History

Harmony House, a Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services rehabilitation program for adults with mental illnesses, is celebrating moving into its fourth and largest location since it came into existence 23 years ago.

At an open house Wednesday, James Bebeau, director of Behavioral Health Services at DPCS, said Harmony House provides day treatment for people who struggle in their daily lives with mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia.

The building, once the cafeteria for the former Robert E. Lee Junior High School on Rison Street, took eight months to renovate and includes offices, the gym, a commercial kitchen and various socializing areas where clients can enjoy television, a game of pool and crafts.

There also is a computer lab where clients can practice skills they will need to enter the job market.

William Pritchett, chairman of the board of Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services and a Pittsylvania County supervisor, said the programs offered at Harmony House give its consumers tools for self-determination, empowerment and recovery.

Mayor Sherman Saunders became emotional as he told a story about the man who owns the property and leases it to the community services group —

Mobley said his company was formed specifically to provide low-cost, but good, facilities for DPCS. Besides Harmony House, DPCS leases apartments, an adult day care center and other properties from Bellevue.

from article by Denice Thibodeau

History of the Present Day Site

As with almost all things in Danville, there is a rich history behind them if you care to go back and look for it. The site of the present-day Harmony House facility is no exception. Sometimes, staff and the members conduct ‘archaeological’ forays around the property looking at artifacts from the ruins.

It seems that Danville underwent a vigorous expansion phase in the 1920’s and Danville’s clerk of court, William Rison William Risonhad an old oaken grove that was put into use for building one of the many public schools which sprang up about that time. (This was called Rison Park). The original George Washington high school was built facing what is now Holbrook and the lot that Harmony House sits on was part of the Athletic Fields (Rison Park). Present day Rison Street was called Wylie Street back then. George Washington H.S. moved in 1957 and in 1978 a town-house development was built on the site with the brick privacy-wall constructed with bricks from the old high school.

You can read more about this fascinating subject on the Old West End blog by clicking here.

Rison Park
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