Molly Stark Sanatorium is an abandoned tuberculosis hospital building located on the grounds of Molly Stark Park in Louisville, Ohio. It was named after the wife of General John Stark and was just one of 25 tuberculosis hospitals built in Ohio. Molly Stark Sanatorium was designed in the Spanish Revival style of architecture by architect Albert Thayer of New Castle, Pennsylvania.
The Sanatorium had a unique system for housing patients. Anyone who was completely mobile would be placed on the first floor and they were given freedom to roam the grounds. Bedridden patients were placed on the top floor. It was used to treat patients suffering from tuberculosis until the 1970s. Molly Stark Sanatorium also had other programs including a mental health facility and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
In 1938, the Works Progress Administration installed nearly 1,200 linear feet of tunnels at the sanatorium. While the tunnels were built initially for utility infrastructure on site, these tunnels provided an alternate means to travel between the various buildings on site that was undoubtedly appreciated by the staff on cold and rainy days.
The east and west wings were expanded in 1952 under architect Charles E. Firestone when a $750,000 bond issue was passed. Molly Stark Sanatorium changed its name to Molly Stark [Mental] Hospital in 1956, as the hospital began expanding for treatment of other illnesses and medical cases. The last remaining tuberculosis patients were transferred to the adjacent J.T. Nist nursing home in 1970.
Molly Stark remained in operation, but by the early 1990s things looked grim. The hospital’s infrastructure had aged, and by this time needed a lot of work to be deemed in good working order. Neglected aging infrastructure caused the hospital to close in 1995.
Its historical significance coupled with rumors of hauntings has kept Molly Stark within the public’s interest. Suspicious fire started in the main building in 2008 and the abandoned tuberculosis hospital was so popular that 64 people were arrested for trespassing there in 2015. And 8-foot, barbed-wire fence was installed around Molly Stark Sanatorium in 2015 to prevent the curious from entering the building.
In April 2009, Stark Parks purchased hospital area for the sum of one dollar and opened the new Molly Stark Park as a publicly accessibly county park on the former hospital site. There were plans to develop the 35 acres into something in the future, but for now the abandoned buildings just sit falling apart.
As of November, 2022 there are still five abandoned buildings in the hospital group: the main hospital, children’s hospital, nurses home, superintendent’s residence and power plant. Molly Stark Sanatorium reputation continues to lure ghost hunters and paranormal sleuths have infiltrated the remains of the sanatorium.