Original Text by Pat and Tom Willis
In 1901, Elizabeth Newcomb founded Stony Wold Sanatorium on 1800 acres of a hillside overlooking Lake Kushaqua, just north of Brighton in the Town of Franklin. Her idea was to create a charitable sanatorium for the treatment of underprivileged young women suffering from TB. She was encouraged by her husband, Dr. James Edward Newcomb and by Dr. E.L. Trudeau, and received support from many prominent people of New York City as well as from AT&T, DuPont, Gould, Biggs, Potter, Pond, Morgan, and Rockefeller.
George Dodge supervised the construction of the sanatorium and chapel, which was designed by J. Lawrence Aspinwall, junior partner in the New York architectural firm of James Renwick. Saranac Lake architect William L. Coulter, the on-site supervising architect for Aspinwall, undoubtedly worked closely with Mr. Dodge.
At its peak in the 1930s Stony Wold consisted of twenty buildings and a farm, and generated its own electricity. There were more than 150 patients attended by two doctors, many nurses, and a dietitian— in all, a staff of seventy. Over the years, six thousand patients were treated, mostly women and some men and children. They had the convenience of getting to Stony Wold by train, from a station on the Adirondack Division of the New York Central Railroad. Patients benefited from the beautiful setting and the respectful and friendly encouragement of the staff. Many people from the area were employed there and enjoyed the Sans social events as well.
Elizabeth Newcomb herself succumbed to TB in 1938 and was buried between Stony Wold Hall and the lake, at her request, where she “could look out over the waters of the quiet lake” Kushaqua— Algonquin for “beautiful resting place.”
Stony Wold closed in 1955 with the advent of new drugs and was sold to the White Fathers Catholic Order, missionaries to Africa. It then became St. Joseph’s Seminary until 1972. By 1974 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation became owner of most of the property and the buildings were torn down. Stony Wold Hall and two cottages remain, now (2002) in private ownership.
Frederick J. Seaver, Historical Sketches of Franklin County, Albany, NY: J. B. Lyon Co., 1918, Chapter XVI, Franklin
The name chosen for the institution was Stony Wold Sanatorium. The date of incorporation was April 10, 1901, and eight months later property consisting of twelve hundred and fifty acres, situate near Lake Kushaqua, in the town of Franklin, and having an elevation of over seventeen hundred feet above sea level, was purchased. Building operations were begun as soon afterward as practicable, and the institution was formally opened August 15, 1903. Where there had been only an unbroken forest there have risen an administrative building with dormitory adjoining; Stony Wold Hall, a building for purposes of worship and for entertainments; a dormitory for the help; a woodworking shop; a store and post-office; five rest shacks; one industrial settlement house; seven cottages; a power house for generating electricity for lighting the institution; an outdoor school; and a model cow barn, stable and piggery. A farm has also been developed. The administration building alone cost eighty-four thousand dollars, and the entire property is valued at $302,435.16, and is not mortgaged. The institution has, besides, an endowment fund of $64,258.75.
The corporation has fifteen auxiliaries with a total membership of nineteen hundred. In the beginning each auxiliary contributed six hundred dollars to build and equip a room, and pledged itself to support thereafter an occupant, the charge for which is fourteen dollars per week. Further funds for building, equipment and maintenance were realized from subscriptions, and also considerable amounts from fairs and entertainments given at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and other places in New York and at the institution itself.
Mrs. James Edward Newcomb is the president of the board of trustees, and has served in that capacity from the beginning. She was the originator of the enterprise, and devised the plan of organization. She spends a good deal of time at Lake Kushaqua, and is constant and untiring in effort on its behalf.
Stony Wold has a capacity for twenty children and ninety-three adults and is practically always full. No children under the age of six years are admitted. The staff includes the physician in charge (who is at present Dr. Malcolm D. Lent), an assistant physician (Dr. W. G. Milan), a number of nurses, a dietician, a storekeeper, an outside superintendent (Albert E. Paye), and other workers averaging between ninety and one hundred in number.
