Jackson Sanitarium was originally built in 1854 by Nathaniel Bingham to take advantage of the renowned healing waters of the village. His health made him bow out of the project, and it fell through and failed in various hands until Dr. James Caleb Jackson, a life long advocate of hydropathy, took over. Renamed "Our Home on the Hillside," Dr. Jackson also encouraged his patients to eat properly in addition to water treatments. No red meat, sugar, coffee, tea, alcohol, or tobacco were permitted at Our Home on the Hillside; instead, the emphasis was on fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed grain - serving patients Granula. The world's first breakfast cereal was comprised of dense bran nuggets that had to be soaked overnight in order to be chewable. For several decades the manufacture and sale of Granula was a lucrative sideline. Three degrees of separation: Ellen G White visits Jackson Sanitarium - Creates the Seventh Day Adventist religion - John Kellogg was a member of the church.

"John Kellogg was devoted to creating healthy food items for his patients. In 1887, he developed a biscuit made of oats, wheat and corn meal. He called a ground-up version of this biscuit Granula. Word of the great new food item quickly spread. When it reached Dr. Jackson, he considered his own Granula and sued his colleague for infringement on his brand name. A settlement was reached and the name was changed to granola, with an O." (http://www.mrbreakfast.com/article.asp?articleid=13)


After the Civil War, wealthy people came from miles around to bathe in the medicinal waters that promised to revive their spirits and their health. Our Home on the Hillside was a popular site on the lecture circuit; Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Horace Greeley all spoke at the site. Topping the list was Clara Barton, who returned in 1876, physically exhausted from years of non-stop travel and work, to recuperate at Our Home.


By the end of the 1870's, the aging James Caleb Jackson (who died in 1895) turned over his duties at Our Home on the Hillside to his son and daughter-in-law; Drs. James H. and Kate J. Jackson. In June 1882, a fire completely destroyed the main building of Our Home, causing much fear that the water cure was history. However, in October 1883 the Jacksons opened their new, larger, fireproof brick facility, the Jackson Sanatorium. The water cure thrived for several more decades, but Jackson Health Resort declared bankruptcy in 1914. For a short time after World War I, the Army used the building as a psychiatric hospital for veterans, after which a number of largely unsuccessful attempts were made to re-establish the health resort. -(http://dansville.lib.ny.us/historyo.html#castle)


In 1929 Bernarr MacFadden purchased Jackson Sanitarium, refurbished and converted it into a resort hotel, renaming it the Physical Culture Hotel. The hotel offered a number of health therapies but also emphasized recreation and social activities such as swimming, sunbathing, tennis, and dancing. It offered top quality accomodations in every way and was "the place" for celebrities and the wealthy to visit to relax and "get away from it all." Under Macfadden's ownership, the Physical Culture Hotel regained much of its former renown. (http://www.bernarrmacfadden.com/macfadden1.html)


After Macfadden's death in 1955, the hotel was acquired by New York City hotelier William Fromcheck, and operated as "Bernarr Macfadden's Castle on the Hill". But once again, a decline in popularity set in, and this time it was irreversible. The end came in 1971, when the doors of the health spa closed for the last time.



Unexpectedly (because I was not aware anyone was trying to save it) in January 2008, the Sanitarium was awarded $2.5 million from the state for restoration. The funds will be used to rehabilitate the interior of the building, renovate the exterior and reinstate public utilities to the property making it available for planned development. I can't find any information about any specific group taking over the project, or what the plans may be. *editorial note* It's going to take far more than $2.5 million to help that place...I can't believe it's even structurally sound. But hey good for them...*/end*


*edit* On 10-7-09 I received an email from the great-great-great grandson of James Caleb Jackson (how cool is that?!), who pointed out that the building was never a "sanitarium" as I call it above, but a "sanatorium" as the advertisement shows. I was not aware of the difference, now I know, and just wanted to point that out at his request. :)


historic images