From: Joe Huth
Subject: Cresson State TB Sanitorium
Date: Mar 18, 2013
across your site while I was doing some research on the Cresson Sanitorium. My name is Joe Huth. I am 31 years old and, as the oldest grandson in the family, I recently inherited all
of my family's geneology records (pictures, correspondence, etc...)
out that my Great Great Aunt, Vallie Mellinger, was a patient at the Sanitorium from sometime in 1917 until her death on December
11, 1918. I believe she died at the Sanitorium.
I have approximately 30 letters written to and from Vallie while she was at Cresson
that I am still going through. If I find anything of interest, I will be sure to forward on to you. I did find these pictures of Cresson, which would have been taken in 1918.
for your site and providing some info on the place.
1. The Medical Director's House, which in 1918 would have
been occupied by William G. Turnbull M.D.
2. The Main Corridor near the women's East Wing Ward.
3. The front side of the women's East Wing Ward. The
front door and steps are located in the middle of the building.
4. The end of the women's East Wing Ward. The open air
sun porches were added later. The ladder going from the 2nd to the 3rd floor (near the fire escape on the right) was
probably a rudementary "fire escape" for staff living in the attic of the buulding. The ladder can also be
seen on the left edge of photo 3 above.
5. The women's pavilion for taking the rest cure, in all kinds
of weather (See photo 10 below). In the right background is an example of the women's camp, which were crude
structures completely open in the front to let in the maximum amount of fresh air and sun.
6. Taken near the women's pavilion.
7. This is actually a photo postcard, On the back Vallie wrote: "The
whole bunch in our ward. I put an X above our doctor (man in the back row just to right of light fixture) and
the tall nurse is our day nurse. The short one is our night nurse." So there were 23 patients in Vallie's
8. Of particular interest is the center photo of this collage which
was taken at Christmas time. The patients were allowed to decorate their ward at Christmas to bring some cheer into
what was a rather mundane institutional setting. Crepe paper bells are hanging from the ceiling and sprigs of pine
branches hanging from the middle of each window spread their scent throughout the whole ward. The top of the doorway
at the end of the ward is decorated with garlands and Christmas stockings are hanging from it.
obviously cold weather as the patients are wearing heavy clothing and sweaters. Heavy blankets are draped over the foot
of the beds. Cold air was thought to be an essential part of the cure for TB, so the ward windows were opened even in
winter to supply frigid air for the patients.
9. The top left photo was taken in front of a rustic arbor
near the women's pavilion. It appears to have been a sunny summer day as the patients are all wearing light
The lower left photo was taken in much colder weather as evidenced by the hats and heavy
coats, some trimmed in fur.
10. The middle photo shows the women in the open air pavilion taking
the "rest cure". The patients would bundle up in warm clothes and blankets and sit for hours breathing the
frigid winter air. The trees in the background are totally bare indicating it is a winter setting.
white wooden panels near the ceiling were hinged and could be rotated down to block off the top half of the screen window.
They were probably used to keep patients dry during heavy rain and for gusty wind control.
11. Photos 11 through 13 show that even at the san, patients made
the best of a bad situation by making new friends and having many happy moments together.
The following is a letter written by Val
to her sister describing her Christmas Day experience at the san in 1917. It shows once again the courage
of the patients who made the best of a bad situation. And look at that penmanship!
Vallie's death certificate shows that she actually died
at age 24 of the flu while at Cresson San during the great 1918 flu pandemic which killed millions of people worldwide.