The last two groups featured in the Borough’s Centennial Booklet were the Erie County Hospital and the Fairview Cemetery.
The origin of the County Hospital was as a purchase of land along West Ridge Road by the County Poor Board in 1832. Well west of the Borough of Erie, who knew that the population would spread that far and beyond? The first Poorhouse was built on that 100-acre tract for just over $1,000. The first inmates were paupers – two single men, a mother, her four children and a blind woman.
As more inmates came a new building was needed, then additions were needed. In 1919, with city life sprawling in all directions, the Poor Board purchased the Dobler Estate in Fairview Township for a new facility. At that time the name was changed from Poorhouse to Erie County Home. The new building opened to the inmates in 1924 at a cost that was 700 times the first building.
Interestingly, it was located immediately west of the B’nai B’rith Home for Children, which moved to that location in 1914.
Once open the new Poorhouse was recognized as being too small. As a result, since 1960 several additions, expansions and upgrades have occurred.
By 1968 the County Home was recognized not as a “poorhouse,” but as a fine medical facility. Today that facility is known as Pleasant Ridge Manor and all aspects of a “poor house” have disappeared.
The Dobler Mansion on the west end of the property was used over the years as a residence for the County Home Superintendent, as a nurses’ residence for tuberculosis patients, as a Haunted House fundraisers for the Northwest Jaycees, as a private residence. It stood vacant for several years as well.
For a brief time the Board of the Fairview Area Historical Society considered buying it for their headquarters and as a House Museum. The cost of repairing it to become fully operational after years of standing empty was prohibitive. Nevertheless, the Dobler Mansion, and the vast acreage, and the story of its original owners remain of great interest to the FAHS.