in a town called Middleton Massachusetts, The Essex County Tuberculosis
Sanatorium opened in 1928. Just 2 miles north of Danvers State Hospital,
"The San" as it was called, was filled to its capacity during
operation with over 350 patients. During its time, the closest nearby
Sanatorium was located in Hebron, Maine. Several years went by before
the Middlesex County Sanatorium opened in Waltham, Massachusetts to
help assist with the epidemic. The treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis
in the 1920's was not so far advanced as it is today. The sulfa drugs
and penicillin, as well as certain forms of surgery, have since then
eliminated long periods of hospitalization for the illness.
Patients at the San ranged from doctors, lawyers, clergymen, bank
executives, insurance agents and even undertakers. There were fishermen
from Gloucester, tannery workers from Peabody, stone cutters from
Rockport, shoe workers from Lynn, along with many others. The ages
also varied from as young as 7 to as old as 80.
Olin S. Pettingill was the San's first Superintendent. He brought
with him a ready-made staff of nurses and doctors from the Hebron
facility where he had been the head of a smaller institution dedicated
to the study and elimination of tuberculosis. Many staff members lived
on the hospital grounds at the "Webb House" which was located
where the Essex County Correctional Facility is now.The treatment
of pulmonary tuberculosi was then quite simple, good food and plenty
of rest was the initial cure. It wasn't odd to see patients covered
in layers clothes and blankets and the windows open during the winter
months as fresh air was key to recovery. Like many other institutions,
the San kept the male and female patients separated. The male patients
were at one end of the main building and females at the opposite end.
The Essex Sanatorium was completely self-sufficient. It had its own
power, heating and water supply along with animal, fruit and vegetable
farms located west of the property.
In 1960, as tuberculosis cases lessened the Sanatorium helped more
chronic disease patients than tuberculosis patients. Eventually the
chronic disease patients were moved elsewhere and the last tuberculosis
patients were moved to the Middlesex County Hospital in July of 1964.
The buildings sat abandoned for over 12 years. During the years of
abandonment, the San had its share of homeless inhabitants and vandalism
as a 2 alarm blaze destroyed the Superintendent's building on November
5th, 1969. The Superintendent's building was immediately demolished
as a result of the fire damage. The entire campus was razed in 1976.