Molly Stark Sanitarium
About a 5-minute drive from my house sits a beautiful old structure rich in History and haunting’s, at least stories of haunting’s, The old Molly Stark Hospital Sanitarium.
On August 23, 1929, Molly Stark Sanatorium opened its doors to the public, providing care to residents of Stark County suffering from tuberculosis. Named in honor of the wife of General John Stark, for whom Stark County is named, Molly Stark was built under the prevailing medical philosophy of the time that sunlight and fresh air were good for patients in need of compassionate care. Molly Stark stood as one of 25 tuberculosis hospitals in the State of Ohio.
There are five buildings in the hospital group: the main hospital, children’s hospital, nurses home, superintendent’s residence and power plant. 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 entire landscape surrounding the original five buildings on site was designed to provide a therapeutic and restful environment for those undergoing treatment and recovery at Molly Stark.
The building itself was organized with the 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, we’re 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 the 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.
As medical science had allowed for great advances in identifying and treating tuberculosis, the need for Molly Stark to operate solely as a tuberculosis facility diminished. In 1956, the name changed from Molly Stark Sanatorium to Molly Stark Hospital, as the county-run hospital began the treatment of medical cases other than tuberculosis. The hospital continued operating until 1995, when due to ageing infrastructure and a diminished need the doors of Molly Stark were shuttered. The building still sits abandoned, left alone but not forgotten. April of 2009 brought a new life to the old Molly Stark property. Purchased from the Stark County Commissioners for the sum of one dollar, Stark Parks opened the new Molly Stark Park as a publicly accessibly county park on the former hospital site. There are many break-ins at the Hospital, and even a fire at one point in time.
Molly Stark showcases Spanish Revival style of architecture popular throughout the United States between 1915 and 1930. The many windows, vaulted porticos, recessed balconies, and rooftop verandas provided the institution’s tuberculosis patients with ample access to both the fresh air and sunshine abundant in the rural farmlands of Nimishillen Township, just outside the city limits of Louisville. The Sheriff and Park Rangers keep this place locked down, for the most part, I was told even Rangers are not allowed in the facility due to a large amount of airborne asbestos, which is a shame because this place would be great to explore and photograph, but instead, it sits empty.
Thanks for stopping