San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

San Mateo County Places

Belmont- Ralston Hall

                       Gardner Sanitarium                     

On 18 Aug 1900, Dr. Alden Monroe Gardner, medical superintendent for the State Asylum for the Insane at Napa, purchased the Ralston estate in Belmont for $35,000 from the Union Trust Company of San Francisco. This was to be the home of the Gardner Sanitarium, the state’s 1st private mental sanitarium. (RD 87 #181)


 As advertised in the  California State Journal of Medicine in 1904, the sanitarium specialized in nervous disorders, including substance abuse and also served those recovering from serious illness.

 The Directory of Physicians and Surgeons in the State of California for 1908 includes a multi-page advertisement with variety of pictures of the facilities.  It is interesting to note that there are only 24 physicians listed for all of San Mateo County that year.  Of those nine had been in practice in California for less than ten years. The Gardner Sanitarium is the only medical institution listed in the county.  

The Report of the Commission of Lunacy v.6 (Sacramento: 1908 California Commission of Lunacy p106) - Gardner Sanitarium- Belmont stated that the minimum rate for care at the sanitarium wass $125 a month.  There were at that time 33 patients with a maximum bed count of 60.  Nurses did not wear uniforms, so patients would not stand out.  The 79 acre estate allowed patients to roam without interacting with the public.

Although Dr. Gardner died as a patient in his own sanitarium in 1913, his son  P.S. (Sherman) Gardner continued to run it until 1922. 

In 1923 the Ralston property was sold to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.  They had been looking to relocate their college from San Jose.  Today, ninety years later, Ralston Hall, mainly closed as funding is sought for seismic restoration is still a part of Notre Dame de Namur University.

Patients Playing Billiards - 1922

                              Ralston Hall                               

                                  Dr. Alden Gardner (1849 NY - 1913 CA)                         

                                           Some residents of Gardner Sanitorium                            

                                            San Mateo County Hospitals                                          

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