From the Richmond Dispatch, 5/9/1859, p. 1, c. 6
THE ALMSHOUSE of this city is inadequate to the wants of the city paupers and should be enlarged and improved. There are now about one hundred and thirty inmates of the Poor House, of all ages, sexes and colors, and as there are but twenty-four rooms in the building, they must be huddled together in an uncomfortable manner. – Not only the Superintendent but the Council Committee have labored earnestly to make the paupers feel that they were not neglected, but their work has been thrown away, in a great measure, because of the inconvenience of the building and its unsuitableness to the purpose for which it is used.
The city owns sixty acres of ground at Oak Wood, in Henrico county, and for its own credit it should erect suitable buildings upon it, and place the paupers in them. For $30,000 an almshouse might be put up, so constructed as to separate blacks and whites, males and females, infants and adults, and the decent, helpless poor, from that large class of paupers who have brought themselves to beggary and starvation by intemperance and vice. The city owns it to herself to keep up a distinct line between virtue and vice, even in her poor house, and she should do it.
By erecting a new building, and changing the location, that class of paupers who now annoy the west end of the city by getting drunk and lying about the streets, would be removed from the temptations to drink which now surround them – the present grounds could be added to Shockoe Hill Cemetery – and many of the invalids who now linger and pine away for want of suitable accommodation, fresh air and light exercise, might be restored to health and become useful citizens. Without a new house and proper enclosures, the city paupers cannot be better provided for than at present, and we only wonder that the Council has so long neglected to act in a matter, in which the comfort and happiness of the helpless poor are so vitally interested.