Providence Retreat

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Providence Retreat
Providence Retreat
Established 1860
Construction Began 1860
Opened 1860
Building Style Kirkbride Plan
Location Buffalo, NY
Alternate Names Providence Lunatic Asylum


Description from 1912 -

“Providence Retreat,” of, as it was then known, “The Providence Lunatic Asylum,” the oldest institution for the care of the insane in Western New York, was built by the community known as “The Sisters of Charity” in the yea 1860 and occupied August 15 of the same year.

The incentive for building the institution was furnished by a visit paid by the foundress, Sister Rosaline Brown, to the County Hospital, where the insane were kept at that time, there being no state hospital nearer than Utica. The conditions and surroundings filler her with compassion for the poor unfortunates, many of whom were restrained by means of chains, or tied to posts or stationary chairs; their clothing was scant, their food of the poorest.

Determined to erect a hospital for this particular class, she secured permission from her Superior, and being without funds, she begged and borrowed money from her friends, among whom she numbered many of Buffalo’s prominent citizens, the late ex-President Cleveland being among the benefactors.

Thirty acres of land were purchased and a portion of the building was erected thereon. The struggle to maintain and properly care for the patients was a hard one; being out of the city, no gas or water could be obtained; candles served for light, and water had to be conveyed in barrels a distance of a mile every day or so. The majority of the patients were county charges for a number of years.

Dr. William Ring of Buffalo was appointed physician-in-charge in 1862 and remained as such up to his death in 1887.

His successors were Dr. F. S. Crego and Dr. G. Ring, serving up to 1891, when Dr. Harry A. Wood became physician-in-charge.

Additions to the original building were made from time to time up to April, 1905, when a new building costing $45,000 was started. This building was completed and occupied for the first time on November 7, 1907.

Dr. H. A. Wood resigned in May, 1902, and was succeeded by Dr. J.J. Twohey, who had been assistant since 1898. Dr. Wm. C. Krauss was appointed medical superintendent and remained in that position up to his death in September, 1909.

No public patients are now treated at this institution. Modern methods are pursued in the care of patients, and the institution is equipped with everything needful.

The “Providence Retreat,” as it is now known, is licensed by the State Hospital Commission for the care of private insane patients.

Besides these, there are treated yearly 600 alcoholic and drug cases; many voluntary patients, neurasthenics, border line cases are admitted, coming from every state in the Union and from Canada.

Medical officers of Providence Retreat since its inception:

Dr. William Ring of Buffalo, N.Y., physician-in-charge from 1863 to 1887.

Dr. Floyd S. Crego and Dr. William G. Ring, physician-in-charge from 1887 to 1891.

Dr. Harry A. Wood, physician-in-charge from 1891 to 1902.

Dr. John J. Twohey, physician-in-charge from 1902 to the present time.

Dr. William C. Krauss, chief of staff from 1902 until his death in 1909.

Images of Providence Retreat[edit]