The early care of the poor and mentally ill was crude by modern standards, reflecting the prevailing attitude that fresh air and work would be good for these “poor unfortunates”. From the earliest days, “inmates” were expected to do farm chores to the extent of their abilities. The farm was to be self-supporting and the labor of the inmates would help compensate the county for their care. Crop farming and dairy production were primary functions of the farm until the 1960's.
Today the early twentieth century milking barn, a late nineteenth century hay/horse barn, five smaller buildings, the “insane” wing, and the cemetery survive. The 1859 “First Johnson County Asylum” wing is restored and listed on the national Register of Historic Places. Though unused for many years, the buildings and acreage have received basic maintenance and many of the original features are intact including a brick cistern outside the horse barn. A unique stock watering system is still in place inside the smaller buildings and the milking barn still has its equipment, stanchions, feed boxes, separating room, cooler and silo.