North east of Canton Ohio is a county park. It is unlike most county parks because in the middle is a large abandoned building surrounded by a chain link fence. It was built in 1929 as a tuberculosis hospital. The Molly Stark Sanatorium was built as a place for patients to recover in a beautiful and natural setting. The Spanish revival design had open verandas, passageways and balconies for people suffering from tuberculosis to benefit from the fresh air. The disease attacks the lungs, and in the 1800s, it was sometimes called consumption because it caused the patient to lose weight and destroyed the body and organs from within. There were few options for treatment at the turn of the century other than providing fresh air and a clean place to live.
Patients at the sanatorium were moved to the fourth floor, and as their symptoms improved they were moved down a floor. When their health improved enough, they were moved to the first floor where they could wander the grounds and gardens. By the 1950s, antibiotics had dramatically reduced the number of people suffering from tuberculosis and the building’s name changed to the Molly Stark Hospital. The building continued treating patients, but over time the facility became outdated. In 1995, the hospital closed because it was not cost effective to renovate the old building. A few investment companies looked at converting the building to a nursing home or retail space. but the cost of dealing with the asbestos was cost prohibitive.
In 2009, the county’s parks board of commissioners purchased the property for one dollar. With a two hundred thousand dollar grant, the grounds were cleaned up and a fence installed around the building, and the Molly Stark Park was created. People are welcome to walk the grounds and marvel at the old architecture through the fence. The building is closed to visitors and tours, but hopefully one day a use can be found for this historic structure.
If you are wondering, Molly Stark was the wife of Revolutionary War hero General John Stark, known for the famous quote “live free or die”. During the war, Molly turned her home into a makeshift hospital and nursed her husband’s troops during a smallpox epidemic and attended to the wounded.
Thank you for Subscribing to Lost In The States, If you have not subscribed yet, It would mean a lot to me if you did.