Southern California Sanitarium for Nervous Diseases

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Southern California Sanitarium for Nervous Diseases
Construction Began 1902
Opened 1904
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Architect(s) Hunt & Grey
Location Pasadena, CA
Alternate Names
  • Las Encinas Hospital for Nervous Disorders


In 1904 when Dr. James H. McBride established his new sanitarium the City of Pasadena was experiencing a boom in development that nearly tripled its population by the end of that decade. The land boom of the 1880s spurred on by the completion of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and the promotion of the City as a haven for tourists and seekers of cures for tuberculosis and other diseases set the stage for Dr. McBride’s endeavor. After graduating from Bellevue Hospital College in 1873 and establishing the Milwaukee Sanitarium for Nervous Disorders in 1884, Dr. McBride moved from Wisconsin to Pasadena in 1886. Once in the City, he set up his medical practice at the home he purchased on Hermosa Vista (now in South Pasadena).

In 1904, two years after purchasing 29 acres of the Sunny Slope Ranch for $27,000, he and four other prominent doctors, Norman Bridge, Henry Brainerd, Wallace Barlow, and Merritt Campbell, formed the Southern California Sanitarium for Nervous Disorders. Dr.McBride’s parcel was bounded by Blanche, on the north, Monte Vista on the east, and Rose Avenue on the west. The sanitarium was incorporated on February 1, 1904, and subsequently, Dr.McBride hired the firm of Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey to design the first building of the facility. In 1917, the name of the hospital was changed to the Las Encinas Hospital for Nervous Disorders.

Before Marion Barlow died in 1964, after living out her years on the grounds of the old Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, the sanitarium began to fade. Medical science gained the upper hand in the fight against TB, rendering the Barlow approach of sunshine and rest passe. As the cottages drifted into a quaint backdrop, the sanitarium became Barlow Respiratory Hospital and added buildings, including a small acute-care facility. It also expanded its focus to lung disorders of various kinds. For a time, part of the facility was used as an AIDS hospice.[1]