Molly Stark Sanitarium

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Molly Stark Sanitarium
Opened 1929
Closed 1995
Current Status Closed
Building Style Single Building
Location Louisville, OH



History[edit]

The need for the health facility had been felt ever since Stark County had sold its interest in the Springfield Lake tuberculosis hospital to Summit County. But, it took years after the withdraw from the Springfield Lake facility to make Molly Stark a reality. During that time, Stark County’s patients were scattered in other sanitariums throughout the state. An architect was hired. The original plans for a smaller facility grew to a hospital with 150 beds. Financing was obtained through a $750,000 bond issue that Stark County voters passed by “an overwhelming majority,” the newspaper reported.

When the money was assured, bids were let, and the location of the new facility was selected — “a well-adapted site several miles north of Louisville on the Canton-Alliance Road,” explained The Repository. “Of the entire tract, about 25 acres have been landscaped and planted in grass,” explained the newspaper in its article of introduction to the hospital. “A nursery where shrubbery and trees will be grown for transplanting on the landscaped area as needed, will be established at the rear of the property. Wide concrete walks and drives connect all of the buildings. To add to the beauty of the surroundings, all telephone and electric wires have been placed underground.” Those grounds surrounding the hospital were important because of the medical philosophy of most facilities that were constructed to treat tuberculosis at the time — the air and the light of the outdoors cured. “There are five buildings in the hospital group: the main hospital, children’s hospital, nurses home, superintendent’s residence and power plant,” the newspaper noted. “The Spanish style of architecture has been followed and the various units are so arranged as to give a most pleasing effect as viewed from the highway.”

The building itself was organized with an intention of employing psychology with sunshine in the treatment of the patients’ disease. Patients were to be made to feel as though they, if not earning their good health, were at least achieving it. They were lodged in the hospital according to the stage of their disease — and that lodging “improved” during treatment. “Bedridden cases are sent to the upper floor, and as improvement is noted, they are transferred one floor lower until they reach to first floor, which has been set aside for the ambulant or semi-ambulant cases.” Lowest-floor patients were allowed to roam the grounds surrounding Molly Stark Hospital. They bathed in the sunshine and celebrated their cure in that open space.

In later years with the decline of tuberculosis, the facility was converted for use as a nursing home. By the late 1970s funding from the state was cut-off and the hospital was turned over to Stark County to be used for offices. After the concern about asbestos was brought up, it was decided to leave the building entirely instead of paying the large amount for asbestos removal.