University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Mountain Air: The Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium

“Little Red,” Dr. Trudeau’s cottage in the Adirondack Mountains, 2008

“Little Red,” Dr. Trudeau’s cottage in the Adirondack Mountains, 2008



A prominent example of the mountain air approach was the famous Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium at Lake Saranac established by Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau of New York.

Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium

Child Memorial Infirmary with open-air porches for tuberculosis patients at Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium, Saranac Lake, N.Y.  Library of Congress.

Dr. Trudeau contracted tuberculosis while practicing medicine after his graduation from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He later founded the Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium in the same place that he had chosen as a quiet retreat when diagnosed 13 years earlier. The sanatorium expanded from the small cottage where he had lived while ill to a 22-building complex complete with infirmary and chapel. In 1885 the first patients arrived and began Dr. Trudeau’s treatment plan. The patients would spend at least 8-10 hours outdoors per day, regardless of the weather, often sitting on the large veranda that was a distinctive feature of the Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium. The patients were to gradually increase the time they spent exercising in the mountain air. In addition, they adhered strictly to a healthful diet that included a glass of milk every four hours.

Edwin Alderman. The University of Virginia had an illustrious patient at Lake Saranac, New York. Edwin Alderman served as the first president of the University of Virginia starting in 1905. For a year and a half during 1912-1914 he was treated for tuberculosis of the larynx and complications in both lungs at Lake Saranac. Following treatment and recuperation, he returned to the University of Virginia and served as president until his death in 1931.

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