September 28, 2011
SOWK 604-Poor House Assignment
Location- Mercer County, Pennsylvania
The Mercer County Home and Hospital was opened to residents in January of 1853. As part of an initiative which began in 1830 by an act of the PA General Assembly and passed into legislation on March 22, 1850, the exploration of a site to build what would eventually be known to locals as the Mercer County Poor Farm began. By 1851, a site was purchased and then discarded due to poor location. A second developmental site was purchased in 1852 and the original facility on 83 acres became home to an initial 14 residents. Over a time span of almost 80 years, land would be purchased and developed with three residential facilities erected to house the county’s poor. Known as Avalon Springs, the most recent construction and third building overall was built in 1960, is still in use as a skilled nursing center. All totaled, the land purchased for use by the Mercer County Home and Hospital equaled 353.85 acres. Past history
The Mercer County Hospital and Home became known locally as the county poor farm. The facility acquired this nickname due to the role that agriculture would come to play for both the residents and the community. The use of agriculture provided not only nourishment to the residents of the home, as well as Mercer County Jail inmates, but also served as a means of employment for those who were able bodied and capable of manual labor on the grounds. At its height of production, the farm consisted of three houses, two chicken coups, two slaughter houses, a refrigeration house, a dairy barn, and a pig barn along with other buildings needed for the successful production of an area farm. During the 1950’s, the farm was at its peak production with pigs, chickens, dairy cattle, and beef cows. Crops grew fruits and vegetables and the “poor farm” was self sufficient. The function of the farm continued in this fashion until legislation regarding the...