Woodville State Hospital
The information and photographs on this page were written and provided by Anna Murphy. Thank you for your contributions.
Woodville State Hospital History
The Woodville State Hospital opened in 1854 and closed in 1992 after 138 years. The Woodville State Hospital was located in Collier Township between Hilltop Road and Thoms Run Road. When it was first established, it housed the poor but later on became a home for the mentally ill. At its peak, the Woodville State Hospital housed more than 2,300 mentally ill patients. At the time it closed, Woodville housed around 460 patients.
Although the hospital closed in 1992, the State considered closing it previously. The Welfare Department proposed closing Woodville in 1983 but many people lobbied to keep it open. In 1984, Dixmont State Hospital was closed instead. A few years later, Karen F. Snider who was the deputy secretary for mental health in the state Department of Public Welfare at the time, recommended to close Woodville State Hospital. She said that she made that suggestion because Woodville Hospital and Mayview Hospital were closest together in the state system of 14 facilities. Governor Robert Casey was facing a projected $1 billion state budget deficit so he made the decision to close the hospital and consolidate its services with Mayview by June 30, 1992.
Preparing for Closure
The closing of Woodville State Hospital affected various stakeholders. The Woodville State Hospital’s patients were worried about moving. They were worried that they would not have the same doctors who knew them personally and treated them very well. Also they were worried that there would be changes in their medications. To the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the closing meant saving five million dollars and to Allegheny County it meant a challenge to secure as much money as possible for the mental ill. To the workers and the union that represented them, it meant lobbying to make sure that no one lost their job.
In the months before the closing and during the closing, Woodville stopped accepting new patients. Their current patients were evaluated to determine where they would be placed. When the hospital finally closed, the patients were discharged to either Mayview State Hospital in South Fayette or to community programs. Today, all that is left is a cemetery where some of the patients of the Woodville State Hospital that passed away are buried.
Woodville State Hospital Cemetery
Although Woodville State Hospital no longer exists, the Woodville State Hospital Cemetery does. The cemetery has rows of concrete markers where the patients that passed away over the years are buried. On the top of each concrete marker/gravestone there is a number instead of the name. The Woodville State Hospital kept record of each patient that was buried and what their number was. However, when Woodville closed the hospital the records went missing. Today, about 200 of the records have been retrieved.
Over time, the cemetery was overgrown by plants that surrounded it. The cemetery is located right next to and partially in the woods. Recently Collier Township, with the help of volunteers, has been clearing out the overgrown plants in the cemetery and removing trees that are in the way. Now if you visit the cemetery, you can easily see and access the gravestones.
Finding a Gravestone
If you know someone or know of someone that was buried in the Woodville Cemetery you can look on the list of records for their name. If they are on the list, the list will provide you with the number of the gravestone in which they were buried.