Over the last 100 years, the Parke County Sanatorium has been a few different things. Now, after being vacant for 10 years, a new owner is looking to give the historic building new life as an event space.
When it first opened in the early 1900s, the Sanatorium was used to treat tuberculosis. Once a cure was found in the 1950s, the property changed yet again. After sitting vacant for a few years, the property would house a mental health facility and a nursing home. Those facilities closed in 2011 and the property has sat vacant again until now.
New owner Gregg Larson purchased the property earlier this year. Larson said he liked historical sites and was amazed by the buildings on the property.
“It was just an amazing place and it was kinda falling down,” he said. “And if someone didn’t get here and fix it. It was gonna go away.”
Larson’s vision takes the property away from its medical history and turns it into a large gathering place for anyone who needs space.
“Different events that need large spaces that can kinda use a ghost town,” he said. “We’ll hold events of that type here.”
With over 200 acres of property, Larson plans to renovate each building. The first on his list is the property’s dairy barn. In the past, it was used as the tuberculosis center’s source for milk and has housed other barn animals. Its future will be for weddings and live music.
Still, Larson said that all the properties, including the dairy barn, will keep their historical elements, but modern aspects will be added.
“We are going to maintain all of its architectural features,” he said. “When you look at it once it’s restored, it should look very much how it looks today, but with hidden features of like heating and air conditioning.”
To help promote the property and its future, the Sanatorium is giving tours during the Covered Bridge Festival. Tours of the barn and the rest of the property are being offered for the duration of the festival.
Still, no matter what the outcome of the project, Larson said being a part of the property’s history is enough.
“Just the chance to be a part of the restoring and saving of something historic is kinda rewarding itself,” he said.