Mountain Park Sanatorium

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Mountain Park Sanatorium
Current Status Closed
Building Style Single Building
Location Berks County


During the interval between 1873, the end of the Smith family's operation of the Hygiean Home (Grand-View) and its purchase by Drs. Wenrich and Deppen (1879) the resort was leased from the Smith estate by Dr. Robert Walter and his wife, Eunice, also a physician.

During his three-year tenure at the Hygiean Home, Dr. Walter came to the conclusion that some other establishment was needed to combine all of his ideas. His own youth had been spent as an invalid, forced to move from one curative institution to another.

At one point, in 1868, he records that he was "at the point of death." He attributed his own recovery to a combination of pure air, fresh water, exercise, the Swedish movement, massage, and electrical applications of various types.

In 1876, he founded the institution which, for many years, bore his name as Walter's Park, on South Mountain, below Wernersville. Of his method of treatment he said in 1909:

This system of treatment was first organized at Wernersville by myself and its success is best declared by the innumerable institutions throughout the country who have adopted the title and administered the treatment as best they know. Dr. Robert Walter was indeed an individualist. The inscription he wrote for his tombstone (located in Hain's Church Cemetery, Wernersville) five years before his death (1921) provides an insight into his personality and belief: WALTER-Dr. Robert Walter, twice paralyzed and pronounced hopelessly incurable, has carried a so-called heart disease for sixty years; impoverished through medical empiricism in 1873, he came to Wernersville burdened with a great idea, but aided by a noble help-meet, began a system of health treatments entirely new, with results of surpassing importance to himself and 15,000 others. Hence, THE TRUE SANATORY IDEA, the power of life derivable from the patient is the only power of cure. All medicaments which appear to increase this power, do instead reduce it through expenditure and tend to prevent recovery, all the while they appear to be promoting it. This was Walter's conclusion after ten years' experience, now confirmed by 50 years' verification. The Just Shall Live by Faith, the Only Scientific Basis.

At the time of its greatest development, Walter's Park comprised 500 acres of mountain land. The main building was 300 feet long and five stories high. Built like a medieval castle it snuggled against the green slopes of South Mountain, a beautiful sight to behold from any vantage point in the Lebanon Valley to the north.

"No malaria, no mosquitoes, no dew" was a proud boast of Walter's Park. Many distinguished guests sought its shelter, among them the widow of General Stonewall Jackson and the great statesman, William Jennings Bryan. The place was equipped with electric lights, a hydraulic elevator, a circulating library, and a livery stable which featured standard-bred horses for riding. Pool, billiards, tennis, bowling, croquet and many other diversions were offered discerning guests.

After the death of Dr. Walter, the "park" became the property of a corporation which renamed the spot "South Mountain Manor" and for a number of years thereafter it continued to supply some of the services which the former institution had offered.

In more recent years it became the headquarters for a sporting fraternity, attracting mountain-lovers from nearby metropolitan areas. Today it is a "white elephant" owned by a Philadelphia textile manufacturer and his associates. [1]