The Catskills Tuberculosis Hospital, also known as the Catskills Memorial Sanitarium for Consumptives, is an abandoned tuberculosis hospital in New York.
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. 8 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. 9 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