Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered

History 8 Cresson Sanatorium Design Plan

Cresson Tb Sanatorium “Cottage Plan”

Up until the end of the 19th century, most institutions were designed according to the Kirkbride Plan in which the administrative staff and all patients were housed in one large building.  Also called the linear plan, it tended to produce very large, long rectangular structures.  But by the middle of the nineteenth century, some doctors complained that large monolithic asylums had not lived up to their expectations, with respect to noise, violence and patient control.  Psychiatrists at the time believed that architecture influenced human conduct, and proposed a new plan to replace the Kirkbride plan hospitals.

The result was the Cottage Plan , a style of asylum planning that gained popularity at the very end of the 19th century and continued to be very popular well into the 20th century.  This plan usually consisted of a multitude of individual buildings that housed a specific patient type. The Cresson TB Sanatorium was designed according to the cottage plan and typifies its main elements as follows:

1.    Buildings were normally two stories tall or less

2.    Buildings were connected by underground tunnels

3.    Patients were segregated by sex, individual buildings for men and women

4.    The men and women’s buildings were located on opposite sides of the hospital complex.

5.    An administration building would typically be near the front and center of the complex.

6.    Communal buildings, like a chapel, kitchen, gymnasium, or auditorium were often in the center of the complex.




At the turn of the 20th Century, there were two types of sans as follows:

Sanitarium:  a kind of health resort.

Sanatorium:  a hospital for long-term illness, most typically associated with TB.

The mixing of these two spellings was decried by a Dr. Bowditch in 1902 in a comment he made in a medical journal as follows:

"May I here, at the risk of seeming to be a purist, ask everyone here to protest against the apparently growing use in the lay papers and elsewhere of the mongrel word " Sanitorium," a mixture of spelling enough to make any lover of good English and Latin shuldder. It is unfortunate that we have the two words " Sanitarium " and " Sanatorium," but at least let us not make matters worse by manufacturing a monster that is "neither fish, flesh, nor fowl."