This landmark in Avon has a long history and is located on 625E just west of Stratford of Avon, this 3 story home has 4800 sq ft of living area plus a large basement.
The 70 acres that belonged to Rockwood were purchased July 30, 1907 for $2,500 by Drs Thomas J. Beasley and Harvey A. Moore who planned to produce the finest treatment for tuberculosis patients which was a serious disease at the time. About 20 physicians and Merchants National Bank in Indianapolis were financial backers of this enterprise as everyone saw this as a breakthrough method of treating TB. At the age of 26, Dr. Beasley was director and president of Rockwood and he was already well-known in the early 1900s for his successful treatment of TB.
Patients at Rockwood endured the cold winters living in small unheated cottages with “window sides,” that were opened while patients slept. The idea being the cold fresh air was important to treat the disease. The accepted practice of the time was to send patients to hot, dry, western states and Dr. Beasley as saw this as too outlandish. His idea was to treat patients in the climate in which it was originally contracted and he thought the clean country air in Avon was a perfect place for treatment.
Rockwood produced nearly all its own food and patients were provided full, balanced meals plus extra meals of raw eggs and fruit. All the vegetables, meat, and dairy products including the maple syrup came from the rich farmlands in the “White Lick Valley,” which Rockwood owned. Ice for summer use was cut from Whitelick Creek and stored in sawdust. Charges for a double cottage were $18 a week and $25 a week for a private cottage.
From the Indiana Medical Journal May 1908:
Much can be done by private sanitariums on a small scale. The Rock wood Tuberculosis Sanitarium near Danville Indiana, eighteen miles west of Indianapolis is built upon the bungaloo style posts and a roof with properly adjusted screens. The results have been excellent while the prices are moderate not more than half as much as the cost of a trained nurse and physician. The State Commission would do well to study the method of construction and care taking of the Rockwood sanitarium as an example of the simplicity economy and success of the Bungaloo system.
But all was not well. The initial mortality rate of TB patients at Rockwood was extremely high; 34.9 per cent died in a one-month period. Those statistics couldn’t have helped the sanitarium’s reputation. Around the same time new drugs and vaccines made recovery quicker and the need for long therapy the sanitarium provided was lessening by 1910. So advances in treatments doomed Rockwood’s success and it closed it’s doors and was sold in 1913 just 6 years after is opened.
After it closed in 1913 Charles and Violet Isaacs purchased the property west of CR 625E which has the original three-story building that was the recreation center and living quarters for Rockwood’s interns, nurses and servants (center of 1900’s photo above). The building was a mess and they lived in the servants quarters while they fixed the home and added the south and north wings of the current home. Most of the cottages were purchased and moved off the property but 2 old outbuildings are still there on what is now a 3 acre lot.
If you would like to find a classic local home give The Derrick Team a call today at 317.563.1110.
Some information for this post found in “The History of Hendricks County 1914~1976” available for purchase at The Hendricks County Historical Society
Bottom photo from The Hendricks County Historical Society archives.