This photo of the Larimer County Hospital is from 1925 or after. It is from a postcard I found on eBay. The small house that can be seen in the background was a part of the Larimer County Poor Farm.
I’m currently researching the history of our local hospitals and have come across several mentions of the County Poor Farm.
The poor farm was not a hospital. It was, as the name implies, a farm. Those of indigent circumstances could live there, working the fields and eating the produce. The poor farm included an “old folks home,” which was the nursing home of the day, as well as a “pest house,” which was where those who were ill went to die. (The word “pest” was likely shortened from “pestilence.” A person suffering from the plague, or any contagious disease, was a “pest.”) Eventually a hospital was added to the poor farm (later renamed Poudre Valley Hospital).
This description of what was in place and what was being requested as an improvement (the poor house, mentioned above) gives some insight into how the County addressed the needs of the less fortunate back in the day. This clipping is from the January 18, 1894 Fort Collins Courier:
“One of the urgent and growing needs of Larimer county is a good, thoroughly equipped poor farm, provided with suitable accommodations for comfortably housing the unfortunate wards of the county, and where those able to do light work can be given employment. The present method of renthouses in town for poor people and doling out to them even a meagre support, is expensive, unbusinesslike and very unsatisfactory all around. With a properly managed poor farm these people would be able to contribute by their labor on the farm to their own support and be better housed, better fed and better cared for in every way. The expense of taking care of them as they are being cared for is enormous and constantly growing, and the board of commissioners could not serve the county to a better purpose than by purchasing a Farm and suitably fitting it up as a home tor those who are dependent on the bounty of the public.”