Although there were several single-family homes built at Saint Elizabeths for staff who lived on the site, only one was built for patient care. In 1886, Sarah Borrows, a patient from a wealthy Washingtonian family, was admitted to Saint Elizabeths. Her mother, C.Z. Borrows, concerned with Sarah’s care, had a cottage built on campus for her daughter and other female patients from affluent families. In 1893, Ms. Borrows admitted herself into the hospital and lived in the same cottage until her death in 1917. The cottage was named for the family but was often misspelled in later years, and is now known as Burroughs Cottage.
As Dr. William W. Godding took over the responsibilities of Saint Elizabeths, he valued the idea of having more cottage-like structures on the campus, instead of larger facilities like the Center Building. Before fully embracing the "cottage plan" he would later value, Godding had plans to construct a larger hospital for female patients. Saint Elizabeths was experiencing overcrowding under his supervision and Godding believed that the campus needed another large facility; however, the success of the smaller, more cottage-like facilities had a significantly more positive effect on the patients living in them. With this effect in front of him, Godding could not ignore the benefits of having patients live in cottages, so he decided to support this new plan instead. To Godding, this created a more homey setting throughout the campus, and allowed patients to live in smaller groups that would help their social lives and interactions with one another.
The Burroughs Cottage includes two stories and a basement. The exterior of the cottage is brick with brownstone trim that was later painted white. The floor plan and interior of the cottage is relatively simple. Similar to other buildings on the campus grounds, the Burroughs Cottage sits empty and unused.