Retreat State Hospital

From Asylum Projects
Jump to: navigation, search
Retreat State Hospital
Established Sept 29, 1938 (As a PA State Hospital)
Construction Began 1878
Closed 1980 (as a hospital) 2020 (as a prison)
Demolished 1981
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Nanticoke, PA
Peak Patient Population 1,103 in 1947
Alternate Names
  • Central Poor District
  • SCI Retreat


The Central Poor District was first set up in 1860 by an act of the State Legislature and 146 acres of land were subsequently purchased for the purpose of erecting buildings for the care of the poor. This land was located in Newport Township, Luzerne County along the banks of the Susquehanna River and about 14 miles from Wilkes-Barre. Outdoor pavilions were established to care for the poor on this land until 1878 when a need was seen for additional space and more permanent facilities. A Female Ward was erected in 1878, a Male Ward in1884, and an addition was added to the Male Ward in 1895. Together, these comprised the Luzerne County Almshouse.

By 1890, the District took on the responsibility of caring for mentally ill patients and in 1900 the new Hospital for the Insane opened its door at the site. Sometime between 1921 and 1926 the name was changed to Retreat Mental Hospital, although it was still governed by the Central Poor District of Luzerne County. By an Act of the Legislature in 1937 the haphazard system of Poor Districts was abolished, and County Institution Districts were set up. Though County Commissioners assumed control of poor and indigent sick relief in the counties, management of individual institutions remained the same.

In accordance with an act of 1938 requiring the state to take over all institutions for the care of the mentally ill, Retreat came under state control on September 16, 1943. The Almshouse buildings, whose functions had been superseded by Federal and State relief programs during the Depression, were emptied in 1945 and remodeled into patient dormitories. The Retreat State Hospital was closed in 1980 as a result of decreases in the patient population and cutbacks in the overall budget of the Department of Welfare.

On June 29 of that year(1980), an Executive Order, signed by Governor Richard Thornburgh, transferred the facility to the Bureau of Correction, effective July 1, 1981. The Bureau was to have temporary responsibility for maintenance and security until the counties could take it over. The plan never materialized however, so the Bureau retained the property and turned Retreat into a State Correctional Institution.

As of June 2020, Pennsylvania department of corrections closed operations at SCI Retreat. Luzerne county has shown interest in taking over the prison but no tentative plans have been set.


Additional Information & Links[edit]