Central Louisiana State Hospital

Vintage image of the Entrance to Central Louisiana State HospitalHistoric postcard showing the entrance to
Central Louisiana State Hospital

The Louisiana Legislature in 1902 authorized a facility to house and treat the mentally ill. Operated under several names since its opening in January 1906 in Pineville, it was later known as Central Louisiana State Hospital. At its peak occupancy in 1959, the hospital cared for over 3,000 patients, but in recent years patient numbers have declined. The hospital campus covers over 400 acres.

Plans were announced by the state in February, 2012, to relocate the hospital to a new facility on land adjacent to the Pinecrest Support and Services Center in Pineville. The hospital will retain its name, identity and function to maintain accreditation.

The Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake in Pineville

Dairy Barn at Central Louisiana State Hospital, Pineville, Louisiana, on a hill overlooking U.S. 165 and Buhlow LakeThe Dairy Barn at Central Louisiana State Hospital overlooking Fort Buhlow Lake

Shown in the photos below is the Central Louisiana State Hospital dairy barn.

This historic two-story frame structure with attached single story wings is located on a hill across U.S. Highway 165 from Buhlow Lake in Pineville Louisiana.

The two wings that jut out from the south end of the main block at angles yield an overall "Y" shape to the structure (see aerial photo of the barn below).

The dairy barn was designed by architect Joseph H. Carlin, and construction began in 1923. Built to accommodate 75 Holstein and Jersey dairy cows, the dairy began operations in 1926, producing over 17,000 gallons of milk a month.

Dairy cattle grazed in pastures to the north of the barn, across U.S. Highway 165. The dairy cows moved from the barn to the pastures via a tunnel under the highway.

Operations on the dairy farm ended when Buhlow lake was constructed in 1956 on part of the dairy pasture land.

The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 15, 1986. Since construction, the removal of the original dairy machinery is the only alteration the building has received other than some structural remediation. In 1994, the Tudor Construction Company replaced 13 wooden arch beams, and added extra support where needed to insure the integrity of the building.

Various efforts have been made over the years to restore the historic structure. In late 2014 another effort began to save and restore the barn. The project, led by Kendra Van Cleef, is drawing attention across the region. Fore more information and details, link to:

Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake page on Facebook

Save the Dairy Barn website

On the other side of the Red River, in Alexandria near MacArthur Drive and the Leesville highway, was the Chaptico Dairy.

Photographs of the Dairy Barn at Central Louisiana State Hospital

The Dairy Barn at Lake Buhlow (photo courtesy of Erik Larson)
Photograph of the historic Dairy Barn at Central Louisiana State Hospital, Pineville, La., showing its classic red roof

Close-up view of the Dairy Barn at Central Louisiana State Hospital across from Lake Buhlow
(photo courtesy of Erik Larson)
Photograph of the historic Dairy Barn at Central Louisiana State Hospital, near Lake Buhlow, Pineville, La., showing its classic red roof

View of the Dairy Barn at Central Louisiana State Hospital
looking across U.S. Highway 165 to Lake Buhlow in the background
View of the Dairy Barn at Central Louisiana State Hospital looking across US 165 to Lake Buhlow

Aerial view of the Dairy Barn at Lake Buhlow
Aerial view of the Dairy Barn at Lake Buhlow in Pineville, Louisiana

Map of Central Louisiana State Hospital showing the location of the dairy barn

Map of Central Louisiana State Hospital showing the location of the dairy barn

Tours of the Dairy Barn

Several times a year the Committee for the Preservation and Enhancement of The Central Louisiana State Hospital Cemetery conducts tours of the Historical Sites on the grounds of the hospital. The Dairy Barn, Rose Cottage and the Cemetery are all on the Historical Register.

The tours are free of charge but donations are accepted. Funds raised will be used to erect the memorial at the cemetery. Highlights of a tour in 2012 are shown in the YouTube videos below.

Tour of the downstairs of the Central Louisiana State Hospital Dairy Barn
Tour of the upstairs of the Central Louisiana State Hospital Dairy Barn

Read more about the history of Central Louisiana State Hospital