The Harding Hospital

For over 80 years, Worthington was home to a residential psychiatric treatment program. 2016 marks the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Harding Hospital; learn more by browsing our August exhibit.

Founded in Worthington in 1916 by Dr. George T. Harding II, the Harding Hospital operated on East Dublin-Granville Road until 1999. As one of the earliest programs in psychiatric medicine in the United States, the hospital trained psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, art therapists and more.

The treatments offered at the hospital included electroshock therapy (now called electroconvulsive therapy or ECT), a procedure that remains controversial. Mental illness carried a heavy stigma throughout much of the 20th century, a situation that has only recently begun to improve. While procedures such as ECT have evolved and are currently embraced by some in the medical community, the treatments offered a century ago would be viewed as primitive by today’s standards.

In addition to its psychiatric treatments, the hospital was a residential home for patients. The rural, 50-acre campus centered on a main building known as the Lodge. From 1919 until it was razed in 1981, the building acted as a dining hall, meeting place and rooming house.

The Lodge was also the site of a bit of presidential history. Harding Hospital’s founder, Dr. George T. Harding II, was a younger brother to the 29th U.S. president, Warren G. Harding. The elder Harding kicked off his official campaign for president on August 11, 1920, with a speech made from the Lodge's porch to a crowd of about 500 people.

In 1999, the hospital was integrated into The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, and the campus was sold to Step By Step Academy, a mental health treatment program for people with autism and developmental disabilities. Have a look through the exhibit below to peruse the Hospital’s past in Worthington.