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Stamford Hall: New England's Largest Private Sanitarium

Before the retail stores and office buildings, discover what previously dominated Long Ridge Road in the late 1800s.

On Long Ridge Road is a network of office buildings that, from the main road, appears like any other. Winding through the roads toward the visitor parking, however, it begins to feel more and more removed from the surrounding office complex. Rippowam River is visible, along with open fields that, covered with snow, still resemble the postcards on record at the

This property was once home to "Dr. Givens' Sanitarium for the Treatment of Nervous and Mental Diseases, Opium and Alcoholic Habitues." It was established in 1891 and later known by the more discreet name of Stamford Hall. For years, Stamford Hall specialized in "the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders as well as habit conditions."

This image from a brochure shows the facility often portrayed as an idyllic retreat from the outside world. It was set up as a network of administrative buildings, cottages and pathways. By 1913, the facility took up over 100 acres and is thought to have extended north to Roxbury Road.

The proximity to New York City and the Long Island Sound was advertised in brochures, as was the climate, which was described as "exceptionally mild in winter. The snowfall is much less than at many points further south."

One startlingly, light-hearted anecdote from February 1908 was written up in "The New York Times." An administration building at Stamford Hall was destroyed in a fire — all 12 patients in that building and 60 in a nearby building were safely evacuated.

"The New York Times" reported that a man from New York had not spoken since entering the hospital but "excited by the fire, he spoke freely, and seemed to throw off the melancholia. The physicians say there is a chance that the improvement will be permanent."

Other newspaper articles from the time tell of escapes from Stamford Hall, including patients who made their way into New York City or headed west. Other articles report on prominent citizens admitted to the hospital after suffering nervous breakdowns. In 1923, Draper Daugherty, son of U.S. Attorney General Harry Daugherty, had himself voluntarily committed.

Givens died in 1919, but the hospital continued to operate until 1965. The land was reportedly sold in 1965, including Givens' property across Long Ridge Road that is now .

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