Allen County Infirmary

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Allen County Infirmary
Established 1853
Opened 1865/1953
Current Status Demolished
Active (Current Facility)
Building Style Single Building
Architect(s) A.M. Strauss (Original Building)
Location Fort Wayne, IN
Alternate Names
  • Allen County Poor Farm
  • Byron Health Center
  • Allen County Home for the Destitute


The Allen County "Poor Farm," as it was originally called, was established in 1853 and was first located in the wilderness of section 29 of Wayne Township (in the area of present-day Elmhurst High School, north of Lower Huntington Road). In that year George L. Parker was employed to keep the paupers at the Poor Farm for an annual sum of $600, and John A. Robinson was retained to build a house for the inmates for $750. These facilities were enlarged in 1854 and again, extensively, in 1860, during the directorship of James M. Read. In these years the director was required to furnish a team of horses, a wagon and harness, four cows and such farming equipment as would be necessary. The county, in exchange, paid Read $800 and furnished clothing and provisions for the inmates.

In 1864, at the height of the Civil War, the entire facility was moved closer to Fort Wayne. An infirmary was built as the centerpiece to the new farm, in the area just west of the present-day Bluffton Road Bridge, in what today is known as the Indian Village neighborhood and the Quimby Village Shopping Center. The new infirmary building was completed in June 1865, for $14,468, and James Read, the former overseer of the Poor Farm, was named Superintendent of the Allen County Asylum, as it was now called.

Expansion of the infirmary space was again required in 1871, and under Superintendent John Spice provisions were made to offer care "for the convenience and better management of the different classes of inmates" (History of Allen County, 1880, p.54). This is the facility that, in 1902, William Johnston came to superintend. Today, in Allen County, the descendant of the old county Poor Farm and Asylum is the Irene Byron Health Center. Behind the Main Building and connected to it with a covered porch was the Insane Ward. North of the Main Building was the Power House and Laundry. South of the Main Building was the Bakery and farther south were the horse and cattle barns, the horse barn being nearest the road. [1]


  1. Hassett, Kayla. "The County Home in Indiana : A Forgotten Response to Poverty and Disability." Diss. Ed. Vera A. Adams. Ball State U, 2013. Cardinal Scholar, 05 Apr. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.