|Building Style||Cottage Plan|
The Military Sanatorium Macleod was opened in 1916 to provide care for military veterans with tuberculosis, catering exclusively for soldiers. It was located on the eastern slope of Gresswell Hill in the Mont Park hospitals complex. Since it was a Sanatorium, patients were to be exposed to fresh air and sunlight to aid their recovery, and could do light work. Visitors came via the railway to Macleod or Watsonia stations which were about a mile away (1500 m). Families also came from Heidelberg station. The Red Cross generously provided cars to pick up visitors from the stations.
In 1921 the Repatriation Department took over administration of the Macleod Sanatorium from the Defence Department. By 1922 the Red Cross Society had raised funds to have a croquet lawn installed for the veterans as well as installing a veranda to cover the porches. A tennis court, gym equipment, a laundry and reading and music facilities also resulted from fundraising efforts. Local groups from Greensborough, Eltham and Hurstbridge provided weekly afternoon teas with cakes, and flowers to decorate the tables for the men. Distinguished guests such as the Governor and Melbourne Mayors often visited according to the newspapers of the day, and the wards were then decorated with bunting and flowers.
The long wards all ran north-south on the Gresswell Hill, stepped down along the quite steep eastern slopes, and had quite pleasant views. Levelled out areas near the base of the hill were utilised as a tennis court and croquet lawn. Men were encouraged to play a variety of sports and worked on the surrounding land producing copious vegetables and tending poultry. Other work therapy for the purpose of retraining the men, involved leather work, wood work, building construction and concreting.
During the 1940s there had been substantial building work, and ultimately the Macleod Hospital was productively re-purposed in 1960. From a Sanatorium it became the Macleod Repatriation Hospital, and at about the same time, Gresswell Hospital became a public Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre. TB was no longer a widespread and debilitating problem because drug treatment and vaccination had become available, and the facilities could be revamped. By the 1980s Macleod was known as a Veterans’ Affairs Aged Care Facility, with occupational therapy, physiotherapy and social work services for the veterans and some of their widows.
In 1993 Macleod was closed and the whole Mont Park site was developed for housing as the Springthorpe Estate. Fortunately much vegetation still exists in the spacious public areas of Gresswell Hill and the Gresswell Reserve. Some very old river red gums and pine trees planted 100 years ago remain, and kangaroos thrive in the surrounding popular bushy Reserves.