Dixmont State Hospital

In response to a lack of appropriate accomodations in western Pennsylvania, the Western Pennsylvania Asylum for the Insane at Dixmont was founded in the late 1850's and began taking patients in 1862. Dorothea Dix was personally involved with many aspects of founding the asylum — including the adoption of the Kirkbride plan — and the institution was named in her honor. The hospital ran until 1984 when it was closed permanently.

Sitting halfway up a hill overlooking the Ohio River, the Dixmont Kirkbride, also known as Reed Hall, was a desolate ruin for the last few years of its life. An extensive fire in its center and nearly two decades of exposure to the elements and vandalism left little more than a shell. The interior was strikingly bare and crumbling. Interestingly, the terminal sections of this building's wings come forward of the previous sections instead of being set back from them as with most other Kirkbrides. There is also a lack of ornamentation which gives the impression of a more spartan design than was typical of other Kirkbride buildings. This may not be the case, since its difficult to tell how much has been destroyed or removed. But even with some ornamentation, the stark lines and predominance of brick indicate that the building was rather modestly designed.

Demolition of this building is now complete. There were plans to build a Wal-Mart on the grounds once the hospital buildings were gone, but that won't happen now. A number of landslides at the site have proven that the land is no longer suitable for building. Wal-Mart will create a meadow and leave the land empty as part of a plan to stabilize the area.

Other names for this hospital:

  • Western Pennsylvania Asylum for the Insane

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