Stony Wold Hall is used by the Episcopalian, the Catholic and the Jewish denominations, though none of them has a resident preacher. The Episcopalians and the Jews use one room in common, and the Catholics have a part of the structure separately. When the hall is wanted for a card party or for a dance, the seats are removed, and a room nicely adapted to the purpose is available.
The institution is doing a magnificent work, and hundreds who have enjoyed care in it, gaining strength and vigor, and enabled to return to life's duties and labors with new hope and courage, bless daily the philanthropists who have given so fine an institution to the world, and who cause it to be managed with such care and loving kindness.
The New York Times, August 23, 1903
HAPPENINGS OF THE WEEK AT ADIRONDACK RESORTS
Special to The New York Times.
PAUL SMITH'S, N. Y., Aug. 22.—Many people have closed their houses at Lenox, Southampton and Newport and come to the Adirondacks for the various house parties and functions, that are occupying attention at this time.
Dr. and Mrs. James Edward Newcomb are much engrossed in the affairs of Stony Wold Sanitarium at Lake Kushaqua, fifteen miles from Paul Smith's, which was opened on Saturday, and where about a dozen patients are now cared for. Bishop and Mrs. Potter, who have a Summer place at Hawk Island in Lake Placid, were also much interested in Stony Wold Sanitarium, where the Bishop delivered an address, and the Bishop also consecrated the new church at Newman, a suburb of Lake Placid, on Sunday. Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Gould and Mrs. Gould's mother, Mrs. George F. Shrady, were at Loon Lake a few days ago and attended the opening of Stony Wold, after which they visited Paul Smith's, returning to Saratoga on Monday. Mr. and Mrs. Anson R. Flower, who are entertaining Mrs. John D. Flower and Miss Flower, at their cottage at Paul Smith's, drive to Lake Kushaqua nearly every day in the interests of the institution. Among others who have come into the mountains and are taking active interest in Stony Wold are: Mrs. John Caldwell Coleman, Miss Edith Brander Matthews, Mr. and Mrs. Sylvan Bier, John Alvin Long, Dr. and Mrs. Herman M. Biggs, Dr. Alfred Myer, Dr. Knopf, Mrs. Fitch, James Swinburne, Mrs. Albert V. Huyler, Miss Doane, Mrs. Frederick Hasbrouck, Miss Utley, Mrs. Pure L. Bouchet, Miss Bouchet, Mrs. G. W. Van Vredenburgh. Lady Swettenhan, Henry Siegel, Homer Folks and H. T. Devine...
Malone Palladium, December 10, 1908
In an effort to solve the problem of furnishing suitable work for patients, recovering from tuberculosis, Stony Wold Sanatorium at Lake Kushaqua, will soon start an industrial settlement or farm colony. The settlement will consist of discharged persons well enough to do light work, such as flower culture, poultry raising, light gardening, etc. Members of the patient's family can find employment at the sanatorium. This plan places the responsibility of the care of the ex patient where it rightfully belongs, that is, upon their own families. The sanatorium is in hope of teaching practical forestry. A small beginning has already been made, in the Adirondacks pine, spruce and balsam seedlings can be raised, and the demand is much greater than the supply. It is also proposed to start a Willow Holt to furnish material for basketry. This is a profitable occupation.
The Guild News, February 26, 1943
Guild Resumes Stony Wold Classes; Torpedoed Norsemen Study English
A special appeal to the War Rationing Board from Dr. Wayne Henning, medical director of Stony Wold Sanatorium, and officials of the Saranac Lake Study and Craft Guild has led to the resumption of Guild classes at Lake Kushaqua. A supplemental gasoline ration for transportation of the teachers was issued last week.
On Friday, February 19, the first contingent of teachers was driven over the eighteen miles of snow-packed roads from Saranac Lake to Stony Wold. The trips will be made each Friday evening for the balance of the winter term which ends on March 26 and presumably during the Spring term beginning April 12.
