The History of Healthcare in Dansville



"The Castle on the Hill"


Dansville is proud of its rich heritage in health and wellness.  Our community gained national prominence in 1858 when a water cure enterprise called "Our Home on the Hillside" was first established by the Jackson family of physicians.  This water cure enterprise rivaled the health resorts of Europe and attracted luminaries like Frederick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony.  Members of the Jackson family maintained the establishment, even rebuilding after a debilitating fire in June of 1882. The family rebuilt, opening the Jackson Sanatorium, in October 1883. The facility was larger and made of fireproof brick. The water cure facility continued to thrive for several decades until the "Jackson Health Resort" had to declare bankruptcy in 1914, citing advances in the medical field yielding the water cure obsolete.


For a brief period of time after World Was I, the facility was utilized to provide psychiatric care to veterans. Additional attempts to return the building to a health resort were unsuccessful. However, in 1921, Bernarr McFadden, an early proponent for diet and physical fitness, gave the property new life when he established the Physical Culture Hotel. Instead of a focus on a water cure, McFadden created an environment of health based on nutrition, exercise opportunities & a variety of therapeutic treatments. Under his guidance, the health resort gained immense popularity among the country's rich & famous. After McFadden's death in 1951, the resort was acquired by William Fromcheck, New York City hotelier. He operated the facility under the name "Bernarr Macfadden's Castle on the Hill" until 1971 when it closed it's doors for the final time. Today and through the past 100+ years, Dansville residents have fondly recalled memories of their experiences with the "Castle on the Hill.”


Clara Barton in Dansville


Clara Barton came to the Dansville community in 1876 after suffering from physical exhaustion
 developed from her years of constant travel and work. She resided for a period of time at the "Home on the Hillside". It was during that time period that she fell in love with the Dansville community and chose to establish a residence in Dansville for ten years. During that time, she created the first Chapter of the American Red Cross in 1881.  To this day, the American Red Cross Chapter #1 remains in Dansville.



Noyes Memorial Hospital


The hospital traces its history to Dr. George Ahlers of Pittsburgh who in 1890 organized the first hospital in Dansville with assistance from Dr. Roswell Park of Buffalo, New York. Dansville Medical and Surgical Hospital was located in what is now known as Kings Daughters and Sons building. In 1911 the hospital closed, and was reopened in 1913 as a proprietary hospital in the Colonial Inn, by Miss Elizbeth Swartz. In 1920 the Colonial Inn was incorporated as Dansville General Hospital. In the 1970s, funds were raised to replace the outdated and overcrowded hospital. The Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital was created on Clara Barton Street and has continued to grow to meet the advances in modern medicine.


Nicholas H. Noyes (1883 - 1977) was the first comptroller of Eli Lilly and Company. He grew up in Dansville and later went on professionally to serve many roles. He shared his wealth with our community to assist in the replacement of an overcrowded hospital located on Main Street [1970]. To learn more about the man our hospital was name after as well as the various community contributions he made, please visit this link