May 25, 2013

Photo Essay: Barlow Sanitorium, Neglected (Updated for 2021)

[Last updated 1/13/21 8:12 PM PT—For the latest on development proposals and renovations, visit]

Just outside of Elysian Park, Dr. Walter Jarvis Barlow built the Barlow Sanitorium in 1902, the location seeming ideal for tuberculosis patients because of its proximity to city-owned open space and the clean air that seemed to be kept in the meadow by the surrounding hillsides.

A tuberculosis patient himself, Barlow never thought the land would ever be threatened with development.

Now, most of the historic structures of the current Barlow Respiratory Hospital are slated for demolition, in favor of a condo development that would help raise money to update and modernize the hospital facilities that can be saved. Although many of the buildings on the Barlow campus are not abandoned, nor are they vacant (rather, being used for "storage"), they are, however, neglected.

Even if these buildings don't actually meet the wrecking ball, their fates have already been determined. We call that "demolition by neglect."

Directly adjacent to Elysian Park is the former dormitory...

...whose parking spaces are still used by current patients of a neighboring facility...

...and whose exterior shows the common signs of neglect.

The bulbs have been replaced...

...and the doors have been locked...

...keeping out any undesirables...

...but what precisely is being "stored" in there?

Orange plastic crates, jammed against the windows?

Tables and chairs? Old beds and defunct respiratory equipment?

Behind the dormitory... looks like doctors may still practice medicine here...

...but across the street...

...there are a number of cottages...

...once reserved for patients... storing mountains of paper files.

It doesn't look as though these buildings themselves will ever be rehabilitated...

...possibly for lack of maintenance or any kind of treatment.

This is the "abandoned" hillside of Barlow's campus...

...looking somewhat like a summer camp.

Barlow is and always has been a specialty hospital, opening first to treat patients befallen with tuberculosis, and when that disease became more controlled, broadening its services to more general respiratory issues, both chronic and acute.

It doesn't have a lot of beds.

Most of its patients don't need beds, their medical issues not requiring overnight hospital stays.

The surrounding communities of Elysian Heights and Echo Park are currently rallying to stop the demolition and proposed development (and subdivision) of the property, trying to prevent something like Century City being built right next to Elysian Park.

And not surprisingly, they cite increased traffic as one of the major deterrents. You think it's bad enough on Dodger gamedays? Just you wait.

Related Post:
Photo Essay: Rockhaven Sanitarium, Closed to Public, Exterior

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