Boston Sanatorium

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Boston Sanatorium
Opened 1907
Closed 1982
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Rambling Plan
Architect(s) Maginnis & Walsh and James Richie
Location Mattapan, Boston, MA
Alternate Names
  • Boston Consumptives Hospital


The City of Boston established the Boston Sanatorium, first known as Consumptives Hospital, for the care of indigent persons suffering from advanced tuberculosis, one of six hospitals created in the first decade of the 20th century to provide additional services for the city’s poor. The 51-acre campus along the Neponset River enabled the city to isolate highly contagious tubercular patients from the general population at the same time that it could provide them with clean air and a spacious outdoor setting away from the crowded city. The Boston firm of Magginis and Walsh laid out the campus and designed the original hospital buildings between 1907-1920. The architects located the sprawling E-shaped Hospital Ward complex behind the stately Main Administration Building on a rocky hill, where patients could best take advantage of healthful breezes coming off the nearby bay. Built of concrete, an unusual material for such a formal structure of the period, the Hospital Ward displays considerable architectural merit. In 1929, the hospital’s mission broadened to include treatment of impoverished persons with all manners of health needs.

In 1929, with the ambitious expansion of the sanatorium's physical plant well underway, the hospital's program and policies were reorganized in anticipation of the complex's change of function from a hospital with the narrow focus of caring for persons with advanced cases of Tuberculosis to a much larger facility charged with the care of impoverished persons with all stages of this disease. It was noted in the Annual Report of the Hospital Department for 1929 that "in other words, our function has been enlarged from an asylum for the dying to that of a true sanatorium." This report voiced concerns about the hospital's inability to attract a well-trained permanent staff, remarking on this campuses lack of proximity to downtown Boston ,"wretched" living quarters for the staff and the continual problem of medical interns appointed for only short periods of time. Evidently, the expansion of the old buildings and the construction of new staff living quarters served to alleviate many of the problems cited in the 1929 Annual Report. In 1930, the staff of the Sanatorium treated 835 persons suffering from Tuberculosis. This figure represents an increase of patients from the previous year. By 1933, the Boston Sanatorium complex was substantially complete. By that year a total of 21 buildings were situated on the sanatorium's grounds essentially representing the greatest extent of its growth.

In 1999 the Boston Redevelopment Authority and Boston Public Health Commission selected Trinity Financial, Inc. to redevelop 27 acres of this site. Phase I, which involves rehabilitating the Foley Building into 98 units of senior housing and the E-building to house Entra Familia's young mother's substance abuse program, is underway. Phase I cost $19 million and was completed February 2003. Phase II involved rehabilitating buildings at the rear of the campus, including the monumental Hospital Ward, into approximately 124 senior residential units.