One of our most beloved early 1900s buildings that no longer stands is the 1903-1907 Albert Baldwin Sanatorium. This brilliantly designed Spanish styled hospital was built by David G. Baldwin, recently from New Orleans, who - at the time of the building's erection - was dealing in real estate and building homes in the Sun City. In New Orleans, he had served as postmaster and as a cashier for his father's Bank in the Big Easy. He contracted tuberculosis and sought relief in the dry heat and sunshine of El Paso, and decided to use his wealth to build a Sanatorium.
By early 1903 he had already hired an architect, had the plans drawn, and had purchased the land up in the Highland area of the city. He chose the location carefully, with a wonderful view; with plenty of sunshine; with the Franklin Mountains to block the dust storms; and, finally, to be close to the Cotton Street Streetcar line. We believe the hospital was named for his father.
Baldwin's dream took some time to realize. Although he purchased the land and had the plans in hand early 1903, actual construction did not begin until the middle of September, when the foundation was laid. The building was not completed until July, 1905, and then was not opened until the first of May in 1907 - over four years from the planning stages! The reason for the delays are unclear, but appear to be associated with Mr. Baldwin's habit of changing plans, and some amount of difficulty obtaining building materials.
The building, according to Baldwin, was designed in a Renaissance style with Spanish/Mission accents. It was built in the shape of a three-sided rectangle, or quadrangle. The structure was a two-story stone building, with a basement. The basement was designed to be largely above ground to contain the cafeteria and offices. The hospital was designed to house 40 patients, with 25 on the first floor - each room with its own rennaissance-styled arched entryway in a porch which encircled the building.
The stone used in its construction was milk-white Tufa stone from the nearby Franklins. To secure the desired stone, Baldwin actually purchased the quarry and hired workers to cut the bricks.
Pictures of this structure, available in the El Paso Public Library's Aultman Collection, show a stunningly handsome hospital structure on par with (and preceding) the Grand Sanatoriums built in later years by Thorman and the firm of Gibson & Robertson. It was magnificent architecture and it was a shame to lose when it was demolished in 1972.
Who designed the Albert Baldwin Sanatorium? It is very difficult to document the original architect, and we were unable to identify the firm. In March and also in September of 1903, Baldwin stated that the Architect was based in New Orleans, but did not identify him/her by name. The architectural drawing for the hospital was printed in the September 19, 1903 El Paso Herald and it is signed - but we can't make out the signature except for the first two initials. We've attached the drawing below.
Consensus among many local Historians and history enthusiasts names the firm of Trost & Trost as the architect, but this is not the case. According to a 1928 listing of Building Permits issued (El Paso Evening Post, 12/28/1928, page 9), the firm did alterations (a "modernization") to the building that cost $5,000. As far as we know, this is the extent of their involvement in the building.
The Albert Baldwin Sanatorium, along with several other demolished El Paso buildings, remains in our psyche - reminders of a diminishing architectural heritage in our city.
Text and research provided to sketchclub.net by Mark Stone, citing period newspaper articles accessed at newspapers.com.
|Photograph courtesy of the El Paso Public Library's Aultman collection, via the UNT Digital Archives at https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth875284/m1/1/|
|Newspaper clipping from the July 6, 1907 El Paso Herald, via newspapers.com|
|Photograph, which shows the beautiful Franklin Mountain white Tufa Stone used in its construction, courtesy of the El Paso Public Library's Aultman Collection, via the UNT Digital Archives at https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth875403/|
|Newspaper clipping from the September 19, 1903 El Paso Herald, via newspapers.com|
|Closeup of the Newspaper clipping from the September 19, 1903 El Paso Herald,|
via newspapers.com, showing the "inaudible" architect's name