The White Elephant
Photo © Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Henryton State Hospital
Located in Marriottsville, MD
- Also Known As:Maryland Tuberculosis Sanatorium (Colored Branch), Henryton State Hospital Center, Henryton Tuberculosis Sanatorium
- Location Genre:State School / Developmental Center, Sanatorium / Isolation Hospital
- Age:92 years
- Demo / Renovated:2013
- Decaying for:28 years
- Last Known Status:Demolished
The Henryton Tuberculosis Sanatorium was constructed in 1922 to treat African Americans stricken with the disease. The 30-acre site was originally known as the "Colored Branch" of the The Maryland Tuberculosis Sanitarium before becoming known by its more familiar name, Henryton. Opened in 1923, it was the first public TB hospital for blacks in the state, although early public sanatoriums for whites were started back in 1908. The hillside on which the hospital sits was chosen for the advantageous southern slope - it would catch westerly breezes for fresh air treatments, protected the buildings from cold northern winds, and provided a gravitational delivery system for water and steam from the boiler house.
The facility originally consisted of six buildings and a power plant, but the rapidly increasing rate of TB patients being admitted led to the need for additional structures. In 1938, funds were given for the construction of larger treatment buildings; they would increase the capacity of the hospital from 120 to nearly 500 patients. However by the time construction was completed in 1946, the rate of the disease had dropped significantly, leaving much of the new buildings as unused space.
In 1963 the hospital was converted for use as a developmental center, housing profoundly mentally disabled adults ages 18 and up. Admissions were overseen by the Mental Retardation Administration, and the rehabilitation program at Henryton proved to be successful in returning many residents to their communities and workplaces. Henryton also provided respite care by special request.
As deinstitutionalization took hold in the United States in the 1970s, the resident population at Henryton dwindled. By 1985, the 100 patients at the center were moved out and the campus was shuttered. It has since been heavily vandalized, most notably in a December 2007 fire that destroyed the theater and cafeteria. The hospital was fully razed in September 2013.