The Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic (LGAR) is the oldest female hereditary organization in the United States – organized in 1881. As the organization quickly grew state organizations (Departments were created). Shortly after the Department of Pennsylvania was chartered, the Ladies took upon themselves the task of establishing a home for widows of Union Civil War Veterans. Thus the Ladies of the Grand Army Republic Home in Swissvale, Pennsylvania was born.
For nearly 90 years the LGAR provided a home for female blood relatives of Union Civil War Veterans. Those admitted had to meet a financial need and demonstrate they were the widow, daughter, sister, or granddaughter of a Union Veteran who was honorably discharged or died in service to the Nation. In the late 1960’s, changes in Federal funding forced the Ladies to drop the genealogical requirement or loose Federal funding, Medicare and Medicaid payments for the residents.
For another 30 years the LGAR maintained the home and offered care to women who met the financial requirements. Time took its toll on the 100 year plus facility and the ability of the LGAR to underwrite the cost of operating the home also decreased. After much discussion, the LGARentered into an agreement with a management company to assume responsibility for the structure and provide care to the residents. The necessary repairs to te building proved tobe cost prohibitive and a new facility was constructed in nearby Turtle Creek, PA. In 1996, the remaining residents were moved to the new facility and the venerable home abandoned.
Time has not been kind to the structure and ownership has passed through several hands. Today it is in a state of total disrepair.
This photographic essay is a work of love to honor the work of past and present members of theLGAR and their service to those in need. The past and present state of the home will be shown when this project is complete. Artistic editing will add to the beauty of the home even as it stands in poor condition.