The City of Sanitariums
The city of Belmont would in the first half of the twentieth century become home to five sanitariums, institutions for the development of mental and/or physical health. The Gardner, California, Alexander, Nerve Rest and Twin Pines Sanitariums would be founded in the town, taking advantage of Belmont's sedate atmosphere and the nearby population growth in San Carlos.
The first such institution in Belmont, the Gardner Sanitarium was opened in 1901, for nervous disorders treatment. Next, deeming the Belmont climate and environment suitable for the patients, Doctors Harry C. Warren and Max Rothchild bought land in 1910 from Caesar R. Spilvalvo and built their California Sanitarium there. Splivalvo's land, adjacent to the Reid School, contained a house known as "Miramonte" which Warren and Rothchild used for their institution, a treatment center for pulmonary diseases. (In 1924, the Charls S. Howard Foundation used part of the estate as a "free preventorium for children with tubercular tendencies")
Envisioned by Mrs. Annette S. Alexander, property for the Alexander Sanitarium was purchased (across Ralston Avenue from the Garnder Sanitarium) in 1915, and the institution officially opened in 1924. It treated mental patients, using techniques that were at the time modern, and became quite popular. By 1948, the sanitarium could house seventy-five patients, and contained a swimming pool, bowling green, as well as tennis, croquet and badmitin courts. It remained standing until 1973, when it was closed and taken over by the Belmont Hills Psychiatric Center.
The Nerve Rest Sanitarium, the fourth in Belmont, begam its life in the home of Marquard Hansen, between Hill Street and Ralston Avenue. In 1918, the house was sold to Mrs. Maude Carrington Reed, who established the sanitarium. Soon after, the property was aquired by a Mrs. Tinker, who renamed it the Hillwell Sanitarium and turned it into an elderly home. More recently, it became the Buena Campbell Sanitarium, until it was demolished in the 1970s.
In August, 1925, the Twin Pines Sanitarium was officially founded on part of the old Janke picnic grounds, originally the George L. Center home. Incorporated with a capital of $75,000 by Doctor Norbert J. Gottbrath, the Twin Pines facility treated nervous disorders, as the Gardner Sanitarium had. In 1930, Doctor William Rebec took over the sanitarium and became a psychiatrist known nation-wide, and whose efforts resulted in California's Humane Commitment Act, which ensured that mental patients were treated well. After his death in 1941, Twin Pines was overseen by a board of his heirs, and in March, 1972, the facility closed its doors. In 1973, Twin Pines Park was established on the location, the sanitarium was determined by the city to be a historical landmark.
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