Beaver County Almshouse
|Beaver County Almshouse|
|Building Style||Neo-classical (1916 buildings), 1950s institutional|
The decision to create a poorhouse in Beaver County has its roots in a 1831 Court-House debate, which was unsuccessful in persuading the establishment of such an institution. The topic returned 10 years later only to be defeated in a vote. In another 10 years, in 1851 the issue was yet again placed to a vote, only narrowly passing with a vote of 1,855 to 1,738. As a result the county purchased a farm from George Stone for $6,900 and erected a small one story frame building in what was then Moon Township. It sat on 130 acres of land, with 5 being cultivated and 1 used as a garden. In 1859 another one story frame building was erected on the same site. It was not until 1868 when a more substantial two story brick almshouse was constructed to replace the two older structures. This building was completed in 1870. Due to the low location of the site by the Ohio River the alsmhouse property experienced frequent flooding, on February 7th 1884 having water rise seven feet above the ground level.By 1885 the poor farm could accommodate 100 paupers.
A state report from 1913 indicated the 1870 era building was in very poor condition and cited constant flooding as a problem, and that plans were being drawn up to build a new facility on the same property, but in a location which would no flood. In 1916 this institution opened up a substantial distance from the original almhouse site. It consisted of a central building with two story wings on either side, attached by one story connecting corridors. Designed with in the neo-classical style of architecture the central building sported a large pillared porch. In 1940 a large addition was built to the rear of the 1916 building which added an additional 100 beds. The complex also included the superintendents residence, a morgue, and various farm outbuilding. Unusual was the provision for several jail cells for those paupers who misbehaved.
By the late 1950s the poor house had turned its focus more towards the old and infirm rather than the poor and insane of old. Overcrowding became a problem and in 1956 the infirm were moved into the former Beaver County TB sanatorium in Center Township, which was later donated to become the administration building at Penn State-Beaver. On March 13, 1959 a new five story building was opened up in Beaver, PA, the remaining 220 patients at the Potter Township location moved in the following month. In 1964 when the new east wing was opened the infirm patients were transferred from the former Sanitarium in Brighton. For a brief period from 1975-1978 the county privatized the nursing home under a public board to take advantage of state reimbursements. During this period an annex to the original building, now called west wing, was built in 1976 by this county, increasing the total beds to 676. It was at this time of privatization what the name was changed to the Beaver Valley Geriatric Center, which was retained when it returned to county ownership in 1978.
In 1993 $10 million in renovations were approved for the facility and the name was changed to Friendship Ridge, which is what it is currently know by. It currently provides inpatient and outpatient services for seniors. The old 1916 building and 1940 addition are still standing and in use by the Zinc Corporation as offices.
Images of the Beaver County Almshouse
Main Image Gallery: Beaver County Almshouse