St. Albans Sanitarium

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St. Albans Sanitarium
Established 1892
Opened 1916 (mental health facility)
Closed 1994
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Single Building
Location Radford, VA
Alternate Names
  • St Albans Lutheran Boys School


With $500 of his own money, Dr. John C. King, formed a corporation and with $16,000 in borrowed funds he acquired the Saint Albans buildings along with 56 acres of land. The buildings were thoroughly renovated and, on January 15, 1916, the first four patients were admitted.

In the tradition of other treatment facilities of the time, St. Albans Sanatorium included a farm which, according to an old brochure, “[…] affords ample space for out-of-door games, diversional exercises and employment, also vegetable and flower gardens, an adequate dairy herd and extensive poultry-raising, all of which are interesting and helpful to the patients.”

St. Albans Sanatorium struggled initially with financial problems. However, Dr. King and his wife kept the hospital open and gradually expanded its services and reputation. The building of the Radford Arsenal and the rapid population growth associated with it had a profound impact on St. Albans. Patient numbers rose and, since it was the only hospital in the community at the time, it also provided general medical care.

To accommodate all these patients, the staff worked six days a week while living in quarters provided by the hospital. By 1945, the total number of patients treated during its first 29 years was 6509 and its staff numbered 48. The hospital continued to grow in the following decades. St. Albans became a fully recognized hospital in 1960, and started opening outpatient clinics in Roanoke, Blacksburg, and Beckley, WV. In 1980, in order to stay up-to-date with advancing technology, parts of St. Albans were relocated into a more modern $8 million facility. In the late 1980s, the institution on the New River was the Commonwealth’s only private, full service, not-for-profit psychiatric hospital. It was a source of pride for many people living in Radford and Pulaski County.

The glory days of the old St. Albans were, however, almost over. In the 1990s, the hospital became part of the Carilion Health System, which moved ahead with plans to relocate it to another site, eventually building the “New River Medical Center” at its current location off of Interstate 81. The old buildings and the surrounding 78 acres became a gift from Carilion to the Radford University Foundation in 2004. The demolition of the 1890s structure was halted in December 2007, and a group of concerned citizens from around the New River Valley was about to begin a proper historical review as mandated by the federal government. Today the hospital is open for tours.