Warren County Almshouse
|Warren County Almshouse|
|Building Style||Single Building|
In 1839, county commissioners were authorized to establish “poorhouses,” if they so wished, and Warren County built its first such facility in 1858, a “county farm”, on 120 acres purchased in Lenox Township, five and a half miles south of Monmouth. A frame building, a story and a half in height, was erected at a cost of $3,000. An annex in the rear housed “the insane.” The farm was as much as possible self-sustaining, with produce, dairy, meat and poultry raised on the premises. The farm’s first resident, Henry Hopper, was one of Warren County’s earliest settlers, having arrived in 1834. At the age of 40 he had been injured in the head in a sawmill accident. When he died in 1887, Hopper’s obituary noted that “after that time his mind was never quite right.” Before the accident, though, “he was an industrious and hard working man, well liked by his neighbors. He has no relatives in this city and it is doubtful he had any anywhere else.“
As the Progressive Era began to take root at the turn of the 20th century, the county board felt pressure to build a modern facility that was more sanitary and spacious. In 1903, a brick structure replaced the original building, erected at a cost of $50,000. Containing 57 rooms, the new county home was a model of modernity. It was served by two deep wells equipped with electric pumps. Outbuildings included a dairy barn, poultry house and vegetable cellar. Milk was supplied by 15 purebred Holstein cows, while 250 hogs and 800 chickens were raised each year. In 1912, a committee of the board of supervisors recommended discontinuing the terms “County Farm,” “Poor Farm” and “Alms House,” and instead calling it the “Warren County Home.”
In 1949, the Public Assistance Code forbade county homes from taking in poor but physically healthy people. Instead, they were issued monthly welfare checks and given assistance to help them live independently. All county homes in Illinois were decommissioned by the state in 1967. The Warren County Home continued for a time as a nursing facility, operated by superintendent Betty Killip, who resided there with her family. Community groups, such as the nearby Larchland Ladies Aid Society, volunteered at the home — especially to celebrate birthdays. When Applegate Inn opened in the former Monmouth Hospital in 1970, the remaining 23 County Home residents were transferred there. An auction of the facility’s contents was held in September 1970. The home was later razed and a gasohol plant was built on the site. When U.S. 67 was widened to a two-lane, the county home cemetery was vacated and many of the remains were transferred to the Lenox Union Cemetery, southwest of the former home.