On the opening night twenty-two students were registered for classes in Spanish, Russian, and Americanization English. It is expected that weaving and drawing will be added to the available subjects in the near future.
Among the students is a group of Norwegians who are studying English. They are all merchant seamen who were torpedoed while serving the United Nations. they are the particular concern of the Social Welfare Committee for Norwegian Seamen in New York City. The Guild is offering instruction to them at the request of the committee.
The names of the teachers and students at Stony Wold follow:
Spanish, taught by Alfredo Gonzalez: Mrs. Lowell Decker, Edna Herman, Florence Kerr, Jane Larson, Marion LeJeune, Dr. T. B. Merner, Anne Moscatello, Lucille Pardee, Carmen Wightman.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, September 17, 1948
Appeal Campaign For Stony Wold Opened in Area
LAKE KUSHAQUA, Sept. 17 —
The second year of the appeal letter for funds for Stony Wold in the Adirondacks has now started with illustrated folders and letters on their way to Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and other communities surrounding the sanatorium.
The object of the appeal is to acquaint .as many persons as possible with Stony Wold's service, as well as to secure voluntary contributions to carry on its work.
Last year 169 patients of all races, colors and creeds were cared for at this non-profit Sanatorium. Of these, 20% were treated absolutely free and another 23% paid much less than the actual cost of their care. All enjoyed the benefits of rest and relaxation in the clean air and sunlight at Lake Kushaqua.
In addition to rest, over 5,000 special treatments were given by the staff, including almost 3,000 streptomycin injections and 884, pneumothorax refills. 87% of the patients who were discharged from the sanatorium were improved, quiescent, or apparently arrested cases.
New York State registered more than 13,000 cases of tuberculosis last year. Among Franklin County residents, there were 50 cases reported. The death rate in New York State last year was slightly higher than the national average. This was attributed by some tuberculosis authorities in New York to the fact that a sizable population group is particularly susceptible to tuberculosis and lives under unfavorable economic conditions.
Sanatorium care, as everyone in our north country knows, offers the strict supervision of caring that all tuberculosis patients should have to get well. Complicating conditions are detected by doctors on the medical staff. Sanatorium care removes the fear and danger of infection from other members of families and from the general public.
The directors of Stony Wold Sanatorium hope that all who can will give generously toward this charity.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 2, 1958
Stony Wold San Sale Contract Accepted
White Fathers Plan to Train Missionaries at Famous Institution
State Supreme Court, Church Authorities Must Approve Sale Contract
A contract for sale of Stony Wold Sanatorium on Lake Kushaqua to the White Fathers, a Catholic order which carries on missionary work in Africa, was accepted yesterday afternoon by the majority of the Stony Wold board of directors meeting in New York City.
The sale must be approved by the Supreme Court of New York and by Catholic Church authorities. The contract for the sale, together with a written bid from at least one other institution, will be submitted to the court.
The Rev. J. Alfred Richard, American Provincial Officer of the White Fathers, said that the order has wanted the famous sanatorium for "theoretical and technical training" of young men 18 years of age and older, who will then serve as missionaries.
There are 3100 White Fathers, he said, and their training period is nine years. There are also 1200 White Sisters. The order serves in 577 missionary stations covering two million square miles of the African continent.
Father Richard said there would be recruiting for the Stony Wold program and Tie did not yet know how many young men would train there. He said a summer camp for might also be operated on the property.
Negotiations for Stony Wold have been going on for some time. New York State has shown an interest in the facility. A couple of years ago it was believed that it would be used for care of cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis patients. Mrs. Hoyt Joyce, president, worked hard on these programs but adequate financial support was not available.
Stony Wold was established in 1901 for the treatment of pulmonary ailments. It continued in operation until 1956. It has one large building and 20 other buildings varying in size from the 17-room nurses' home to one and two family staff dwellings.
There were accommodations for over 150 patients and 70 staff members.
The Stony Wold property covers 1800 acres and includes most of Lake Kushaqua, which is a mile and a half long. Stony Wold is 17 miles north of Saranac Lake.
