“The Crazy Hill” for any Bahamian kid growing up, in the hundred years or so since it was occupied in the year 1899, was that would be fabled bogeyman of a place— a childhood cavern of homework purgatory—- where all unruly children were threatened with permanent exile to, should they not find common sense and obey their elders.
I remember my grandmothers and mother saying a thousand times…, ‘yinna chirren ain’t gonna drive me crazy, cause me go on the Crazy Hill.’ It was so often said, one quite naturally took it to be apocryphal or the usual childhood admonishments to be quickly ignored.
Actually, “The Crazy Hill” was a real place in Bahamian history, which performed an important and compassionate function in society.
“The Crazy Hill” was the early mental health hospital, for men, that was built near Fort Fincastle in the year 1899.
The story of “ The Crazy Hill” began in 1897
1897 – Nothing much was being planned for Queen Victoria’s 60th Anniversary, so the House of Assembly quickly decided to lay a cornerstone for a new lunatic asylum
According to the 2016 Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre Diamond Jubilee Anniversary booklet, the cornerstone for the “The Crazy Hill,” which in 1897 was located just behind Fort Fincastle, was laid to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Queen Victoria as monarch of Great Britain.
1897 – House of Assembly was unprepared and was looking for a last minute way to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 60th Anniversary as Queen of Great Britain
In April 1897, the Nassau Guardian wrote in its editorial, that the no steps had been taken thus far to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 60 years on throne. The newspaper was crying shame on the political powers at the time, namely, the House of Assembly and Governor Frederick Haynes Smith, for their lack of planning, local events, to mark such an important milestone for the Empire.
Monies, all of £500, was hastily set aside for the construction of a new Asylum to accommodate male lunatics
A token amount was initially set aside for the construction of the asylum in 1897. However, it would not be finally completed and occupied until
Why it had taken so very long for the government to complete is undoubtedly attributable to finding funding out of public revenue.
The cornerstone for a new male lunatic asylum, was laid on 22nd June 1897, but it would take two long years before the building was actually completed.
Cornerstone laid on Tuesday, 22nd June 1897
The corner stone for “The Crazy Hill “was laid in 1897 by the then Governor of The Bahamas, Sir William Haynes Smith on Coronation Day. As a memorial to the diamond jubilee of the late Majesty, Queen Victoria, the Male Lunatic Ward was built and occupied with patients in 1899, and was given the name “The Crazy Hill”.
1899 – To commemorate 62nd anniversary of Queen Victoria, The Crazy Hill Opens
Buildings and wards had been completed for a few months before opening. The delay in actually occupying the Asylum had more to do with security. Walls and fences needed to be built before those who would occupy the space could be moved in.