The Poorhouse

<em>Edit Blog entry</em> The Poorhouse
The Poorhouse

by Rob O'Boyle

For more than a century, the Onondaga County “Poorhouse” served as a haven for the community’s most vulnerable citizens. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries the Poorhouse provided a refuge for thousands of patients, residents and those who cared for them.

In 1817 the Town of Onondaga voted to raise $500 to build a facility to house the county’s indigent and chronically ill. In 1827 the Onondaga County Poorhouse was established by the County Board of Supervisors for the destitute, the homeless, or those without families to care for them. In addition, the County purchased a 145-acre farm on Onondaga Hill to provide for the total site. As the residential population of the Poorhouse grew the county added on a total of 13 buildings and additions over the next 125 years. Originally called the County Poorhouse in 1827, the name was changed in 1861 to the Onondaga Home and Hospital and later in 1954 the Van Duyn Home and Hospital. In 1975 the new Van Duyn Hospital was built down the road on Seneca Turnpike.

In 2007 Onondaga Community College acquired the Poorhouse property from Onondaga County. By this time only 2 of the buildings on the property remained. The 1928 hospital and the Nurse’s building. The College transformed the hospital into John Mulroy Hall in 2011. In 2017 the Nurse’s Building was dedicated as Ephraim Shapero Hall and became the 4th residence hall on campus. John Mulroy and Ephraim Shapero were instrumental in the establishment of Onondaga Community College in 1961 as leaders on the County Board of Supervisors.

For more information on the Poorhouse site the Town of Onondaga Historical Society maintains a Web site at http://www.onondagatownhist.org/ .

Photograph 1: The 1928 Hospital attached to the old Hospital (Photo courtesy of the Town of Onondaga Historical Society)

Photograph 2: The refurbished 1928 Hospital now John Mulroy Hall

Photograph 3: The renovated Nurse’s Building now Ephraim E. Shapero Hall