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About the Home

The Pennsylvania Soldiers' & Sailors' Home in Erie has been in operation for more than a century.

It was dedicated and opened on February 22, 1886, although the actual construction began nearly two decades earlier.

Work began in 1867 when it was conceived as a Marine hospital to be used by the federal government as part of its system of homes for disabled volunteer soldiers. The government declined the offer, however, and work was halted in 1885 when the project ran out of funds.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly decided there should be a home for indigent and disabled ex-soldiers from Pennsylvania and created a commission to pursue this objective. The commission chose the Marine hospital site in Erie. It purchased an additional four acres adjacent to the 100 acres in the original plot, and constructed new buildings around the Marine hospital.

At first, a board of trustees, an administrative agency within the Department of Military Affairs, managed the home. The Adjutant General was given full responsibility 90 years later and the board of trustees was replaced by an advisory board, later replaced by an advisory council.

The annex was dedicated in June 1980, with 75 beds available to provide quality nursing care. The main building has 100 beds, divided into personal care and domiciliary care. The major difference in the types of residency is the level of care required.
  • The personal care/domiciliary care unit provides food and shelter, medical and nursing care, ancillary therapeutic services and recreational activities. Residents receive a supervised, protected environment. When needed, assistance is provided for eating, bathing, shaving and other activities of daily living which do not require constant nursing care. 
  • The nursing unit provides 24-hour care, seven days a week. Residents receive a complete range of clinical services under the direction of physicians, nurses and other licensed health care professionals.
  • The 32-bed Dementia/Alzheimer's unit provides veterans suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease with long-term care in a safe and secure environment. The ward has an open layout with a large lounge area, designed to put residents in familiar, home-like surroundings. During treatment for early stages of dementia, the entrance to each resident's room contains a "memory box" with items from a resident's past to help jog their memory as to where his or her room is located.

Available to all residents are medical, clinical and nursing services; drug and nutritional therapy; rehabilitative service such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and recreational therapy; dental services; social services; laundry; transportation; housekeeping; maintenance; security; fiscal management; and other related services.

There is a landmark Civil War cannon on the building grounds, one of only 12 Napoleon field pieces brought back to Pennsylvania by Union troops. Several of the others were melted down during the two world wars. The cannon was completely refurbished in 1985 by vocational students at the George Junior Republic, in a project underwritten by the Erie Chapter of the 40 et 8 Club.

Also located on the grounds is a veterans cemetery, established in 1886. It is the resting place for more than 1,300 veterans who served the United States in wars dating back to the early 19th century. It was rededicated April 3, 1992, following a rehabilitation project.