Grand-View Sanatorium

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Grand-View Sanatorium
Established 1911
Current Status Closed
Building Style Single Building
Location Berks County


The first person to be attracted to South Mountain with a view to establishing a health center was Dr. Charles E. Leisenring, a native of Germany. He had come to southeastern Pennsylvania for the single purpose of building a sanatorium. After investigating possibilities in Ephrata, Lancaster County, and the various springs close to the city of Reading, he decided that these spots, although good, could not assure him of the abundant supply of water that he needed for his enterprise.

Cushion Hill on South Mountain suited Leisenring's purpose. Between 1847 and 1855 he built his first cottages and covered the springs which he found in his newly acquired 50-acre plot. His venture was known by various names, most common of which was "Cushion Hill Water Cure," another, "Cold Spring Water Cure" and sometimes "Mountain Resort." Leisenring's death in June 1857 cut short the extension of his elaborate plans. The establishment was operated by a "Mr. Adolphus" (first name not known) until 1865, when the property was purchased by Dr. and Mrs. Aaron Smith. Both Dr. Smith and his wife were graduated from a School of Hydropathy. They renamed the place "Hygiean Home," in order to distinguish its purposes from the "water cure" of Dr. Leisenring. The Smiths introduced many new practices such as massages, "electrical treatments" and the like. They expanded the buildings, added new ones and operated successfully from 1865 to 1873.

Dr. Reuben D. Wenrich and Dr. James W. Deppen, two local physicians, purchased the property from the Smith estate (1879), renaming it Grand-View Sanatorium. The main building (now known as the Hotel) was enlarged to a size that would accommodate 150 guests.

Its situation commanded a magnificent view of the Lebanon Valley. The solarium on the sixth floor was enclosed in glass; here, those suffering from rheumatism, nervous exhaustion and other ailments could bask in the sunshine, securing the benefits of a southern climate.

The diseases treated were principally those of a chronic but curable character. The physicians considered the climate especially helpful for catarrhal conditions, rheumatism, gout, nervous prostration and liver complaints. Their treatments other than medical included massage, electricity in various forms, salt rubs, vapor and sulphur baths.

The "Pavilion Spring" water which had proven most beneficial in kidney, liver, and stomach diseases was well known. Water from this spring was sold in nearly every state in the union. In 1890 the price of 1 bbl., 40 gallons, was $6.00; 1/2 bbl., $3.50; 1 case of 12 1/2 gallon bottles, $2.70; 5 gallons in 1/2-gallon bottles, $2.00, delivered f.o.b. Wernersville.

The Grand-View Chapel (non-sectarian) is a beautiful edifice, built of gray limestone, with stained glass windows, and has a seating capacity for 100 people. The chapel is surrounded on all sides by evergreen and dogwood trees, which give it a very picturesque setting.

After the death of Dr. Deppen in 1895, Dr. Wenrich continued operating the "Grand-View." He had as his associates his two sons, Dr. George G. and Dr. John A. Wenrich. Dr. William F. Muhlenberg and Dr. Daniel B. D. Beaver of Reading were consulting physicians and surgeons.

This sanatorium was closed after Dr. Reuben Wenrich's death in 1926. The main building is still standing, but has never again been occupied as a health resort. Today the major portions of Grand-View are owned hy two brothers, Anthony and Sebastian Bodanza. [1]