Join the Historic Harrisburg Association for an exclusive look at
Landmark Tour: Harrisburg State Hospital
Facilities and Property Manager, Runyan Fuller guides this historical tour through the extensive former Harrisburg State Hospital Grounds.
Originally conceived as the “Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital” in 1845 with a budget of $10,000, it was to become the state’s first institution for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Opening six years later in 1861, Architect John Havinland designed the main buildings while Samuel Holman designed several original outbuildings. The complex continued to expand over the years to include a solarium, chapels, morgue, a cemetery, and multiple agriculture buildings. This “City on the Hill” even had its own water tower and grew from its original 130 acres to well over 1000 to include over 70 buildings.
It was the philosophy at the time that the idyllic setting would protect the patients, and not incarcerate them. This ideology continued as the state decided to transition from the single large structure, otherwise known as the “Kirkbride” plan, into the “Cottage” plan where the individual buildings reinforced a sense of home for the patients.
The State Hospital is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been closed since 2006, although several buildings remain in governmental or institutional use. HHA is leading an effort known as “the Committee for the Future of the Harrisburg State Hospital” which advocates that the sale of the property by the Commonwealth should result in three distinct outcomes: protection of the historic buildings and their spectacular hilltop setting through some form of adaptive reuse or historic preservation tax credit investment; preservation of the natural open space area that includes the Asylum Run watershed and the Greenbelt corridor, possibly as a municipal park; and responsible development of the extensive remaining acreage.
***The following will be required on the tour:
– Flat, closed-toed shoes
– Tour Participants will be required to sign liability waivers
– $25 – General Admission (General public tickets)
– $20 – HHA members (Individuals or Businesses that are current and up-to-date dues-paying members. All purchases are verified)
To purchase tickets, please click on the icon below:
***Please see the picture below for detailed parking and meeting instructions. The meeting place will be outside of the Administration Building at 20 Azalea Drive.