Harrisburg State Hospital
The establishment of a hospital for the relief of the insane poor of the state claimed the attention of the philanthropic at an early date. The first movement was made by the citizens of Philadelphia, who adopted a memorial which they presented to the Legislature at the session of 1838-39. A bill authorizing the erection of a state lunatic hospital was prepared and passed both houses, but did not receive the sanction of the Governor. Subsequently an act was passed March 4, 1841, authorizing the Governor to appoint three commissioners to select a site and superintend a suitable building for the purpose. The spot selected was on the Schuylkill River, two miles from Gray's Ferry, below Philadelphia. Preparations were made for commencing the erection of the building, when operations were suspended.
The subject was not permitted to rest, but was kept before the public until, in 1844, Miss Dorothea L. Dix, having visited and examined the almshouses and jails throughout the state, presented to the Legislature a memorial setting forth the condition of the insane and urging upon the members the necessity and duty of providing some means for their treatment and proper maintenance.
Acting in accordance with these suggestions, the Legislature in the spring of 1845 appointed five commissioners as follows: Jacob M.Haldeman (who served until 1848 and then withdrew), Luther Reily, Hugh Campbell, Charles B. Trego and Joseph Konigmacher, to select and purchase a tract of land for a hospital site, of not less than 100 acres, situated within ten miles of Harrisburg, and not to cost more than $10,000; to contract for the building and furnishing of a hospital that should be plain and substantial, with all modern improvements, to accommodate 250 patients; for which building the sum of $50,000 was appropriated. The hospital was to be called the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital and Union Asylum for the Insane. Click here for more...