Stony Wold was founded by Mrs. James Edward Newcomb, who for a number of years had a summer home on Lake Kushaqua. She was particularly interested in helping working girls suffering with tuberculosis and interested the Gould, Potter and Morgan families, and the American Telephone and Telegraph Co., and the E.I. DuPont de Nemours Co. in supporting her program.
Over 6,000 men, women and children were treated at Stony Wold. Meanwhile in New York City out-patient clinics have been maintained by the Stony Wold Foundation. These will continue in operation.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, February 17, 1959
White Fathers Plans For Stony Wold Set
Work to Start in April; Dedication for "Camp Lavigerie" June 14
Plans for moving the college seminary of the Society of Missionaries of Africa, White Fathers, to the newly-acquired property near Saranac Lake have been completed, the Very Rev. J. Alfred Richard, White Fathers provincial in the United States, announced this week.
In December, the White Fathers purchased. the property of the famed Stony Wold Sanatorium, which they will open for retreats and a junior boys camp, as well as the seminary.
Members of the society will arrive at Stony Wold early in April to begin plans for the move. The dedication has been set for June 14 and the camp, which is to be known as Camp Lavigerie, named for the founder of the White Fathers, will open on June 29. A camp director has been secured and a White Father will serve as chaplain.
The college is being named St. Joseph's Seminary and classes will start in the fall.
The seminary ,which offers a four-year college course for prospective priests and also houses the postulate for brothers, is now located at Franklin, Pa., and is filled to capacity. The acquisition of the Adirondack Mountain resort makes it possible for extensive expansion without launching a building program, Father Richard points out.
The society's novitiate, presently located at Alexandria Bay, N.Y., will be moved to Franklin, Pa., at the beginning of the new term in August. The house at the Bay is also overcrowded and the more spacious Pennsylvania property is expected to be sufficient for the novitiate, since this spiritual training program is only one year for priests and two years for brothers.
The seminary at Stony Wold will be the only one conducted by the White Fathers in this country and all young men from throughout the province who begin their college studies under the Fathers will train there. Rev. J. Donald Murphy, formerly of Halifax, Nova Scotia, who spent several years as a missionary in Uganda will be superior at St. Joseph's. Rev. Anthony Coolen, who has been novice master since the White Fathers novitiate was opened in this country and is well known in the Alexandria Bay area will move to Franklin.
The White Fathers' society is international in scope with provinces throughout much of Western Europe, the United States and Canada. Dedicated exclusively to work in Africa, they operate a total of 615 missions throughout the continent. They are popularly known as the White Fathers, a name adapted from their white habit, a white cassock and hooded cape, identical to the dress of the North Africans. The only distinction is the black and white wooden rosary which the priests wear looped around their neck.
The society was started in 1868 and the United States province was formed in 1948: "The provincial house is located in Washington, D.C., and there are houses in Chicago. Los Angeles and Metuchen, N.J., as well as the New York and Pennsylvania properties. The White Fathers also erected the national shrine of Our Lady of Africa located at Franklin, Pa., for the purpose of increasing devotion for Africa; many of their outstanding films on the African missions are available through the African Film Foundation, and they publish their own magazine, "White Fathers Missions."
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 15, 1962
White Fathers of Africa Study at Onchiota Seminary
BY HOWARD RILEY
…The White Fathers this summer will have family camping facilities on Lake Kushaqua with 30 unit accommodations. Retreats for priests of the Ogdensburg Diocese are conducted in the summer as well as retreats for lay people.
Nineteen buildings in use now (heated) include the chapel, dormitory wing, administration building and classrooms. The operating rooms and X-ray department have been renovated into private rooms, some of the work being accomplished by the students themselves. New construction included an administration building and 9 cottages on the shores of Lake Kushaqua for family camping.
Stony Wold was founded by Mrs. James Newcomb, incorporated in 1901 and treated more than 6,000 people before scientific advances in use of tuberculosis drugs and increased home care treatment caused Stony Wold to close its doors in December 1955.
