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Wernersville State Hospital
The Pennsylvania General Assembly authorized the creation of the State Asylum for the Chronic Insane on June 22, 1891. The facility was to be a public mental hospital for persons needing extended care. Courts were not permitted to make direct admissions to Wernersville; only patients who had at least one year of care at another state mental hospital were eligible for admission. This special role for Wernersville continued until 1923.
Rankin and Kellogg of Philadelphia designed the new hospital buildings, and the overall appearance of the main Administration/residential buildings was modeled after Independence Hall. The total cost for the plant was $472,603.41. The facility plan was considered advanced for the times, as there were no walls surrounding the grounds nor were there bars on the windows and doors. The patients selected were non-violent, but required long-term care. They could freely move in and out of the buildings. The Pennsylvania Legislature's special commission was very impressed by the "fresh air" and spring waters in this rural setting in Berks County. The adjacent area had long been recognized for its fashionable resorts attracting many summer visitors from Philadelphia and New York. Click here for more...