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Is There An Old Sanitarium In Odessa?

Is there an old Sanitarium in Odessa? No, but there was and this picture isn’t it. It’s a picture of a Spanish style commercially used building downtown that’s been rumored as being the sanitarium.

When I was in high school at Permian I heard there was an old boarded up building down on 2nd street that used to be the town’s insane asylum. If you’re from Odessa I’m sure you’ve heard the same rumor. I never thought there was any validity to it, only because asylums, state hospitals, sanitariums ect… we’re mostly found in the northern part of the country. Don’t get me wrong Texas had and still has some of these places dotted around the state but they’re found in areas with a higher population than ours. However, back in 1886 a town sanitarium was established by the Odessa Townsite Co.  The Odessa Medical and Surgical Sanitarium was ran by a former railroad physician from Indiana, Dr. R. E Haughton. That info can be found Here. It was a wooden 2 story structure with twenty rooms. It was only in operation for six years before it failed and the town decided to use the frame for the court house in 1891. Boring right? Maybe not, see the thing is if you go to look up information on the sanitarium what little you find is going to take a while to get to, and even then the information is conflicting. According to this site the building was established in 1887 and never used as a hospital of any kind, and it sites the Methodist church as the founders of the structure. Check that site out, there’s a sweet old picture of the place, actually, as far as I can tell the only picture of it. The site says the image was courtesy of the Ector County Library but when I called to get permission to use the picture here the director acted like the library had no knowledge of it.

Kinda creepy though right?
Kinda creepy though right?

So why the lack of info? Why the conflicting details in the little info there Is? I’m going to see how far Ector County death records go back and see if I can find anything weird going on from 1886 to 1890.  You do the same, let’s see what we come up with!

 

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