Silvercrest Sanatorium, a tuberculosis hospital in New Albany, Indiana, was later reused as a disabled children’s development center before closing in 2006. The property has since been restored as an elderly care facility.
The hospital’s construction dated back to 1917 when the Floyd County Tuberculosis Association was established to prevent the spread of the disease and to construct a tuberculosis sanatorium in southern Indiana.1 The region was encompassed within the “black belt,” named such for a region that included Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio where tuberculosis was prevalent.
In 1924, the Association purchased the old Handy Farm on Old Vincennes Road for $6,500 that included 42 total acres, 20 of which were flat and prime for development.1 Funding was secured through popular subscription from the citizens of New Albany and other fundraising efforts that included neighborhood performances and plays, such as one at the Hackett resident at 1732 DePauw Avenue that charged a 3-cent admission and the more elaborate production at Glenwood Park in 1923. The production, titled “The Greatest Gift: A Pagent of Health,” was written for the benefit of the Association and had a cast of 1,000 members.
By 1936, enough money was collected to fund construction of a 20-bed sanatorium on the old Handy Farm.1 Two years later, in July 1938, the Indiana General Assembly held a special session to enact a bill that would locate a site for the Southern Indiana Tuberculosis Hospital.
A New Albany Citizens Committee (NACC) was formed as a result. The NACC, along with the New Albany Chamber of Commerce, submitted a formal proposal that competed with twelve other communities in southern Indiana for the location of the hospital.1 The proposal stated that the Association would donate the existing sanatorium and land to the state, and that the property contained beautiful scenery, a hilltop location, and easy access to transportation. In September, the state announced that New Albany would be the home of the new state hospital.
Indianapolis architect August Bohlen was chosen to design the new hospital, and construction began later in the year as a Public Works Administration project. In August 1940, the $1 million, 150-bed hospital was opened, serving a 32-county region.1 The building was a five-story, Art Moderne-styled structure and contained 147,300 square-feet.5 There was no formal dedication until May 10, 1941, however, as the new hospital was overwhelmed with demand. The formal ceremony that was held included Indiana Governor Henry F. Schricker and other local dignitaries.
Silvercrest contained individual patient rooms instead of wards, such as what was used at Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky.1 It also featured an outpatient clinic, several laboratories, surgery rooms, kitchen and laundry facilities, a dental office, a recreational gym and a heated swimming pool. A residence for the superintendent and several guest houses were located on-site.
In December 1952, five low-rise structures, along with two large residences, were added that cost $275,000. Designed by Hawkins and Walker of New Albany, the new structures were designed in a style similar to a motel.1
Beginning on April 1, 1972, the state began to phase out tuberculosis treatments at Silvercrest due to the development of medicines that began combating the disease.1 The hospital was closed by 1974, and was converted into the Silvercrest Children’s Development Center in that year.2 The developmentally disabled treatment facility was in operation until it closed on May 12, 2006 3 following years of research by the health department, the Family of Social Services Administration, the Office of Management and Budget, the state Department of Education and The ARC of Indiana, an advocacy group for people with developmental disabilities.4 ARC stated that the $8 million a year spent at Silvercrest could be used as a match for federal Medicaid funding, potentially making $24 million available to provide home- and community-based services to more disabled children.
The Department of Health had planned to file a Certificate of Appropriateness to the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board on January 24, 2007 as the first measure towards possible demolition of the hospital, however, it receded the motion after local public outcry.2
After much debate, Silvercrest was sold to developer Matt Chalfant in 2007, who partnered with Louisville-based Trilogy Health Services to rehabilitate the former sanatorium into an assisted living and senior independent living facility called The Villages at Historic Silvercrest.7 The$16 million renovation involved transforming an institutional hospital into a facility with “an upscale hotel” feel, adding a fitness center, tennis courts and a movie theater. The main building was gutted to feature 25 assisted living and 54 skilled-care apartments, and the grounds was reconstructed to house 26 independent living, two-bedroom patio residences and 15 independent living apartments.
A ribbon cutting ceremony organized by the City of New Albany and One Southern Indiana Chamber and Economic Development was held on July 18, 2013.6[stag_toggle style=”normal” title=”Sources” state=”closed”]
- “Silvercrest: An Architectural Treasure in the Hills of New Albany.” New Albany Historic Preservation Commission. 24 Mar. 2009 Article.
- Fulmore, Ted. “Silvercrest Can Be Reused.” Weblog post. Our History in New Albany. 13 Jan. 2007. 24 Mar. 2009 Blog post.
- Moss, Dale. “So Long Silvercrest.” Weblog post. Courier-Journal. 15 May 2006. 24 Mar. 2009.
- “Closing Silvercrest is right decision.” News and Tribune. 23 Jan. 2006. 24 Mar. 2009 Article.
- ““Save Silvercrest” web site is launched: http://savesilvercrest.org/.” Weblog post. NA Confidential. 22 Jan. 2007. 24 Mar. 2009 Article.
- “Villages at Historic Silvercrest celebrates Grand Opening for New Facility.” One Southern Indiana. N.p., 22 July 2013. Web. 24 July 2014. Article.
- “Trilogy senior housing opens in New Albany.” Madison Courier 27 July 2013: n. pag. Madison Courier.com. Web. 24 July 2014. Article.