The construction of an insane asylum was usually a welcome event for most towns or cities, since the work meant jobs and a continued money flow into the local economy. Newspapers had little but praise for these projects, as the Knoxville Daily Journal demonstrates:
An article titled “The New Asylum Opened,” and dated March 18, 1886 begins, “. . . the East Tennessee Insane Asylum, which is a branch of the main asylum at Nashville, and is located at Lyon’s View, the most lovely spot in the part of the world.” It continues, “A brief description of the magnificent structure, as it now stands overlooking the Tennessee river and surrounding country commanding some of the most enchanting views in the south . . . . The main front entrance, through a neatly constructed verandah and vestibule, is by means of marble steps, into a broad and stately hall-way, provided with suitable furniture.”
Readers are left to imagine the particulars of the building, but they could scarcely do otherwise than think that the new institution was a fine place for the “unfortunates” who would live there. “Altogether, there are about 185 rooms in the building and annexes, and there are ample accommodations for about 225 patients.” With so much room and an additional 300 acres that would be improved and beautified over time, the asylum sounded almost luxurious.
In summation, readers were told that “this grand structure looms up as a monument to the sound judgment and executive ability of the three able commissioners, who certainly performed the work assigned to them honorably and well . . . .”