1081774006410
Left Elevation Left Rear
Left Rear
Rear Elevation
Central Block
Right Rear
S1081774006411 S1081774006412      
Cupola Detail

(New South Carolina State Asylum) The Babcock Building at the South Carolina State Hospital in Columbia was built in four campaigns, between 1857 and 1885, as the new asylum for the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum. The building is significant as the work of two distinguished architects, George E. Walker, a native of Charleston, and Samuel Sloan, a native of Pennsylvania. Actual construction during Walker’s lifetime was limited to the three northernmost blocks of the south wing, but these three blocks established the composition, scale, and style of the entire building. Gustavus T. Berg, in 1880-82, built the north wing in mirror image of the completed south wing. Sloan’s center building united the composition, and provided a focal center for the asylum. The building is also significant as an exceptional example of Italian Renaissance Revival design. The Babcock Building embodies the dedication of the state of South Carolina to the provision of adequate and comfortable care and housing for the mentally ill. The building follows, in overall plan, siting, landscaping and interior arrangements, the “Kirkbride system” for insane asylum design advocated by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride of Philadelphia. It is probable that the construction of the new asylum was inspired, in part, by the dramatic crusade in support of improved facilities for the mentally ill, led by Dorothea Lydne Dix, that was then sweeping the country. Listed in the National Register October 30, 1981.

View the complete text of the nomination form for this National Register property. In addition, the Historic Resources of Columbia includes historical background information for this and other related National Register properties.

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