Farview State Hospital

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Farview State Hospital
Established May 11, 1905
Construction Began 1912
Opened 1913
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Waymart, PA
Peak Patient Population 1,401 in 1960
Alternate Names
  • State Hospital for the Criminal Insane
  • State Correctional Institution at Waymart (SCI Waymart) (Current)


Farview was founded by an act of the state legislature on May 11, 1905 as the first and only institution in the state devoted exclusively to the care and treatment of the criminally insane. It was located on a 950 acre tract of land just west of Waymart on land donated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by the Delaware & Hudson Railroad. Over the years additional land was purchased adding another 450 acres to the property. The site had been the Farview Picnic Ground used by the D&H Gravity Railroad excursion rides. The location is one of the highest elevations in the state and the name is derived from the spectacular view from that spot. Dr. Thomas C. Fitzsimmons was appointed the first superintendent of the hospital and construction continued between 1908 and 1913 with the first patients arriving in December 1912.

In 1913 the number of patients was 171 and by 1960 it had risen to 1,401. Farview was intended to function as a prison without walls. The design grouped the large brick buildings together with connecting passageways that enclosed a courtyard. This restricted the patients' access only to the courtyards and the interior of the buildings. J.C. M. Shirk of Philadelphia designed and constructed the original buildings and his partner, Charles L. Hillman, designed and built the later buildings after Shirk's death in 1918. The complex included the main hospital, dormitory, and a dining hall for the patients plus an industrial building where they manufactured various items. It also included the administrative building, superintendent's residence, a guard dormitory, staff cottages, kitchens, workshop, laundry and 43 acre farm.

Farview was representative of a development in the treatment of the criminally insane known as institutional peonage. This was the practice of having patients provide labor to help offset costs for the facility while giving the patients manual work that would instill a feeling of self-worth and employ their time productively. By 1914, an additional 100 acres had been cleared for crops which included potatoes, cabbage, turnips, tomatoes, beans, carrots and parsnips. In the first year of operation the farm had a bull, 20 cows, 10 calves, 50 pigs and 100 chickens. By 1920 the farm comprised 307 acres and beef cattle, sheep and a small herd of deer for venison were added to the livestock. The property also included orchards, vineyards and a berry patch.

An occupational therapy program was established in 1920, which included various types of industrial arts such as brick making, weaving, knitting, printing, laundering and baking. The facility also provided various amusements for the patients such as baseball, movies, pool and checkers. The hospital even had a band. Many changes took place over the years. A dairy barn was erected about 1920 and additional structures were added as the need arose. The dairy barn was destroyed in a fire set by one of the patients but a more up-to-date barn was built to replace it with every bit of the wood and every brick used in the construction coming from the hospital property.

As of 2008 Farview State Hospital is owned by the PA Dept of Corrections and is known as the State Correctional Institution at Waymart. Pressed into operation ahead of schedule following the Camp Hill riot, the joint on-site operation of a state prison and state mental health facility was unique. In October 1995, Farview State Hospital was transferred from the Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Corrections. Now known as the department's Forensic Treatment Unit, the unit houses mentally disabled male inmates who require inpatient psychiatric care and treatment. The institution also houses minimum-security inmates. Inmate stats as of 2005: 1,322 minimum-security inmates / Sex offenders housed: 675 / Average age of prisoner: 47

Images of Farview State Hospital

Main Image Gallery: Farview State Hospital


  • Cold Storage - By: Wendell Rawls
  • The Shoe Leather Treatment - By Bill Thomas
  • The Shoemaker - By Flora Rhea Schreiber

Patient Information

As this is still an active institution patient inquireries will need to be directed to the SCI Waymart Institution directly. You can find contact information on their website HERE.