"I am only half there when I am ill, and so there is only half a man to suffer. To suffer in one's whole self is so great a violation, that it is not to be endured."

- David Herbert Lawrence

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

- Carl Sagan

Central Maine Sanitorium

The Central Maine Sanatorium in Fairfield, ME is an ongoing project of the KCPS. The building requires special permissions to gain admittance. We have been researching this particular site for many years now.

There are only two buildings still standing on the grounds, which are found at the lower right hand corner of the accompanied picture of the Sanatorium taken when all buildings were standing on the grounds located on Atwood hill.

Source: Papers filed in 1947 found at the Fairfield, Maine Historical Society, with some hand written notes added at a later date.

The facility known as Central Maine Sanatorium is also known as Chase Sanatorium. Was founded circa 1909 in Waterville, Maine as a small clinic after Dr. Arthur Downs {died 10/13/1913 in Portland, Maine of Meningitis} in this clinic the patients would be tested and those found to have tuberculosis were kept there for a time in early 1910 a tent colony was established on Atwood hill, with patients coming during the day to rest in tents and returning to their homes at night. Over the course of the next three years many tents were set up and a small shack was built where the Chase building was later erected. It was shortly after the death of Dr. Downs that the land some 25 acres were purchased from Mr. Atwood for the price of $1000. In the summer of 1914 the building which housed 18 patients was destroyed by fire {no record at this time if any lives were lost at that time}

In 1914 the first real structure was built after a generous donation from Valora A. Chase, the building was known as the Chase Memorial building after her husband Mr. Frank Chase. At this time the association was known as Central Maine Association for the Relief and Control of Tuberculosis, the name was changed to Chase Memorial Sanatorium. The donation made by Mrs. Chase was a true foot hold for the Sanatorium. With the new building making it possible to house about thirty to thirty-five patients, Dr. Downs’s ambition was finally coming to fruition even if he was not there to see it.

In 1915 a law was passed entitled “An Act to Provide for the Care and Treatment of Tuberculosis Persons” A board of trustees was organized on August 2, 1915 to secure suitable property to carry out the provisions of this act. This board consisted of Dr’s from all over the state of Maine and their first act was to establish through purchase or leasing the securing of lands and building to house patients in one or more locations in Maine. After investigating several sights in Maine the board decided to purchase the institutions already founded in both Hebron and Fairfield, Maine.

The property in Fairfield was operated under the name of Chase Memorial Sanatorium. The value including land, buildings and equipment amounted to $32000. The state acquired the property for $15000 taking possession on September 1, 1915 at which time the name was changed to Central Maine Sanatorium, and the first of many improvements were made including the establishment of running water and sanitation. The other location in Hebron, Maine was meant to house the cases deemed curable with all advanced cases being sent to Central Maine Sanatorium. This was later changed so that all types of cases would be treated at this location.

Three new buildings were also erected so that the facility could house patients as quickly as possible. In 1915 Dr. John Shaw was appointed the first Superintendent of Central Maine Sanatorium and remained until 1932. The capacity of the sanatorium had reached fifty patients at the end of year 1915.

In the year 1918 a building was erected housing about 93 patients which was known as the Hardy Building. This building greatly increased the capacity of the Sanatorium and made for more efficient work. In 1920 the Milliken annex to the Chase building was completed. This gave quarters for the help which were very much needed also a central kitchen and general dinning room with dining rooms for the help and medical staff.

The next building constructed was known as the Downs Building constructed in 1923. This was for children and accommodated 32. This was used for children until 1933 when some of the children were discharged. The remaining children were transferred to Hebron facility, after the transfer this building was used to house male patients with advanced cases being treated there. Dr. Shaw and his family occupied an apartment in the upper part of the Chase building. A house was built for the superintendent in 1925.

The next building to be built was the Elizabeth building to house the nurses who until this time were living in various builds around the campus and causing overcrowding in some of the buildings. The building was named after Elizabeth Marco in honor of Miss Marco who gave so unstintingly of her time and labor and went through all of the vicissitudes of the early days and later worked hard to help develop the institution. The Elizabeth building was a beautiful home and the quarters and large sitting room made it feel like a real home for the nursing staff.

In 1929 the Jewell building was erected in honor of Ralph Jewell who for many years was the president of the Board of Trustees. This building housed 46 patients and was equipped with an x-ray and laboratory unit. As well as rooms for giving pneumothorax treatment, a large conference room, examination rooms, rooms for light treatment, and a finely equipped surgical unit.

In 1937 most of the female employees were housed in the Chase building and these accommodations were over crowded and inadequate for the winters in Maine. So a building was erected to house the male employees on the first and the female on the second floors. The facility also built a building between the Jewell and Milliken buildings where employees could entertain guest and personal recreation. After the last of the employees were moved from the Chase building in the fall of 1938 it was possible to add seventeen more beds for patients and five at the Downs building, making capacity at the time 208.

In 1932 Dr. Paul Wakefield was secured as the Superintendent and remained until July, 1936. Dr. Shaw was appointed Superintendent from then till his untimely death on November 22, 1936 {it is possible that Dr. Shaw may have died on site at the facility in 1936} Following Dr. Shaw’s death, Dr. Charles D. Cromwall who was assistant superintendent became Superintendent and remained until the 1947 or later.

In 1947 at the time these records were made the Central Maine Sanatorium, land, buildings and equipment were valued at $486,972.72 When the Sanatorium was purchased in 1915 for $15,000 the value was estimated at $32,000 at that time. With a capacity of 208 patients the census taken at the time of these documents was 201 patients and total of 92 staff.

Handwritten notes on the document as follow:                                                                  

Hardy and Jewell Buildings torn down approximately 1965-66

Treatment Plant constructed approximately 1966-1967

Miss Marco died July, 1979

Sanatorium Closed June 30, 1970

Dr. Chas Popplestone Superintendent 1947 – 1949 {was killed, car hit train in front of old “Jefferson Hotel”}

Dr. Robertson Acting Superintendent for 6 months in 1949

Dr. William Grow Superintendent 1949 – 1967

Dr. Percy McIntyre Superintendent 1967 – 1970 when the Sanatorium closed on June 30, 1970

Later that year the sanatorium was sold to men from Augusta, Maine area, and for 1 year was a hospital for alcoholics, etc… then became a nursing home.

Downs, Chase and Milliken Buildings torn down approximately 1978 – 79