Down on Bull Street

An original documentary about the Bull Street facility at the South Carolina State Hospital in Columbia, SC will premiere on statewide educational television in May 2015 during Mental Health Awareness Month. SC Humanities supported Down on Bull Street with a Planning Grant and a Major Grant.

The Bull Street facility is layered with a rich and complex history spanning over 190 years. The doors to the Asylum first opened in 1827, offering refuge for the mentally ill in one centralized location in the center of the state. This new facility promoted the idea of moral treatment – a new concept which promoted healing not from previous barbaric practices, but through humane treatment and consideration for a patient’s emotions and environmental concerns.

As the hospital grew, it became self-sustaining with a bakery, farm, dairy, and laundry; but was always self-contained, surrounded by a wall to keep the patients separated from the outside world. This centralized model of treatment was abandoned in the 1980s and the move to integrate patients back into their statewide communities via mental health clinics and centers was achieved. Since the 1980s, services at The Bull Street campus have been removed, and the buildings serve as a decaying reminder of what once was.

Down on Bull Street is a one-hour documentary produced by SCETV that explores the evolution and history of the SC State Hospital and its struggle to provide services to South Carolina’s mentally ill. The film will have its broadcast premiere on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. as a part of Carolina Stories. It will also be shown on May 10, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. on SCETV and on May 11, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. on the SC Channel.

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. SC Humanities programs and initiatives are balanced, reflecting sensitivity to the diversity of ideas, encourage open dialogue, demonstrate integrity, and are ethical in operations.

Image: Babcock Building, Courtesy Fielding Freed