Markleton Sanatorium

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Markleton Sanatorium
Current Status Closed
Building Style Single Building
Location Markleton, Pa.
Alternate Names
  • United States Army General Hospital No. 17


Markleton Sanatorium was originally a private hotel-like sanatorium where guests would visit for relaxation as well as treatment from every day "illnesses" like stress. The sanatorium would later be converted for use by the US Army as a tuberculosis sanatorium.

The sanatorium was situated on the main line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, between Cumberland and Pittsburg. It was nestled among the mountains at an altitude of 1,700 feet, which shut it in on both the east and the west, and was, therefore, not exposed to the cold winds of the winter. Its main building was a five-story, steam-heated, brick structure, with north and south frame wings, each of which was 150 feet long. Water was supplied from numerous springs high up on the mountain side. The sanatorium had baths of salt, electric, Turkish, and vapor. The original building had a capacity of 150. The town of Markleton comprised, mainly, the railroad station, 2 stores, and about 20 small dwellings located along the railroad tracks to a coal mine about three-fourths of a mile distant. The nearest town of any size was Rockwood, about 7 miles away.

In January, 1918, the sanatorium was a in poor state of repair. It was offered to the Government, for lease or sale. A representative of the Surgeon General's Office inspected it, and, on February 5, the Surgeon General recommended that it be leased for use as a general hospital in the care and treatment of tuberculosis. The recommendation was approved, and the lease was executed February 25, 1918. Included in the transaction were the sanatorium, with its complete equipment, a laundry and cold-storage plant, a power plant, outbuildings, several farmhouses, and 100 acres of land, all obtained for a rental of $20,000 a year. Under a separate agreement, some cottages were leased for use as quarters for nurses on duty at the hospital. The designation General Hospital No. 17 was given on March 21, 1918; it was opened in the following month, with a bed capacity of 100,86 and was soon filled.

At the time General Hospital No. 17 was secured, the need for additional beds for tuberculosis patients in general hospitals was pressing, and it was exceedingly difficult to find suitably located places that could be used for the treatment of tuberculosis, and even more difficult to induce owners of properties to lease them: they were decidedly averse to the use of them for hospitals for the tuberculous. These almost insurmountable difficulties influenced the selection of the comparatively undesirable Markleton Sanatorium. It was not well suited to general hospital purposes; it was small and would not have permitted of an economical expansion by the construction of a sufficient number of buildings to constitute a hospital that would be on a par with the general hospitals then being provided. It was estimated that between 300 and 400 patients could be cared for; however, the subsequent history of the hospital, not unlike those of General Hospitals Nos. 13, 15, and 18, proved the fallacy of this estimate.

On March 4, 1918, personnel was sent to the hospital, and its renovation and alteration were begun. Following this, the construction of six tuberculosis wards, in the vicinity of the main building, was authorized and started. This temporary construction was stopped, however, after three buildings had been built. At one time, in the summer of 1918, the abandonment of the hospital was considered; but the entertainment of the idea was dropped: there was too much uncertainty regarding future military necessities. It developed at this time, too, that the lesson had been led to understand that the sanatorium had been leased for not only the period of the war, but one year thereafter, and that it was mainly because of this understanding that he had been induced to permit the discontinuance of the sanatorium, as such, and to enter into a lease with the Government.

Later in the fall available bed space for the tuberculous became critical, and further construction at this hospital was requested, but, because of the armistice, was not consummated. The maximum bed capacity of the hospital was 200. This bed capacity had been attained by August, 1918, coincident with the number of patients under treatment. Both bed capacity and the number of patients remained at that figure until the hospital was closed on March 27, 1919.

Being a hospital for the treatment of tuberculosis, the development of physical reconstruction activities was attempted, but, due to the small size of the hospital, the results, as obtained elsewhere, were not secured.[1]

Images of Markleton Sanatorium[edit]

Main Image Gallery: Markleton Sanatorium