Cecil County Almshouse

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Cecil County Almshouse
Opened 1887
Demolished 1935
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Childs, MD
Alternate Names
  • Cecil County Insane Asylum


In 1788, Cecil County purchased about 174 acres of land a few miles north of Elkton. Within a few years, a home for the unfortunate was built. An annual report from 1855 provides some details on the operation of the almshouse. Seventy-one inmates lived there, many of them aiding in work on the county farm.[1]

In 1887, the Cecil County Insane Asylum opened on the grounds of the County Almshouse (present-day Mt. Aviat Academy in Childs). When it opened, thirteen patients who’d been scattered in institutions around the state were brought back to their modern home in Cecil County. Prior to that time, the mentally ill from Cecil ended up in the county jail or poorhouse, or they were institutionalized at other insane asylums in Baltimore.[2]

Gradually, the state assumed responsibility for providing inpatient mental health and then in May 1915, after the Eastern Shore Hospital in Cambridge opened, 26 patients were taken for that long ride to Dorchester County. A few months earlier, nine African-American residents had been transferred to the state hospital for the colored insane at Crownsville. The asylum was torn down in 1935, when C. B. Van den Huevel was paid $50.25 to remove the structure. [3]

The actual poorhouse continued operating for several more decades. But in 1952, the county farm and almshouse went on the auction block. The land was purchased by Daniel Bathon and he donated the property to the O[blate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales. The order operates a private Catholic School, Mt. Aviat Academy. The order uses the main poorhouse building as its convent.

The County Potter's Field, the final resting place for paupers, was located across the road from the poorhouse. At this cemetery, there are some 150 to 200 unmarked graves.[4]