Perry County Poorhouse

Category Exploration Date Status Province / State Country
Schools and Institutions Demolished Pennsylvania United States

History: 

The land on which this building stands was originally purchased from Adam Bernheisel in April, 1810. The almshouse that was subsequently built, and all of the records, were destroyed by fire in 1839. It was rebuilt but became insufficient to suit the needs by 1870.

A report in 1870 indicates that, aside from the main almshouse, there was also a "mad house" on the property. It contained 8 cells for the insane.

The current building, pictured here, was built in 1871 and contained 72 rooms. Those staying here worked the farm that helped to support them.

It is interesting to note that, at least initially, insane inmates were kept on the second floor (actually 3 floors up as the "basement" was actually above ground) and chained to the floor to guard against window escapes.

It is noted that at some point after 1873, a separate brick building on the property was used to contain the more violent insane inmates.

PERRY COUNTY Poor House
Visited August 12, 1880

This alms house has been described in former reports as having been well built and arranged It is modern in style and contains the necessary conveniences for preserving a good household condition and for the comfortable accommodations of its inmates It has longitudinal and transverse halls of ample diameter good water and heating arrangements with bath and water closets at the ends of the corridors on each floor.

It admits of thorough separation of sexes there being a right and left wing with the proper safeguards for their accommodation.

The cook and laundry work is conducted in the basement which is entirely above ground and forms the first story There are dining rooms with elevators from the kitchen on each floor.

The house is conducted in a proper manner The inmates are distributed with reference to considerations of comfort and convenience and according to their various conditions The females occupy one wing on the first and part of another on the third stories The men the working class occupy the opposite wing on the last named story.

The work of the farm which consists of one hundred and seventy acres is performed by the inmates and of the house also without any hired help whatever.

The moderately insane are kept in the main building A separate one story brick building has been fitted up for the bad cases It contains four apartments which are of good size well lighted and in other respects made sufficiently comfortable.

There were 90 inmates at the time of my inspection about one half of each sex and 18 children forming part of the whole population Children when of sufficient age are sent to the public school in the village of Loysville which is at a convenient distance.

Pages 171-172 Annual Report of Pennsylvania Board of Commissioners of Public Charities


Personal Commentary: 

I pulled into the driveway next to this place, and saw an older gentleman on the lawn along with an assortment of lawnmowers that I assumed must have been for sale. I spoke to him at length and he was kind enough to grant permission for me to look around and take pictures.

Unfortunately, the interior was off-limits given concern for its deterioration, so I was horsed to content myself with exteriors. Possibly that was just as well given that I could see several collapsed floors through the upper floor windows.


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