Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered
Newspaper 34
The following article, written by Kathy Mellott, was published in the Johnstown Tribune Democrat on Tuesday September 4, 2012. Click the following link to go to the newspaper website:

                                          Historic model’s new site
                                          Cresson Sanitorium display is at college
                                          Kathy Mellott The Tribune-Democrat 

Tuberculosis, a dreaded disease that killed millions before an immunization was developed, will be getting the attention of nursing students at Mount Aloysius College through a scale model of “The San.”

The former Cresson TB Sanitorium in Cresson Township, known as The San, was recreated in a scale model by a local craftsman and now is on display at the college.

“This will be a good example of how things were treated in the past and how they are being treated now,” said Rebecca Zukowski, director of the college’s nursing division.

The 3-foot-by-6-foot model was built by Fred Connacher, a World War II veteran, with the help of his daughter Theresa McConnell. The model depicts the expansive facility as it was about five years before it was turned into a facility for the mentally challenged.

“I’m very pleased that it (the model) is up there,” Connacher said Monday.

It is not Connacher’s first work to be displayed at the college.

In 1995, he donated his model of the Cresson Mountain House Resort, a 1,000-room hotel built on the side of the mountain.

The resort model has been on display in the college library since 1995.

The sanitorium was built in 1912 and was one of four TB sanitoriums operated by the state Health Department.

The facility treated thousands of TB patients for more than 50 years until drug therapies brought the disease under control in the U.S.

Connacher and McConnell began working on the model in January 2011 and completed it that July. In August, a reunion marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the facility.

Buildings on the grounds of The San changed significantly after 1965, so Connacher used aerial photographs taken in April 1960 to recreate the buildings and grounds.

The photos from nearly every direction gave Connacher a wide perspective of the facility.

The model was on display for the reunion at the Cresson American Legion, and Connacher is pleased that it has a more permanent home.

“I contacted them at Mount Aloysius. ... I’m very pleased that it’s up there,” he said.

Connacher estimates that he spent about 1,000 hours on the project, which is made of wood.

McConnell spent nearly as much time doing the landscaping and detail work, he said.

Although TB has all but been eradicated from the United States, skin tests are still administered, even to new nursing students at Mount Aloysius.

“They now have a living reminder of why we don’t want a resurgence of TB,” Zukowski said.