Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered
Newspaper 6

The following article was published in the State College Centre Daily Times on Saturday, December 5, 2009.   


Web site renews sanitarium interest

I’m a Penn Stater, Class of 1962, now retired and living in the hill country of Texas. But this story begins in 1955, when I was 17 years old and a senior at Towanda Valley High School in Towanda.

I was looking forward to graduating from high school and enrolling at Penn State that fall. But my plans suddenly changed when, in March 1955, I was given a diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis and was sent to the state TB sanitarium in Cresson, where I spent 16 months recovering.

About six months ago I decided to document that experience on a small personal Web site with memories and photos of my time at the sanitarium. Within a few weeks I started receiving e-mails from people who had a past connection to the sanitarium. These people included former patients, medical staff and kitchen workers.

I also received e-mails from children and grandchildren of former patients seeking more information about a family member who had been a TB patient at the sanitarium. Many of the people who have contacted me have allowed me to add their personal stories and photos, so in the past six months the site has become more of a memorial site to remember loved ones and how their lives and those of their families were affected by TB.

I was also interested in re-creating the history of the sanitarium and contacted many of the local historical societies in the towns around the Cresson area for information, which they gladly provided. The state archives was an invaluable source of photographs documenting life at the sanitarium from the perspective of patients and staff.

The resulting compiled data on the Web site represent a unique visual historical record of life at the sanitarium. The sanitarium, which was opened 1913, was closed as a TB facility in the mid 1960s when it was no longer needed thanks to effective drugs that conquered the disease.

In four years, the sanitarium will celebrate its 100th anniversary and some of the local historical societies are contemplating an anniversary celebration. Who knows? Maybe a reunion of the sanitarium “alumni” could be arranged at that time.

TB was a dreaded killer in this country in the first half of the 20th century, affecting many families from all walks of life. I’d like to give an open invitation to anyone who has information, photos or a personal story concerning Cresson sanitarium to contact me and submit material for publication on the Web site.

The information on the site,, is for public use and anyone has my permission to download items of interest.

Chuck Felton lives in Lakehills, Texas, and can be reached at