Virgina Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story

The Treatment of the Poor in Antebellum Virginia
James D. Watkinson
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of  Virginia Cavalcade, the quarterly illustrated magazine 
of Virginia history and culture published by the Library of Virginia. All rights reserved. Used by permission. 
2000 by the Library of Virginia.
the Poorhouse Story
Here is a lovely lesson in how to find poorhouses!                      >>> 

(Help us identify the photographer.)

VA_PoorHouseRoad_Overpass.jpg (65951 bytes)

the Poorhouse Story

Machipongo, Virginia
County] County]

Photo by Wayne Stith 




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See the FULL STORY of a WONDERFUL DEDICATION CEREMONY --  at the WYTHE County Poorhouse Farm -- which was held June 16, 2001
Here is a  link to this inspiring  story about the successful efforts of a married couple to restore the poorhouse in Wythe County  and turn it into a museum! We have featured that in our News Alerts section ... along with the newspaper article about the listing of this poorhouse on the National Register of historic places ...  to inspire others in other locations to follow their dedicated example.
the Poorhouse Story

The Rivanna Trail Foundation maintains a trail (Meadow Creek Headwaters Trail) which passes by the foundation of Albemarle County's 1806 Poor House of Charlottesville.

Franklin County Poor House Directors (1854-1870)

Map to "Poor Farm Park" -- Ashland  [Hanover County] -- Just 20 minutes north of Richmond, VA on I-95. Get off on the Ashland Exit State Road 54, it is the second 54 exit. Keep on this road about 5 miles until you see a sign saying and pointing toward Poor Farm Park. The park is behind Patrick Henry High School's Soccer Field.

Loudoun County Poor House -- Now a Bed & Breakfast!
(Good history notes included.)
[Here is a little irony! See this advertisement for the sale of this "12 acres, two period restored houses, circa 1814, currently a Bed and Breakfast, numerous outbuildings, pond, mountain views $599,000."  PHL ]

"The Almshouse for the city of Norfolk, VA, [Norfolk County]  exists today as Lake Taylor Hospital, a nursing home.  This almshouse was founded in 1885 and moved to it's current location around 1890.  I believe all the original buildings have been demolished.  The conversion from a poor house to a nursing facility began in the 1930's.  [There is a little more information] on the Lake Taylor Hospital website at
     (reader who wishes to remain anonymous)

"The Norfolk County Almhouse was located at Great Bridge, VA on Poor House Road (now Cedar Road).  This facility operated until the 1950's.  The City of Chesapeake Civic Center complex now covers the entire site.   Norfolk County is today the modern City of Chesapeake."
     Doug Smith

Darlene Spencer just submitted a great deal of information about the Patrick County Poorhouse. This included a brief history as well as census reports and deaths -- which are listed below.

"In Princess Anne County VA, now the City of Virginia Beach VA, the almshouse was located somewhere on a tract of land on Poor House Road, renamed in 1932 Prosperity Road.  Today Prosperity Road is home to Red Wing Park, Red Wing Golf Course, Camp Pendleton and Wadsworth Naval Housing.  I have never seen any pictures of this facility and very little, if anything, has ever been written.  However, anyone familiar with the area is aware of the ambiguous road designation Prosperity Road." 
     (reader who wishes to remain anonymous) 

"My oral family history indicates that my Grandfather Mr. John Robert Waite was the keeper of the poor at his farm near Independent Hill, Prince William County, Virginia in the late 1920s or early 1930s. This was a government subsidized venture. ' He ran the County Poor Farm.' This land was condemned and purchased by the Federal Government as part of Prince William Forest Park. I have been unable to document the Poor Farm portion of this story. Can you point me in the right direction? Any scrap of information will be most appreciated."   

"During the last week of April 1954, the Wise County Board of Supervisors offered the local country poor farm ... as the location for our [University of Virginia/Clinch Valley College] , which at the time contained two sandstone buildings (today named Bowers-Sturgill Hall and Crockett Hall)."
     quote from an on-line article (no longer available) titled 
     "Are UVA-Wise Buildings Actually Haunted?"  (We are not kidding.  PHL

[Note: We understand that Crockett Hall was subsequently closed for renovation; and we would appreciate updating about the status of this old poorhouse building.   PHL

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"I have been trying for some time to find information on the Amherst County Poorhouse. I was in Amherst five years ago and nobody knows where it was located , although there is a Poorhouse Rd. My great grandfather was a physician at the Poorhouse as well as a practicing physician in New Glasgow-now called Clifford. Any information would be greatly appreciated."

"I live less than two miles from where the old Rockingham County Poorhouse was located. It's in Pleasant Valley (just outside the Harrisonburg City limits), located on Pleasant Valley Road at the big curve in the road. An electrical substation sits there now. The poorhouse was closed in the early sixties and the building torn down. Some of the ones who died there were buried in a nearby town of Bridgewater (the burial was sponsored by a local church) or they were buried across the road in unmarked graves."
     Michele Van Pelt  

the Poorhouse Story


The following information was found on an e-Bay auction. We wish we had further information about who 
published the book and where readers can purchase copies.  PHL
(c. 2000), 2002 new soft cover reprint, 5 x 8 , indexed, 215 pages  
Information taken from Order Books and from loose papers which include indentures and other papers evidently intended to be used in writing orders. Up until the General Assembly of Virginia transferred their powers and duties to the Overseers of the Poor of the counties, the Churchwardens of the Parishes were responsible for binding out the children. The first Overseers of the poor were elected in Loudoun in 1786.
NOTE:  This book is included on the web page 
"Loudoun County, Virginia Resource Materials and Look-Ups"
Scroll down to the section -- "LOUDOUN COUNTY REFERENCE BOOK LOOK-UPS")


by Jeanne Stinson, 1994
"An abstract of the minutes taken at the Board of Supervisor's meetings containing ...the Poorhouse accounts ... Lists include ... persons dealing with the poorhouse.."
     The above book is published by the Iberian Publishing Company 

The Patrick County Lists below are only PARTIAL lists. (They were extracted from the census and may not include all the residents listed in that census taking. PHL ]

1850 Census -- List of Patrick County Poorhouse Residents
1860 Census -- List of Patrick County Poorhouse Residents
1870 Census -- List of Patrick County Poorhouse Residents

1850 Census of the Surry County, Virginia Poor House

1850 Census of the Henrico County, Virginia Poor House 

1870 Census of the Smyth County, Virginia Poor House   

1850 Census of the Madison County, Viriginia Poor House 

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Pleasant Valley Alms(house) Cemetery   in Rockingham County

Deaths reported for the Patrick County Poorhouse

Shenandoah County Poor Farm Cemetery
(Includes description, location, and the names of a couple of people who were buried there.)

Regina R. Davis has extracted information about deaths in the Sussex County Alms House from the 

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We are hoping to build this base of information about poorhouses in VIRGINA through the helpful participation of  readers. All are requested to submit items of interest by sending e-mail to The Poorhouse Lady.

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