Confederate soldiers’ homes were organized and built state by state over a period of almost forty years, so it’s not surprising that each of the homes were unique in their appearance. These two photos demonstrate how different the homes could be.
Richard Williams of the Old Virginia Blog sent me this photo of Virginia’s Lee Camp Soldiers' Home in Richmond. Lee Camp was opened in 1885 using existing buildings, buildings moved to the site and new construction. The Virginia home was organized much like a typical military compound, with separate buildings for dining, sleeping, medical treatment, administration and recreation.
Ex-Confederates in Kentucky, however, acquired a single building, a former resort hotel, in 1902 to serve as the Kentucky Confederate Home. The building was suited for institutional use, and all ex-Confederates could eat, sleep and live under the same roof.
Several other states—Alabama and Florida, in particular—adopted Virginia’s “cottage plan”. Homes built in the cottage plan were more scalable: smaller buildings could be erected as inmate population increased, the buildings dismantled or repurposed as it decreased. But cottages were more expensive to heat, and they required aged and infirm inmates to move from building to building in inclement weather to take meals or receive medical treatment.
Ex-Confederates in most states opted for the single building. Large buildings weren’t particularly scalable, but they were far more efficient. (Trustees of the Confederate Soldiers’ Home of Georgia estimated that fifteen cottages housing four inmates each would cost about $1,000 each, while the same $15,000 would pay for a single large building that could house up to a hundred inmates.)
(Thanks to Richard Williams of the Old Virginia Blog for this photo of the Lee Camp Soldiers’ Home and other photos I’ll post at a later date.)