Pottenger Sanatorium

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Pottenger Sanitarium
Opened 1903
Closed 1955
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Single Building
Location Monrovia, CA
Alternate Names


Dr. Frances Marion Pottenger was born and educated in Ohio, receiving his M.D. degree and graduating with the highest honors in his class. It was after Dr. Pottenger's wife died of tuberculosis in 1898, three years after she developed the disease, that he decided to take up the study of TB as his life's work. He opened the Pottenger Sanatorium in 1903 in what is now the 500-600 blocks of north Canyon Boulevard. When it first opened, it sat on 40 acres and had a capacity for eleven patients which later grew to accommodate 134 patients.

Perhaps the most famous of Pottenger’s patients was the silent screen star Mabel Normand. She was born on November 10, 1892, and starred in silent films from 1911-1926. She appeared in 12 films with Charlie Chaplin and another 17 with Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. She was also a screenwriter, director, and producer. Her work in early films earned her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She suffered a recurrence of tuberculosis in 1923 which led to a decline in her health and finally retirement from films. She spent an extended time at the Pottenger Sanatorium and died there on February 23, 1930, at the age of 37.

Dr. Pottenger eventually became one of the leading lung specialists in Southern California, and one of the world's leaders and pioneers in the fight against tuberculosis. Because of his commitment to his work, the Pottenger Sanatorium became one of the most famous institutions devoted to the treatment of diseases of the lungs. He believed that isolating the patient from the world outside and giving the patient fresh air with easy access to a physician provided the best chance for combating the disease.

The sanatorium was closed in 1955 when Dr. Pottenger, who was 88 years old at the time, retired. He died in 1967. For about the next 20 years, the land was leased to the Carmelite Order as a convent and retreat. Sometime in the 1970s the land was sold and became the housing development known as Canyon Crest. Today nothing remains of the sanatorium's buildings.