In the late nineteenth century, Jamestown on Conanicut Island was considered an ideal summer resort. Its sea breezes brought comfort in the summer heat, and its beauties included peaceful pastures and panoramic views of Narragansett Bay. The island also had a reputation for being especially healthful. In 1881, the Newport Daily News, quoting statistics from the State Board of Health, reported, “the rate of mortality [in Jamestown] is less than in any other town in the state.” The organization that continued in its role as health facility the longest was the Dr. Bates Sanitarium. The term sanitarium, alternatively spelled sanatarium, generally refers to establishments that focus on restorative methods and cures. When spelled sanatorium, the term refers to institutions serving those with communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis.5 Following the Civil War, spa-like sanitariums appeared across the country. Dr. Bates Sanitarium in Jamestown, founded in 1900 and continuing in operation until 1944, was a true sanitarium. It operated as part resort, part a place for rest and recuperation, and part nursing home for the chronically ill. Except for short periods of epidemics, the sanitarium did not treat communicable diseases.
Maden, Sue and Enright, Rosemary
"The Dr. Bates Sanitarium in Jamestown, 1900-1944,"
Newport History: Vol. 78
, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/newporthistory/vol78/iss260/2