Knox County Infirmary

The Knox County Infirmary is a demolished poorhouse that served children, the elderly, and those with mental or physical illness in Knox County, Ohio.


The formation of the Knox County county infirmary came in June 1842 when county commissioners Thomas Axtell, Christopher Wolfe, and Thomas Wade acquired 132 acres in Liberty Township for $3,300 from William E. Davidson. 10 The farm was located along Dry Creek near Bangs Station along the Cleveland, Mt. Vernon & Columbus Railroad. Davidson and J.R. Clark repaired and expanded the buildings on what was then the Bricker Farm for the first county poor house and infirmary.

A larger facility was soon needed, and on May 12, 1874, the directors of the infirmary petitioned the county for a new structure. 10 On May 15, Tinsley & Company of Columbus was hired to furnish plans for a new building that was not to exceed $50,000. A bid was let for $38,936 and a contract for construction was awarded to the J. Henegan & Company on September 30.

After some work was completed, it became evident that it would not be finished at budget. 10 Tinsley & Company secured the building from the elements and convinced the county to take the contract off their hands for $28,000 for the materials used and the labor performed.

Work under the county was expedited, and the new building was opened in September 1877 at the cost of $83,000. 10 The new, 90,000 square-foot, 9 four-story Italianate-styled infirmary featured 100 rooms and a 65-foot-high tower. 10 It also had three water tanks on the upper floor, each containing 40 barrels of water each, and a steam power plant.

The complex, measuring 175-feet by 127-feet, could service 125 residents 10 from a four-county region. 4

On April 20, 1914, the Knox County commissioners awarded a contract for $2,586.30 to the Mt. Vernon Electric Company for the installation of an electric light plant at the infirmary. 3

Substandard conditions forced the Knox County Infirmary to close in 1957. 2 7


The building was purchased by Foursquare Gospel Church 2 and was used as the Mt. Vernon Bible College 7 until 1988, when it relocated to Virginia. 2 8

The building, abandoned for several years, was reopened as The House of Nightmares in 1997 6 and remained active until January 2006 1 when four floors of the building collapsed. The House of Nightmares later relocated to Columbus, Ohio. 1

Toby Spade, of Northeast Ohio Investment Partners, purchased the former infirmary and 2.6 acres from the state of Ohio with the intent of rehabilitating the building. After the front north facade gave way in February 2015 11 and a fire consumed the entire structure on June 26, the Knox County Infirmary was demolished. 12



  1. “The House of Nightmares-The Downfall and Rebirth of a Classic.” City Blood: Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana Haunts! Web. 28 Apr. 2015. Article.
  2. Reed, Alan. “Former Knox County Infirmary Renovations Being Pursued.” Mount Vernon News 10 Sept. 2014. Web.
  3. “Contract Is Awarded.” Democratic Banner [Mt. Vernon] 24 Apr. 1914: 6. Print.
  4. “Miseries of Mt. Vernon.” Cincinnati Enquirer 11 Apr. 1877: 1. Print.
  5. Price, Rita. “Primitive Freight – Instinct prompts a scream; the brain says go back for more.” Columbus Dispatch 8 Oct. 2000. 19 Dec. 2007: 1D.
  6. “Knox County Poorhouse.” Abandoned Ohio. 19. Dec. 2007 Article.
  7. “Knox County History: Events of 1951 to 1975.” Knox County, Ohio. 19. Dec. 2007 Article.
  8. “Knox County History: Events of 1976 to Present.” Knox County, Ohio. 19. Dec. 2007 Article.
  9. Palmer, Karen. “Not everyone can stomach the House of Nightmares.” News Journal [Mansfield] 24 Oct. 2004. 19 Dec. 2007: C4.
  10. Hill, Jr., N.N. “Public Buildings of the County.” History of Knox County, Ohio: Its Past and Present. Mt. Vernon: A.A. Graham, 1881. 251-252. Print.
  11. “Historic property deemed dangerous.” Mount Vernon News 7 Feb. 2015. Web.
  12. “Area firefighters on scene at former Mount Vernon Bible College.” Mount Vernon News 26 Jun. 2015. Web.


Add Yours →

Well, the fire should be out after all this rain; the County should give free bricks to the locals, and anyone that wants them for walks, patios, grill sites, and flower borders. This way the bricks can live again. Short driveways could even be made out of them.

I love your idea and I love the property and all of the history. My husband and I bought the property and are currently turning the old white work building into an air bnb. Some bricks were left and we are using them on the front porch. I’m super excited and passionate about this!

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