Dr. Peter & Mrs. Ellen Peter-Bryce Gravesite Tuscaloosa County



Dr. Peter & Mrs. Ellen Peter-Bryce Gravesite
Tuscaloosa County


Dr. Peter Bryce, first superintendent of the Alabama Insane (Bryce) Hospital was a leading proponent of humane treatment of people who experience mental illness. Born March 5, 1834, in Columbia SC, Bryce entered the South Carolina Military Academy (The Citadel), at age 17 and later received his medical degree from New York University in 1859. Upon graduation, Dr.Bryce worked for the State Hospital of New Jersey at Trenton and then the State Hospital for the Insane at Columbia, SC. Dorothea Lynde Dix recommended him for the superintendent position of the Alabama Insane Hospital at Tuscaloosa. Miss Dix had worked with Tuscaloosa’s Senator Robert Jemison to convince the Alabama legislature to fund construction of what became one of the first progressive “moral treatment” mental hospitals in the United States. Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan designed the structure according to specifications of Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, the leading mental health authority of the time, and creator of the Kirkbride Linear Plan, wherein the building became part of the treatment. On November 28, 1860, Dr.Bryce married Maria Ellen Clarkson from Columbia, SC.
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(Continued from other side)
The couple moved to Tuscaloosa where Dr. Bryce supervised the hospital, which had been under construction since 1853. In the summer of 1861, the first patient was admitted. The Bryces lived in an apartment in the hospital’s center pavilion and Mrs. Bryce joined her husband in implementing the moral treatment movement’s theories. She surrounded patients with beauty and also enhanced the landscaping of the hospital grounds. Mrs. Bryce organized pleasant activities for the patients including art and music programs. Following moral treatment philosophy, male patients worked on the hospital farm and female patients performed domestic chores. These therapeutic activities were essential during the Civil War when the hospital, with no funds from the state, relied on its own farm produce to remain open. Dr. Bryce died of Bright’s disease in 1892 and, at his request, was buried on the hospital’s front lawn. In 1929, Mrs. Bryce was buried beside him. The hospital was renamed in Dr. Bryce’s honor for his contributions to the humane treatment of people who experience mental illness.


Placed by the Alabama Historical Commission Susan and Brad Cork and the Bryce Hospital Historic Preservation Committee

Date Placed


Specific placement information

On Bryce property lawn, southwest


33.213417, -87.539507


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