Funeral for a Friend

     The sanatorium complex was eligible under Criterion A and C for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.  Criterion A states that a property may be registered if it is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.  Under Criterion C, a property may be registered if it embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction.  Although the sanatorium buildings were deemed safe and structurally sound, county officials gave little thought to rebuilding them for other uses, and historical preservation was not considered to be an option.  Consequently, in August of 1993, the main complex of the sanatorium was destroyed and the once crown jewel of Essex County was finally laid to rest, ending an important era in our local, state and national history.  Its long journey was at last complete and its destiny to be forgotten had been fulfilled.  Nearly a century of time had been erased, and lost forever.


     I cannot explain why I felt such a connection with the sanatorium, or what had drawn me to it.  They were, after all, just cold, empty, concrete buildings.  But if you listened closely, you could hear the tragedy in the stories that echoed through its halls, and feel the despair in the distant memories that haunted its rooms.  There was always a sadness I felt at the sanatorium, and it affected me deeply.  It was a sadness for all of the people who must have suffered there, and for the sanatorium itself.  That despite all of the good it had done, and for the major role it had played in our history, it was condemned to linger, as a relic from the past, caught in a time where it was no longer needed.  Sentenced to a long, slow, hard death that forced it to endure years of neglect and abuse that robbed it of its elegance and its dignity.  A fate it did not deserve.






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