Gabriels Sanatorium

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Gabriels Sanatorium
Opened 1897
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Gabriels, NY
Alternate Names


Gabriels Sanitarium opened on July 16, 1897, for treatment of Tuberculosis invalids in the Adirondacks. It was named in honor of the Right Reverend Bishop Henry Gabriels who had urged the Sisters of Mercy to attempt the establishment of the much needed sanitarium. Sister Mary of the Perpetual Help Kiernan, of the Sisters of Mercy Order, used her untiring faith and energy to make her dream a reality. Sister Mary and her co-worker Sister McAuley lived in a log cabin with the gift of a donkey and cart for transportation. Within a few years, although they only had $15 from the Mother House and a lot of determination to work with, they acquired the site and several buildings.

Dr. Seward Webb and Mr. Paul Smith donated the first 100 acres of land and the State of New York followed with a grant of 600 additional acres. Many people gave generously and donations were used to support the property. Only those with at least moderately advanced cases of Tuberculosis were admitted as patients. When they entered, they were not only treated for Tuberculosis, but also were taught every detail of prevention so they might tell others and possibly prevent other cases from developing. Fifteen per cent of the patients were treated free of charge, a few paid the entire cost, and most patients paid less than the full cost of treatment. The average patient's length of stay was eight months.

The Sanitarium flourished through the hard work and dedication of its staff, and despite the destruction of several buildings due to fire over the course of its history. However, after World War II, the decline of Tuberculosis forced the Sanitarium staff to devote most of their facilities to geriatric patients. In the 68 years of the sanitarium's operation, over 5,500 patients were treated. Sixty-nine per cent of the patients benefited from treatment and a great number were able to return to their former lives.

After a series of unsuccessful fund drives and a re-evaluation of the Sanitarium's new nursing program, the Sisters decided to sell the property. On August 15, 1965, Paul Smith's College purchased the Gabriels Sanitarium property for $150,000 as an extension center for their growing Forestry Program.

Gabriels housed the sophomore foresters enrolled in a block program for the fall term. Later classes were held there, as well, to avoid having to provide transportation to the main campus. Classes were taught in the basement of Rest-a-While Cottage, while the Butler Building served as classrooms and a cafeteria. The Butler Building was built in the early 1970s as a gymnasium, but it was later used as a cafeteria and for additional classroom space.

By 1977, declining enrollment led to buildings deteriorating due to disuse, and the school started moving the different options of the Forestry Program back to the main campus. Finally only the forest technicians were at Gabriels. Also, in 1979-80 two new dormitories were constructed and opened to students, which provided additional space on campus so that only thirty-five students went to Gabriels to live for the last time. The Gabriels campus had become such a financial liability that the administration opened up two additional cottages on the main campus, Moffet and Walker, for the Spring semester to house the thirty-five remaining students. The fall term of 1980 was the last to see Paul Smith's students at the Gabriels campus. By this time, it was being used only as dormitory space— all classes and dining services were at the main campus.

The college then sold the facility to the State of New York to be used for a minimum security prison. Camp Gabriels received its first draft of inmates on August 30, 1982. These residents were transferred to Camp Gabriels from the Adirondack Correctional Facility, which had been upgraded from a Camp to a Medium Security Facility. The first group of twenty-five inmates was selected because of their building skills. These men were all housed on one floor in the first housing unit and proceeded to refurbish the second floor and the other housing unit areas in a systematic fashion. As additional housing areas were reconstructed, more inmates were received at the facility.

The Camp's maximum capacity was initially designated at 149. A year later in the Fall of 1983, the Camp experienced a modest increase; the capacity was increased from 149 to 166. The next expansion occurred two years after the Camp's inception. In August of 1984, the capacity was increased to 201 beds. In July of 1987, the population increased to 251 due to the Shock Incarceration Program at other Camps. During 1991, budgetary constraints caused a loss of ENCON personnel associated with Correctional Camps. The former ENCON Crews were changed to Community Service Crews. At present, Camp Gabriels has 15 Community Service Crews servicing communities, institutions, and non-profit organizations within a 50-mile radius of this facility.

The mission of Camp Gabriels was to continue to maintain a secure environment while building and to foster positive programming for inmates, with cooperative service to the Community. Camp Gabriels was closed by New York State in 2009. It has been for sale by the state since then. Despite at least two announced auction dates, it has not sold.