Official Logo Art of Johnson County Iowa

Historical Photo of Poor Farm in Johnson County Iowa

An excerpt from the Johnson County Historical Society: “The 1855 Johnson County Historic Poor Farm, is a window on nineteenth century definitions and policy dealing with perceived social problems. The need to care for the poor or mentally ill had been established in the United States in the 1820’s as a duty of the state and local governments. This duty was recognized early in Johnson county history. The County chose first to contract care usually from local physicians. In 1855, the Johnson County supervisors decided to procure 160 acres on the edge of Iowa City for a “poor farm” to provide systematic care with economy.The Johnson County Historic Poor Farm site is important to Iowa’s history, telling the story of the county’s care for it’s citizens from the earliest days until today.”

The history of the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm was captured in the listing of the site on the National Register of Historic Places on September of 2014. This report, conducted by Leah Rogers, Director of Tallgrass Historians, outlines a very detailed account of the genesis of Poor Farms in America, the historic building structures, and the day-to-day life of residents.

All historic documentation is on the Johnson County Website.

  • 2002 National Register of Historic Places
  • 2013 Steinmetz Report of Site Visit for RFP
  • 2015 Public Forum Summary
  • Ground Penetrating Radar Results (GPR) – August 2014
  • Johnson County Poor Farm Cemetery and Asylum GPR Report
  • MPO Poor Farm Update 2012
  • Poor Farm Planning Study Final Report 2003