Review of “The South Carolina State Hospital – Stories From Bull Street” by William Buchheit

I’ve driven by the State Hospital grounds on Bull Street in downtown Columbia, South Carolina most of my life and have ALWAYS been curious about it.

Thank you, William Buchheit, for shedding light on the mysterious world of the Bull Street hospital and showing us what life was like inside the buildings and on the expansive grounds.

Buchheit does a fantastic job of telling the story of this iconic SC institution and the stories of the people who lived and worked inside the hospital.

I knew very little about “de-institutionalization” and what it meant to the mentally ill until I read this book.

De-institutionalization was a nationwide movement that became popular in the 1980s and resulted in moving mentally ill patients out of state hospitals (a.k.a. “insane asylums”) into less-restrictive community mental health centers and halfway houses.

Many of the patients who were released from hospitals like Bull Street ended up homeless and in prison.

Inside the pages of The South Carolina State Hospital – Stories From Bull Street, you will learn the personal stories of 24 men and women who worked as orderlies, doctors, nurses, and administrators. You will also hear from patients at the hospital.

“Human beings fear the unknown, and most Americans have never seen the inside of a state hospital. In writing this book and telling the stories of these special men and women, I hope to illustrate the iconic Bull Street institution as a place that not only did a lot of good but served a critical purpose.”

William Buchheit

This short, but impactful book was a fascinating look into the history of how the mentally ill have been cared for in our state. The interviews are unforgettable and the numerous photos are surreal.

Happy Reading!

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