Driving along country lanes, one might happen upon a road with a somewhat cryptic name. Sanatorium Road stretches up a mountain and leads to the abandoned Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital.
In 1907, New Jersey opened its only state owned and operated tuberculosis sanatorium in Glen Gardner. It was intended to be a model institution, providing individual and public health benefits to an expected 500 cases annually. Ahead of its time in terms of treatment methods, the facility treated more than 10,000 people between 1907 and 1929.
When the sanatorium opened, the original plan was that only “incipients” or “curables” would be treated. By the 1920s, the sanatorium’s mission had been broadened to incorporate treatment of all cases, regardless of severity. The sanatorium’s treatment methods remained relatively unchanged until the middle of the 20th century, when newer and more innovative medicines began to be developed. In 1950, the sanatorium broadened its scope of treatments once more, this time to include all chest diseases. The hospital was closed down in the late 1970s, and was left to fall apart.
In 1977, the Senator Garret W. Hagedorn Gero-Psychiatric Hospital, or “Hagedorn,” was built right next to where the abandoned tuberculosis center-turned-hospital site lay. Hagedorn, which was really an extension of the hospital that was rotting next to it with a new name, focused on its new calling as a state nursing home and, eventually, a 288-bed psychiatric hospital for seniors.
In 2012, Hagedorn was shut down by the state and left abandoned, just like its neighbor and predecessor. Now, both hulking structures are left to decay, standing side by side as the elements slowly take their toll.
Know Before You Go
You will be charged with trespassing if caught on the property. This is state-owned land and the law is enforced. Signs posted at the entrances promise that the grounds are under 24-hour video surveillance. Don't drive past any signs or barricades posted at the entrances. When the newer hospital building was still open, up until 2012, one could presumably get a good peek at the front of the original sanatorium. Now, neither building can be viewed from the front. Instead, follow Sanatorium Road up past the entrances to the right where you'll reach a state-operated facility for veterans. From this elevated vantage point, you can see the rear side of the original red roof-tiled sanatorium buildings and the more recent darker-colored psychiatric hospital.