Remains Reinterred at Eastern State Hospital Cemetery

May 15, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. - After two years of analysis by the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, the remains of 178 people have been placed back in the ground at the Eastern State Hospital cemetery.

The Lexington mental hospital is one of the oldest facilities of its kind in the country. Analysis of property deeds and buttons found in the coffins indicate that the former hospital patients died sometime in the mid-1800s, likely during an outbreak of cholera.

“Still, they were all placed carefully in a coffin, and often times wearing their best clothing. Some were wearing hair combs or jewelry. So there was an attempt to treat them with respect at death,” says archaeologist Dr. David Pollack.

The remains were carefully exhumed from an unmarked gravesite in 2011 as Bluegrass Community and Technical College began work on a new classroom building at the property.

Most of the remains were buried in wood coffins, but archaeologists found one well-preserved iron casket that researchers chose not to open.

Eastern State is moving to a new hospital later this summer.