However, behind the statistical record is a heart-warming story of the dedication of Mrs. Newcomb in founding the hospital. Interest stemmed from her work as director of the Working Girls Vacation Society (now the Katharine Herbert Fund) when she realized the great need for a tubercular sanatorium for women.
Mrs. Newcomb, encouraged by Dr. Edward Trudeau and her husband Dr. Newcomb, bought property on Lake Kushaqua, and spent a winter there in her summer camp to establish "squatter's rights".
Friends of Mrs. Newcomb's banded into auxiliaries in New York City (18 in number) and came to her aid as the principal support of the sanatorium in the beginning. With the continued help from these auxiliaries and the generosity of the American Tel. & Tel. Company, E. I. duPont de Nemours, Gould, Biggs, Pond, Potter, Morgan and Rockefeller Stony Wold grew and reached its peak in the 30s with a 150-bed san and 1800 acres of property.
There are many people living here in the Adirondacks who were employed at Stony Wold. People who remember the dances, romances and parties that were part of their younger life as employees of Stony Wold when the hospital meant as much to the people who worked there as it did to those who cured there. So in this sense Stony Wold made a two-fold contribution to humanity through its founder. Mrs. Newcomb.
We will look forward to the growth of St. Joseph's Seminary in the years ahead, from its present 30 students to fill its 200capacity facilities.
|Miss Vivian Jensen||2/19/1911|
|Other Norwegian Seamen at Stony Wold (from Donation List, below)|
|Johann Martin Anstensen|
|Oscar George Olsen|
1. The Social Welfare Committee's "Gift Fund Committee" at its meeting yesterday decided to request our doctors to confer with Dr. Henning about the possibilities of having sister Helga be given more time so she may be able to work more closely with the Norwegian patients at Stony Wold and in Saranac Lake. To make it possible for her to do so, the committee decided to pay all her expenses for taxi or other means of transportation to Saranac Lake for visits to the patients in the 4 cottages there.
2. In addition, the committee decided to let her administer $25.00 which is to be used to buy birthday gifts for each of the patients, to arrange small parties, and otherwise to make it as pleasant as possible on important occasions.
3. For Christmas this year, it was suggested that Dr. Henning be requested to investigate the possibilities of having all the Norwegian patients at Saranac Lake, and at Stony Wold together for a Christmas Eve Party to enjoy a Norwegian Christmas with Norwegian food and other Norwegian delicacies such as "Sylteflesk, rullepølse, Lutefisk, Skinkestek, Risengrynsgrøt, Fattigmans bakkelse" and other Norwegian Christmas dishes.
The committee agreed to donate the sum of $100.— for the expenses of such a party. Nurse Helga to be requested to discuss the matter with dr. Henning and report at once his reaction to this. Much of the food can be bought in New York City and it is important that this committee be given an idea how many will be allowed for health reasons to be at such a party, and how many will be allowed to eat the various foods after sister Helga has explained to the doctor what each type of food is made from. In regards to making the lutefisk, risengrynsgrøt and ribbestek, it is possible that one of the men who at the present time is a patient at Stony Wold might be a stuart or cook, and therefore may be able to supervise the cooking.
4. Nurse Helga is requested to at all times send in a written reports on her trips to Saranac Lake and keep an account of all her expenses. Bills to be submitted each month. When the $25.00 fund is used up, another decision of the committee is necessary to replenish this fund.
5. Nurse Helga is also requested to inform the committee what kind of gift packages arrive, and to distribute these after conference with Dr. Henning as to actual need of each patient. She is also requested to take care of all distribution of Christmas gifts, and if there should be a shortage, inform the committee so that it can be remedied.
6. A brief discussion regarding the work of the Saranac Lake Study and Craft Guild followed. It was decided to await the report from Mr. Stearns, before final decision as to payment of materials and books for the patients who are allowed to the courses suggested in their catalogue. It was, however, felt that each individual case has to be submitted to Dr. Henning for final OK for any type of courses or time to be used for classes either in bed or otherwise.
