The Catskills Tuberculosis Hospital, also known as the Catskills Memorial Sanitarium for Consumptives, is an abandoned tuberculosis hospital in New York.

Loomis Memorial Sanitarium for Consumptives


History

Tuberculosis, a contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs, was not identified as a single disease until the 1820’s. 4 The use of a glycerine extract of the tubercle bacilli as a screening test for the presence of pre-symptomatic tuberculosis 5 assisted in the reorganization and treatment of the deadly infection.

Dr. Alfred Lebbeus Loomis operated a small hospital and dispensary out of a rented house on West 38th Street in New York City in 1896. 2 Loomis, himself afflicted with tuberculosis, saw a dramatic remission after vacationing in the Adirondacks. 8 Convinced that a prolonged dose of fresh mountain air and rigorous exercise and a healthy diet was the best way to handle the infection.

Loomis partnered with another physician, Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, in 1885 8 to open Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium in Saranac Lake. 3 It was the first tuberculosis sanitarium in the nation. Loomis, however, desired a facility closer to New York City. 3 He acquired 192 acres of land in the Catskill Mountains for a tuberculosis sanitarium. 2

J. Pierpont Morgan, 2 one of the wealthiest men of America, donated $85,000 to have the hospital constructed. 3 Morgan’s first wife, Amelia died of tuberculosis only three months after their wedding.

With his body already weakened from a prior bout of tuberculosis, Loomis contracted pneumonia. 3 He died on January 25, 1895.

Construction on the 190-feet long 60-feet wide sanitarium began in January 1896 and opened in June 1 as the Catskills Memorial Sanitarium for Consumptives. 2 A formal dedication, by Bishop Potter, took place in November.

The new hospital included the 190-feet long 60-feet wide Mary Lewis Reception Hospital that could hold 70 patients, Babbitt Memorial Laboratory, recreation center, firehouse and bakery. 2

The hospital believed in proper and natural nutrition and exercise, along with fresh mountain air, as a way to fight their illness. 1 On the property, patients played croquet and golf on well landscaped and manicured grounds.

The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal reported that after the first six months of operation, there was a remarkable improvement in patient health outcomes in 60% of the cases with 9 discharges. 3 The facility was noted as a pioneer in new treatments and diagnosis of tuberculosis, including the use of X-rays.

By 1901, the hospital campus expanded to 20 buildings, including an observatory, four cottages and doctor residences. 3

The Great Depression took a toll on the fortunes of the sanitarium. In 1938, having expanded to 780 acres but working with a skeleton crew and a few patients, was purchased by physical-culture faddist Bernarr Macfadden. 3 It formally operated until July 31, 1942.

The sanitarium was then gradually converted into a general hospital that served local residents and vacationers. 8 It reopened on August 21, 1951 as the Catskills Loomis Hospital. 6 The facility included 55 beds for medical, surgical and maternity patients and four private rooms for long-term patients. 7 The hospital outfitted an intensive care unit with three cardiac monitors and two oxygen tents on a converted sun porch and an operating room on the third floor.

After the hospital closed, the buildings were re-purposed for Richmond, Virginia’s St. Alban’s Anglican Catholic Holyrood Seminary which operated until 1979. In late 1980, the seminary was acquired by the National Anglican Catholic Church and reopened. 10

By the mid-1990’s, the Anglican Catholic church was in dire straits, with falling membership and the inability to pay priests. By July 1998, the seminary had no students studying. 11

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