The following post about the history of the Clifton Springs Sanitarium Company Barn is a guest submission by Jennifer Morrisey of Home In the Finger Lakes
The town of Clifton Springs is home to a natural sulphur spring and early native Americans highly regarded the mineral spring for its healing properties while regularly drinking and bathing in the natural water source. Later in the 19th-Century “Water Cures” became popular with the upper class, therapeutic baths, and spa-like treatments were routinely prescribed for conditions ranging for nervousness to long-term chronic diseases. It was during the Water Cure movement in 1850 when Dr. Henry Foster, after hearing stories of the healing springs in Upstate New York, established his own “Water Cure” which later became the Clifton Springs Sanitarium Co.
Treatment at the Clifton Springs Sanitarium Co. was multi-faceted, the mind and body were both treated for optimum healing. Dr. Foster believed good quality fresh food was crucial to sound health and well-being. To guarantee the best and freshest foods were provided for Sanitarium guests Dr. Foster bought a 100 acre farm just 1 mile north of the Sanitarium to produce as much as he could. Originally a marshy and under-performing farm, Dr. Foster immediately began making improvements in drainage and fertilization resulting in fertile farmland, and eventually expanded the farm to 300 acres.
Dr. Foster didn’t stop at soil improvements, the Clifton Springs Sanitarium farm was to become the most innovative operation of its time.
The Sanitarium Farm was a dairy at heart. At its peak, a herd of 225 dairy cows lived in the once pristine white-washed cow barn with dormers. Dr. Foster was very involved in the farm, he went to great lengths to learn about animal husbandry, and brought only the finest livestock to the farm. The sanitarium farm herd was mainly comprised of Holsteins and Guernseys, which kept the on-site creamery by the stream abundantly producing enough milk to meet the dairy needs of the sanitarium guests. In 1893, an impressed milk inspector reported “in every respect to the conditions, could not be improved”. The farm also supplied the sanitarium with fresh produce, meat, and eggs, keeping with Dr. Foster’s desire to provide “nothing but the best”.
Jennifer Morrisey has lived in Upstate New York her entire life and is now raising her own family on a small farm in the Finger Lakes region. She is blogger at Home In the Finger Lakes where she writes about country life, shares kid-tested recipes and explores the unique local history of the Finger Lakes area. You can find her on Twitter, posting pics over on Instagram and sharing on Facebook.