JN Adam Tuberculosis Sanatorium

History | Photos | Story

JN Adam History

Most of this information is courtesy of the Friends of JN Adam website, at www.jnadam.org. I strongly recommend looking at their site to see a more detailed account of history, as well as view letters from former patients, and to sign the petition to try to save these beautiful buildings, I can't stress that enough.

Additionally, a few historical photos can be found at the webpage documenting John Hopper Coxhead's life. I highly recommend checking them out.

The planning for the JN Adam hospital began in 1910, when the purchase of land for a new Tuberculosis treatment hospital was granted. The location of Perryburg was chosen as an ideal location for the placement of Buffalo's hospital, as it fulfilled the requirements for patient treatment.

In the late 1800's, Doctor Alexander Spengler was experiencing success treating tuberculosis patients in the Swiss Alps by providing them with plenty of rest, fresh air, and good nutrition. They stayed in bed all day, and wore fur clothing to stay warm, as they spent their time outdoors. This theory was based on the observation that while tuberculosis had been around for a long time, it only became a problem upon the onset of the industrial revolution, where people were not getting fresh air, and immune systems were weakened. The principle still holds true today, as in the UK, London's rate is three times higher than the national rate. Spengler's treatment showed positive results, and thus was the model for the Perrysburg hospital.

Doctor John H. Pryor, one of the men overseeing the construction of the hospital, had this to say about the site.

The Perrysburg Hospital site was selected as an ideal Site for a Tuberculosis Hospital, because it fulfills practically all of the requirements. These requirements are altitude, nature of soil, protection from prevailing winds, contour of land for sewage, railroad facilities, considerable distance from city, water supply, roads to reach the hospital, grounds for walks and light work, some farm land for grazing and raising vegetables ...The altitude of the hospital is surprisingly high for this part of the country, being 1450 feet above sea level and only 100 feet lower than the Adirondack Sanatorium. The wind protection afforded by the dense woodland is ample. The view is magnificent.

It was Pryor's decision to employ John Hopper Coxhead as the architect, who's fame came from Buffalo's Delaware Avenue Baptist Church. This was Coxhead's second hospital, after designing a hospital in Jamestown, NY in 1909. Unique features that Coxhead included in the hospital were large verandas and overhangs, so patients could sleep outside without fear of inclement weather, as well as giving each room French doors rather than windows so the patients beds could easily be pushed out onto the veranda.

The dining room was built to be opulent and magestic, rising two and a half stories in a domed structure, capped with a magnificent oculus taken from the Temple of Music from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, the building William McKinley was assassinated in.

The hospital opened on September 13, 1912 with great ceremony. The opening of the hospital was front-page news, with Buffalo Mayor Louis P. Fuhrmann and Doctor Pryor both attending.

The hospital provided great and tender care for the patients. On the Friends of JN Adams site linked at the top of this page, you can read stories of patients and their memories of the place. This was less like a hospital and more like a community. With some regret, however, 48 years later, the community no longer served the purpose it once did. Treatment requiring rest and fresh air fell out of favour with treatment using drugs becoming the new standard. JN Adam was converted into a educational facility for mentally handicapped children.

The buildings survived in this capacity until 1995, when, such as with many mental health buildings in the northeast, institutionalization for the mentally challenged had fallen out of favour, and JN Adam was abandoned except for some minor administrative purposes for a few more years.

Today, proposals have come and gone for the site, including the most recent being a proposal for a logging camp that was fought by the Friends of JN Adam and was subsequently not accepted. The buildings have tremendous historical value, and it is important that whatever becomes of them repairs and maintains the current buildings, rather than just razing them and starting new. For now though, it simply sits unoccupied, sitting over the small town of Perrysburg as a reminder of the important role this small community played in the treatment of a deadly disease.