Mount Clemens, Michigan

The Bath City of America

St. Joseph Sanitarium

As of 1998, the St. Joseph Sanitarium located at 215 North Avenue, is the only remaining bath house in Mount Clemens. Built by the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, Cincinnati, Ohio, it was dedicated on November 21, 1899. One of the Sisters had come to Mount Clemens for the baths, was successfully treated, so suggested a sanitarium to be built. Four Sisters were sent to oversee the project, and ground was brokeen on November 2, 1898.

The St. Joseph Sanitarium was the major work of the well-known architect Theophilus Van Damme. Albert Brechler of Mount Clemens was the contractor for this building project, one of the city's largest, costing more than $175,000. The 1911 Cutter's Guide described it as "...of brick, three and four stories high, the main building fronting the east and more than 200 feet long, two ells of the same length run to the west ... giving rooms opening to every point of the compass."

Many out-of-town dignitaries attended the dedication ceremonies held in the afternoon followed by an elegant banquet at five o'clock. The local Lee Printing firm printed the elaborate dedication programs. The rector of St. Peter's Church, the Rev. J. A. VanHoomissen, was given much credit for the project, for he had also dreamed of such an establishment for years.

An advertisment of 1913 states that the sanitarium is "...elegantly furnished and equipped throughout with all modern and surgical appliances for the administration of the SULPHO-SALINE MINERAL BATHS, the waters of which are admitted to be the STRONGEST AND MOST POTENT known to therapeutics in the treatment of chronic diseases. ... the courtest of the Mineral Baths is extended to all physicians FREE OF CHARGE ... Instructions from physicians sending patients to the Sanitarium will be faithfully followed and all patients are advised to take the baths under the direction of a physician if possible"

The bath house, connected to the main building by heated hall, embodied all the latest appliances and improvements ... hardwood finish, floors, solid porcelain tubs, private cooling rooms with cots for rest, lockers for clothing, and every convenience for the comfort of bathers. A parlor was provided for transient bathers. The large generously furnished rooms and suites of the sanitarium created a feeling of relaxation and restfulness. A spacious library and reading room, handsome lobby and broad veranda gave ample space for exercise and amusement.

In 1900 the Sisters of Charity set aside the third floor as a 50-bed hospital, and by 1952 the mineral baths were completely phased out. The Sanitarium has had a number of additions so as to accommodate more hospital patients and medical facilities. The original bath structure, however, remains in magnificent condition and has been wonderfully maintained. With its high ceilings, impressive pillars, beautiful oak woodwork and staircase, its elegance is a testament to a bygone era.

In 1986, the Michigan Historical Commission placed St. Joseph Hospital and Bath House on the Michigan Register of Historic Places in time for the 150th anniversary celebration of Michigan statehood. The Macomb Daily of Monday, November 17, 1986, featured an article "Hospital Earns a Place in History," and quoted phrases from the Michigan History Division, " ... a three-story E-shaped building of Classical Revival architecture; ... the huge open porch on the main floor was a grandiose expression of the era's love of porches on homes and hotels; ... the original second story porch is enclosed and topped by Ionic columns; ... the fine architectural touches of the building include round arches and rectangular window enframements, medallions, cartouches and dentils."

In 1990 ownership of the St. Joseph Sanitarium and hospital complex was transferred from the Sisters of Charity to the Mercy Health Services. In 1993 St. Joseph Sanitarium received an Historical Marker from the Mount Clemens Historical Commission as well as the much larger Historical Marker from the State of Michigan.

Colonial Hotel and Bath House - includes photo!

Olympia Hotel & Bath House - includes photo!

Return to Bath City Page

Return to Macomb County