Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Lee county Infirmary

Earlier this year I posted an article about the Green River Ordnance plant. At the time I posted several photo's of what I had identified as an 'Administration' building for the plant. I have since found out I was wrong. It was in fact, the Lee county Infirmary.  The Infirmary, also known as the Lee county Poor farm, was built in the early 1900's and constructed in Three parts. It replaced an earlier structure that had been wood frame. The East wing was strictly for male patients, the West wing was for the females and the Central hub had the superintendents quarters and offices.

Morrison Vail of Dixon was awarded the contract to build the facility at a final cost of $55,800.00, a handsome sum at the time. The building ended up being 162 feet long and 104 feet deep with what were then state of the art facilities. In addition to private quarters for the superintendent there was space provided for doctors offices,an operating theater located behind the doctors office and a private dining room for staff.

The residents each had their own dining rooms, keeping men and women completely separated and two rooms in each wing were reserved fro patients judged to be insane. Four rooms were double sized and meant for couple, married individuals or to be used as sitting rooms if so desired. In addition to a complete kitchen to serve the facility there was a bakery and an outside 'Icing' chamber.

The East wing had a Tuberculosis ward with its own bathroom and screened in sun porch isolated from the rest of the building.  The total occupancy of the building was set at 45 men and women in addition to staff, doctors, nurses, attendants, etc.

Like all institutions such as this people occasionally died.  Since this was an almshouse or poor house, often the deceased had no family to claim the body for burial. A small cemetery was located near the building to inter those who went unclaimed.

Today the building stands empty and forlorn. The other shell still looks good, but the interior is ruined. Windows are broken out, doors are missing, the barn beside the almshouse has fallen in. An effort was made back in 2005 by the Roberts family to restore and preserve the cemetery and the headstones that are visible today are only so due to their efforts. Though there are 102 people interred there we only found a few that were legible.

The stones we were able to identify are:

Charles Rudolph- D. Sept. 24th,1898
Lewis Alexander-D. Feb 22nd,1898
John McNeal-D. Jan 19th,1898
Casper Ott-D. Sept.15th,1895

This is an interesting chapter of Lee county history and if you ever get up that way be sure to stop for a moment and reflect on how much things have improved since then. Note: The property is in disrepair and there are No Trespassing signs posted. Stay on the public road.


  1. Robert Scholes - rangerbob333@gmail.comSeptember 11, 2016 at 10:47 PM

    Glad the cemetary is still being taken care of .We seem to be a forgetting , not caring , throw away society anymore. Really like all the history you share . Mom and I use to do these kinds of things , She passed Sept. 2015 , no way for me to get around anymore .Would love to be able to some day.

  2. I first saw the Infirmary 4 years ago and its history fascinated me.I have been inside the Infirmary-it is a crumbling,asbestos filled ruin that cannot be saved.It has been seized by the county for back taxes,so its days are probably numbered.It was used as an apartment complex for many years,closing sometime in the nineties....


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