Backstory and Context
The Kline Sanatorium was originally built in 1902 by Dr. James Kline, and served hundreds of patients before it closed as a hospital in 1935. Serving as a shelter for those left without homes in the wake of a 1939 tornado, the building again provided relief for people in the area. Later, the building served as a hotel, and then as a private residence and apartments. It stands today as one of the city of Anoka’s more iconic structures, clearly visible as you enter the city from across the Mississippi River.
Anoka was known as a healthful place to live in the early years of the 20th century. Part of that reputation came from the Kline Sanatorium located next to the Anoka-Champlin Bridge that spanned the Mississippi River on south Ferry Street.
There, “Dr. James Kline and his staff of 14 specialized in the treatment of “neurasthenia,” “catarrh,” and similar respiratory ailments.” By strict definition, a sanatorium was a hospital for the treatment of chronic diseases such as tuberculosis or various nervous disorders. A sanatorium could also serve as an institution for the preservation or recovery of health, especially convalescence. The Kline Hospital served as both, except in the case of tuberculosis; no evidence has been found to suggest that tuberculosis patients were accepted at Kline.
Built with a red pressed brick veneer, the hospital combines four architectural styles. The mansard roof with its many dormers follows the French Second Empire style. Arched windows and projecting parapets speak to the Richardsonian Romanesque elements of the building. Some of the most prominent features include the Queen Anne style conical and polygonal three-story towers at each of the front corners. Most prominent are the Corinthian columned porches and the original balustrades on the porch roofs from the Neo-Classical style.
Kline, a transplant from Pennsylvania, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Homeopathic Medicine. He and his wife, Anna Griffith, moved to Anoka in 1893 and bought out the practice of Dr. Brown who had a small Clinic on Branch and west Main Street.
Completed in 1902, the hospital had 54 rooms including spaces to perform operations, conduct special treatments, and dispense drugs, as well as waiting rooms, kitchens, and patient rooms. Patient care often involved many types of restorative baths including solar baths and massage treatments. Foresight to simpler maintenance meant the floors throughout the facility were made of hardwood making it easier to clean. The main floor was devoted to consultation offices; it was also the home of the doctor and his family. Records reveal the hospital’s reputation as a care facility quickly spread and by 1905, Kline Sanatorium had treated 320 patients. Dr. Kline placed great emphasis on patient education, which stressed achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He was also known for treating both rich and poor equally. Before arriving in Anoka, Dr. Kline worked nine years for the Great Northern Railroad as a surgeon, the medical examiner for the Masonic lodges, and for the New York Life Insurance Co. Outside of his practice, Dr. Kline served as a member of several civic organizations. When the State of Minnesota dedicated the new concrete bridge over the Mississippi River in 1929, they placed a bronze plaque with the names of Dr. and Mrs. Kline there in honor of their service to the community.
The couple had four children. Following Dr. Kline’s death in 1932 his eldest son, Harry, took over the practice. In 1935, the hospital closed but the building later served as a temporary shelter four years later when a severe tornado ripped through the city and left many homeless. The hospital was later sold and converted into a hotel, then sold again for use as a private residence and apartment building, as it is currently used by the Pierce family. In December of 1979 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
Kline Sanatorium, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, State Historic Preservation Office, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.
“What the Sanitarium is Doing.” Anoka Herald, January 5, 1906.
“Former Kline Hospital is Mecca for Homeless Following Tornado Disaster.”Anoka Herald, July 3, 1939.
Kiefer, Mary Ann “Minnesota History.” Unpublished Research Paper, November 14, 1989
Danson, Barb. “Dr. Klines Sanitarium.” Tonka Times, October 2013.
Minnesota Reflections. Kline Sanitarium. http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/ref/collection/ach/id/34
ABC Newspapers. The Kline Sanitarium. http://abcnewspapers.com/2013/09/05/anoka-county-history-kline-sanitarium-anoka/
Flicker. The Kline Sanitarium. https://www.flickr.com/photos/10609881@N07/4895459611/?ytcheck=1
ABC Newspapers. The James Kline Family. http://abcnewspapers.com/2013/09/17/anoka-county-history-james-kline-family-anoka/