Elwyn (company)

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Elwyn, founded in 1852, is one of the oldest and largest care facilities in the United States, serving children and adults with a wide range of physical, developmental, sensory (deaf/blindness), and emotional disabilities, as well as those with mental illness, those with disabilities due to age, and those who are economically disadvantaged.[1] Elwyn is located in Elwyn, Pennsylvania, in Middletown Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. It has had a variety of names over its history, including the "Pennsylvania Training School for Feeble-minded Children". In 1966, it became the "Elwyn Institute". Today, it is "Elwyn."

Elwyn services include education, rehabilitation, and employment options, child welfare services, assisted living, respite care, campus and community therapeutic residential programs, and other supports for daily living. Elwyn has satellite operations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, as well as programs in California.

Elwyn is named for its founder, Dr. Alfred L. Elwyn, a Pennsylvania nonpracticing physician and philanthropist.

Elwyn has served as a consultant in the United States and overseas, assisting with the development of similar services.


Dr. Alfred Elwyn traveled to Boston for a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1849. He had promised to take a letter from Rachel Laird, a blind girl living in Philadelphia, to Laura Bridgman (December 21, 1829–May 24, 1889), who was a famous blind deaf mute in Boston. Bridgman was studying at the South Boston Institute for the Blind, and while there Elwyn visited a classroom for mentally deficient children run by teacher Dr. James B. Richards.

Elwyn was impressed with Richards' work, and resolved to do something similar in Pennsylvania. In 1852, with Richards, Elwyn established a training school for the mentally retarded in Germantown, Pennsylvania. In 1853, the Pennsylvania State Legislature formally chartered "The Pennsylvania Training School for Feeble-Minded Children" with Richards as its first superintendent in Germantown. The school soon outgrew its facilities in Germantown, and in 1857 a 60-acre (240,000 m2) farm was purchased in Media, Pennsylvania to house a new facility with help from the Pennsylvania legislature. The buildings were completed in 1859 and Elwyn, Richards, and 25 students moved in on September 1, 1859. The school was officially dedicated November 2, 1859.[2]

In 1870, Dr. Elwyn became President of the Elwyn School. The West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad had a nearby stop called the "Greenwood" stop, but local residents called it the "Elwyn Station". The nearby community also became known as "Elwyn".



  1. ^ The first care facility for the mentally disabled in the US was the Walter E. Fernald State School, established in 1848.
  2. ^ Ashmeade, Henry Graham (1884). History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co. pp. 625–628. Retrieved 15 June 2017.

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Coordinates: 39°54′43″N 75°24′40″W / 39.912°N 75.411°W / 39.912; -75.411