7. In regards to purchases of underwear etc. for the patients it was agreed that each patient should have his or her need fulfilled, but that in regard to coats and other outerwear each of these purchases must be checked with Dr. Henning as to time when the patients will be allowed outside. Nurse Helga to cheek on actual need for such outerwear, and submit her recommendation. Each patient will now be given 2 sets of pyjamas, 2 sets of underwear, and 3 pairs of socks, unless they already have received it.
All purchases shall as much as possible be made at the Stony Wold store. Nurse Helga to be requested to make the purchases in that store for the patients in Saranac Lake, or at stores in Saranac Lake provided prices are compareable to those at Stony Wold. The prices submitted by the Stony Wold store are as follows, with an addition of 10% for handling charges.
|Pyjamas from||$16.00 to 18.50 pr. dozen|
|Underwear||$10.00 to $18.50|
|Socks||$3.00 pr. dozen|
|Shirts||$12.00 to 15.00 "|
|Bathrobes||no price given.|
In regards to coats and suits, all of those will be bought in New York City after measures have been taken and samples chosen by each patient who is recommended to receive such outerwear. A measuring chart is enclosed. These to be sent to our office for placing of the order after checking and OK given by Dr. Henning.
All other purchases for shoes, slippers etc. also to be made at the Stony Wold store, or at a store in Saranac Lake provided it does not exceed the following prices for each item as follows:
|Shoes . . . . .||$4.50|
|Arctics . . . .||$3.50 to 4.00|
|Machinaws .||$7.50 or less|
|Single pants||$4.50 to 5.00 or less|
|Slippers . .||$1.50 to 2.00 or less|
Many of the items the patients have asked for will be decided shortly, but it is felt that the purchase of pyjamas, underwear and socks can be taken care of at once.
All bills shall be submitted to this office at once and check will be made out to the store at Stony Wold or local store in Saranac Lake. It is hoped that Dr. Henning may OK a requisition for such purchases so as to prevent the stores from going through the regular channels of investigation our credit etc. and thereby delaying purchases and deliveries.
For the: SOCIAL WELFARE COMMITTEE'S "GIFT FUND"
Excerpt from an undated report written for the Sisters of Mercy by Sr. Agnes Martin: 1
Following the Great Depression, Sanatorium Gabriels was experiencing not only financial problems, but also a lack of patients. However, God again showed his interest in the Sisters' work. In the early 1940's, during World War II, a Norwegian ship was torpedoed and sunk. Many men lost their lives, but a number of sailors were rescued. Through their exposure to the sea and elements, it was found that many of these rescued men had developed TB. For some reason, the Norwegian Government could not bring them back to Norway, so made arrangements for their care at Stony Wold Sanatorium, a few miles from Gabriels. These patients, perhaps because of loneliness and lack of communication due to the language barrier, became a problem to Stony Wold due to their drinking and carousing. The Norwegian Officials were at a loss what to do about it, until it was suggested to them to ask the Sisters at Gabriels to take care of them. The Sisters immediately accepted. It was not long before the Sister Nurse in charge had them well under control, and these men had the greatest respect and love for her, as well as all the Sisters. They remained at Gabriels until the end of the war when they returned to their own country. The income derived from their care kept Gabriels going.
- 1920's Stony Wold Promotional Movie on Internet Archive Site - Healing of the Hills "The Happy, Home-Like Way"
See also:Memories of Stony Wold Sanatorium on Lake Kushaqua by Sherwood Davies
Buck,Thelma. “Stony Wold” in They Told Me So, Vol. II, 1987.
Seaver, Frederick. Historical Sketches of Franklin County, 1918.
James Woods, Paul Smith’s College, 1980.
Brighton History Days have been held one weekend each summer since 1994, sponsored by the Brighton Architectural Heritage Committee.
1. This was sent from Millie Williams of the Uihlein Mercy Center to Natalie Leduc on November 2, 2006.