Lawrence Frick State Hospital

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Lawrence Frick State Hospital
Construction Began 1912
Construction Ended 1916
Opened 1916 (as a state hospital), 1984 (as a prison)
Closed 1983 (as a state hospital), 2013 (as a prison)
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Alternate Names
  • Cresson Tuberculosis Sanatorium
  • Cresson State School and Hospital
  • Cresson Center
  • State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Cresson
  • Big House Produce


From the State Web Page: The State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Cresson, which is located on Old Route 22, approximately one mile east of the town of Cresson in Cambria County, has a rich history of service to the health and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Beginning with the donation of the land by steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and prescribed by the Act of Assembly in June 1910, the Cresson Tuberculosis Sanatorium was opened in 1916. The location was considered as ideal due to the abundance of fresh air and the treatments used to combat the disease. The present administration building was built in the European style with gargoyles on the tower and the crests of Scottish clans cut into the sandstone as a reminder of Mr. Carnegie’s heritage.

With the introduction of new drugs and treatments for tuberculosis, the need for sanatoriums declined. In December of 1956 the facility was incorporated into the Lawrence F. Flick State Hospital being run by the Department of Public Welfare to treat the mentally retarded. The facility remained in operation until December 1982.

In 1983 the facility was converted into a state correctional institution under the Bureau of Corrections. Under Executive Order 1983-1, Governor Dick Thornburgh directed that the Bureau of Correction convert the facility to a state correctional institution. Total allocation for design and renovation was $20.6 million. First Lady Ginny Thornburgh, as an advocate of the mentally retarded, requested that the cemetery used by the facility since its inception be maintained as a memorial by the institution. Today the maintenance department and the inmates of SCI Cresson carry on this work.

Construction and renovation began in 1984. Many buildings were renovated with the addition of fire safety, environmental and security equipment. The design for the new housing units for inmates became the prototype for institutions being built across the state. The director’s home was moved from inside the future compound to a site on the road leading to the institution and became the superintendent’s residence.

In the fall of 1986, the SCI Cresson Staff Activation Team was assembled with Jeffrey A. Beard, Ph.D., as superintendent; Martin Dragovich, deputy superintendent for centralized services; Donald Morder, deputy superintendent for operations; David Lewis, business manager; Elizabeth Eckenrode, personnel director; Robert Whitsel, facility maintenance manager; and Lisa (Godish) Beiswenger, superintendent’s secretary. In August, the first inmate work cadre of 10 inmates arrived from SCI Huntingdon. Later, all of these inmates were assigned to SCI Cresson.

The prison closed June 30, 2013 and the land was put up for sale by the state. Big House Produce bought the property in late 2019. They are an indoor hydroponic agricultural farm that also provides tours and photography trips scheduled for the general public.

Images of Lawrence Frick State Hospital[edit]

Main Image Gallery: Lawrence Frick State Hospital

Additional Information & Links[edit]