By Dan Tortorice
Friends of Lake View Hill Park
“The most beautiful and delightful spot that could possibly have been obtained.”
That is how its first medical director described the location of Lake View Sanatorium in what we know now as Lake View Hill Park. Our park is one of just three county park properties designated as an historical or cultural site. Therefore, one of the prime functions of the park is to celebrate and preserve the unique heritage of the sanatorium.
Dane County built a state-of-the art tuberculosis hospital on top of the hill in 1930. The cause of this massively destructive disease was known to be a strain of bacteria, but there was no treatment available to destroy it. So they built basically a “farm-hospital” to contain the disease while building up the health of patients so their own bodies could beat it back. Nearly every room of the 100-bed facility had close access to a sunny porch filled with fresh air and southern-exposure sunshine along with a great view. They created a large garden to grow fresh vegetables, they had a dairy for fresh milk and a slaughterhouse for meat. A pig farm to the north acted as an efficient “garbage disposal” to treat the large amount of waste generated by food production.
Another feature of the property, constructed to promote psychological health, was a waterfall and stream. The falls were located to the north of the current parking lot. The water traveled under the lot via buried pipe and then tumbled down the hill in a creek to Sputum Pond, located at the southeast part of the big lawn down near Northport Drive. The pond, which had a small bridge, was built in 1939 and got its ironic name from the humor of patients.
Preserving and celebrating the history of the sanatorium is a main mission of Friends of Lake View Hill Park. We will be holding our annual meeting on Saturday, Feb. 17, 10 am‒12 pm, in the main floor conference room of the Dane County Human Services Building, 1202 Northport Dr. We have made a lot of progress towards our goal of maintaining and improving the park. Please join us to help set priorities for the upcoming year.
We will be showing some very exciting photos of the hospital and its grounds taken by a woman who was a patient there from 1949 to 1950. Please bring along any photos you might have as well. We will also be displaying the new historical plaques that will go on the veranda celebrating the site of the Dormitory for Help.
We will provide some refreshments and can provide a short walking tour of park highlights, if anyone is interested, after we finish business.
Learn more about the park at lakeviewhill.org or find us on Facebook @lakeviewhill.