The Staunton Farm Foundation is a family foundation established in 1937 in accordance with the wishes of Matilda Staunton Craig, who wanted her estate to be used to benefit people with mental illness.
The Staunton Farm Foundation exists because of the foresight and concern of Matilda S. McCready (born Matilda Staunton Craig in 1862 and known to her family as Aunt Daisie).
Mrs. McCready grew up on the North Side of the City of Pittsburgh, later moving a few miles west of the City to the town of Sewickley. Mrs. McCready managed her own business affairs, including operating Staunton Farm, located across the Ohio River from Sewickley and her holdings of stock in oil and natural gas companies her brothers had built and led.
Mrs. McCready died in 1933. Her will outlined her plans that her estate be used to start a treatment center on the grounds of Staunton Farm for people with mental illness. It was her dream to build and maintain “a home for the treatment and care of persons suffering from curable neurotic, mild mental and kindred ailments, wherein persons undergoing treatment may have the benefit of fresh air, sunshine and rural surroundings in ample ground for work and recreation.” As a first step toward fulfilling her wishes, the Staunton Farm Foundation was incorporated in 1937.
Shortly after the Foundation’s incorporation, it became apparent that there were not enough funds in the estate to both build and operate the kind of center that Mrs. McCready wanted. Fortunately, she foresaw this possibility and stated in her will, “In the event that advances in medical science or in social conditions render carrying of the home…impractical, the directors of Staunton Farm may, with the consent of Orphan’s Court of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, change its character so as to suit the needs of the time, keeping always in view the effort to alleviate the condition of the sick and unfortunate.”
Charged with exploring different options, the directors decided to establish the Staunton Clinic in cooperation with the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine. This outpatient treatment clinic, started as a pilot project, was housed in the University’s Falk Clinic until 1977. Significant funding from Staunton Farm Foundation helped the Sewickley Valley Hospital establish a similar clinic in 1963, and, later, an inpatient facility.
As the Foundation’s assets grew, the Board made grants to other Allegheny County agencies working in behavioral health (mental illness and/or substance use disorders). In 1986, the Board expanded the geographic focus of the Foundation to the ten-county area of southwestern Pennsylvania.