Minnesota State Sanatorium for Consumptives, Walker, Minnesota
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MInnesota State Sanatorium for Fonsumptives
|Cass County County, Minnesota|
|State/province:|| Minnesota |
Six years of planning and preparation preceded its opening in December of 1907. In 1901, a three-member commission of physicians was established by the legislature to investigate the advisability of establishing a facility for tubercular patients [Laws 1901 c300]. As a result of the commission’s report, the 1903 legislature authorized the establishment of a state sanatorium near Walker, in Cass County [Laws 1903 c316]. A five-member advisory commission of the Minnesota Sanatorium for Consumptives was established to approve a site for the facility and to appoint physicians in every county to screen applicants. The members of the advisory commission were physicians appointed by the governor for five-year terms. All three members of the 1901 investigating commission were appointed to the advisory commission and two new members were added. The ultimate power to manage and control the sanatorium rested with the State Board of Control. The sanatorium was popularly, and its post office officially, known as Ah-Gwah-Ching. Ever since its opening, Ah-Gwah-Ching held more patients than it was designed for according to an article in the Walker Pilot. Soon after the opening of the sanatorium it became apparent that more than a single facility was needed to serve the state. Reported cases of tuberculosis rose from 1,471 in 1890 to 1,864 in 1900 and 2,270 in 1910. To meet this rising demand, in 1913 the facilities at Walker were supplemented by a system of county sanatoriums and the advisory commission was given the power to approve plans for them. The state provided up to $50,000 to each county constructing a sanatorium [Laws 1913 c500]. By 1924 there were thirteen county sanatoriums (most serving more than one county). A superintendent managed Ah-Gwah-Ching. Other staff included physicians, as well as, male and female nurses, who were supervised by a steward and matron, respectively. Treatment concentrated mainly on bed rest but in extreme cases included thoracic surgery. Nearly all sanatoriums had an X-ray machine for diagnostic purposes. In 1957, the official name of the sanatorium was changed to the Minnesota State Sanatorium [Laws 1957 c19]. After its closing in 1962, [pursuant to Laws 1961 c618] the sanatorium at Glen Lake (Hennepin County) was designated as the state facility for tubercular patients. The facilities at Walker became the Ah-Gwah-Ching Nursing Home, a state institution for geriatric patients. St. Paul, Minn. — The Ah-Gwah-Ching Center, located about two miles south of downtown Walker, Minnesota, once was home to hundreds of tuberculosis patients who lived and worked on the property.
1935, a prison camp was established there to handle overflow from the reformatory at St. Cloud. In 1962, Aw-Gwah-Ching was converted to a state-owned nursing home for people with "challenging behaviors," says the DHS. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, Aw-Gwah-Ching now stands empty and mothballed. Its last patients left early 2008 and it is schedualed to officially close in 2008.
Memories and stories
- MPR Story on Aw-Gwah-Ching
- Minnesota Historical Society Agency History Record