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Chestnut Lodge was a private psychiatric hospital that sioneered the treatment of schizophrenia through psychoanalysis.
In 1886, Charles G. Wilson commissioned an architect to build a four-story brick "summer boarding house" on 5 acres of land he had purchased in the west of Rockville. During the construction of the building, Wilson filed for bankruptcy, and the unfinished building was bought for $6000 by Mary J. Colley (the owner of the Clarendon Hotel in Washington DC) and her partner Charles W. Bell. Under their ownership, the building was opened as the Woodlawn Hotel in the spring of 1889. The hotel boasted electric bells, gas lighting and 40 luxurious guest rooms and was extremely successful, catering for rich visitors from Washington DC who often boarded in the hotel during the summer months.
After a decade or so of prosperity, however, the fortunes of the Woodlawn Hotel declined as many of its semi-permanent residents moved into new houses in Rockville. In 1906 the hotel's owners were heavily in debt and were forced to sell the building and grounds at public auction. The hotel was purchased by Dr. Ernest L. Bullard, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a surgeon and professor of psychiatry and neurology. Bullard renovated the building and re-opened it in 1910 as a sanitarium for the care of nervous and mental diseases, re-naming it Chestnut Lodge after the 125 chestnut trees that grew in the grounds.
For many years, Bullard was the sole physician working at the Lodge, but over the next 75 years a total of three generations of the Bullard family operated the private hospital. Many nationally renowned therapists, including Frieda Fromm-Reichmann and Otto Will, worked at the hospital over the years.
In 1997 the lodge was purchased by CPC Health, and passed hands again to the Washington Waldorf School in 2001 when CPC Health declared bankruptcy. In December 2003, the property was conveyed to Chestnut Lodge Properties, Inc.
- McGlashan T (1984). The Chestnut Lodge follow-up study: II. Long-term outcome of schizophrenia and the affective disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry. 41: 586–601.
- Silver A-L (1997). Chestnut Lodge, then and now: Work with a patient with schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder. Contemp. Psychoanal. 33: 227–49.
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