San Haven Postcard 1940

I found this postcard in a box at an antique store.  It’s a postcard of San Haven Sanatorium in 1940.  I was impressed that this postcard shows an overview of the grounds including the beautiful gardens and water feature which are now completely dry and overgrown.

This postcard was sent by someone named Olga, who must have been visiting a patient named Hilda, to Mrs. Harold Wendt in Columbia, Wisconsin on February 19th, 1940.  It reads:

Dear Mabel,

How are you all?  Seems like I’ve been gone a month.  We’ve seen so many people we hadn’t seen in almost 20 years.  Hilda is so much better.  Doesn’t look as though she had gone through an operation.  I’ll be home soon.  Olga

San Haven Postcard 1940


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22 Comments on “San Haven Postcard 1940

  1. I grew up in Dunseith just south of the San and have many fond memories of the place. I had friends that lived there and would spend time up there playing on the grounds and running through the steam tunnels that connected all the buildings. I was up there last summer and took pictures. It is a shame that such a beautiful place was let to go to the ruin it is now. With all the money that is wasted in this country, surely it could have been and should have been preserved as a national landmark. There is tons of history there.

    • Do you know if this site is open to the public to metal detect on or if there was someone in the area to get permission to get on the property. George 701-789-0886

  2. It’s sad to see all those buildings going down; they are all condemned and the place is a horse pasture. My great-aunt was hospitalized there when Dad was young. I told him it must have been a beautiful place at one time. He replied that it had always been ugly. I guess if you were there for its real purpose, you see it in entirely different eyes.

    • My uncle Glen had TB when he was in the Army…He was in San Haven when I was really young…I remember going there to visit …I couldn’t go in the hospital, but I remember a pond out front that had huge goldfish in it…and a beautiful park like grounds….

  3. Also, there is a TV show that featured it as a haunted place. I haven’t seen it but it does have a lot of tragic history there that could account for that.

  4. When I was about ten years old my father was a patient at San Haven. Children were not allowed inside, we could only stand on the lawn and wave at him through his window. While our mother visited Dad, my sister, my brother I roamed the grounds. They were beautiful and exciting. I remember especially the large goldfish pond with hundreds of flowers surrounding it. There was a little store where we could buy treats as we waited for visitation hours to end, and our drive back to Nanson ND where we lived. This was in 1943-45.

  5. My mom (Dorothy May Fahey) was a patient at San Haven when she was 6 years old. She was born in 1927 in Lakota, ND. She befriended a little boy while she was there part of her first grade and all of her second grade. My mom passed away May 11, 2010 never finding out what became of her childhood friend. She graduated from high school, worked in the Bank of Lakota, married Rudolph Hanson, had eight children, moved to Wisconsin, and worked as a nurses assistant in River Falls.

    I would appreciate any information regarding a little boy who once was my mom’s friend while they both were at San Haven. Mom always commented how the older patients tutored them both as they were the two youngest ones there.

  6. My Grandparents lived at the San in the late 40s and early 50s. My Grandfather had TB and was in and out of the hospital so much they finally gave him a job up there that he could do when not in the hospital. They moved into an apartment in a large apartment building on the grounds. My Grandmother worked there also. We visited many times and have many wonderful memories sledding and hiking in the winter time – and we thought the tunnels connecting the buildings were ultra neat. The last time I saw my Grandfather was through the open window from his third floor hospital room. We had to stand on the road and shout up to him – as kids we could not go inside. He died shortly thereafter.

    My brother and I went through the place a few years ago and actually went into the apartment building and found their old place.

  7. Hi, as a paranormal investigator, I would be very interested in coming up and checking it out. My cousin JoAnn was in there as a young girl and recalls tales to us of ghosts and whatnot. Please contact me at if there is a chance we can come up to the sanitarium..thanks.

  8. Joanie, I’m sorry but… A few years ago. A Paranormal Investigating TEam called “Ghost Adventurers” already went there. Some of the Tribe’s higher diplomatic people were only able to see the footage. After they did however, the Tribe announced that they will not let any other Paranormal Teams visit San Haven because of the terrible and horrific images that were taken on video. Apologies, but after the teenager who died there recently, no-one is able to enter the grounds now.

    • Edward,

      That seems a little fishy to me considering I can find no other record of this, especially not the big Ghost Adventures crew from the Travel Channel. And I also was in contact with a member of the tribe who was able to grant me permission to go and he never mentioned this either. They do let people in, as far as paranormal investigations are concerned I do not know but your comment seems made up and maent to scare people away when In reality you are able to visit. And that Teenager died in 2000, after he fell down an elevator shaft on accident. Thats not very recent.

  9. Thanks so much for letting me know everyone. Wish the news was different. Take care!

  10. My dad was a patient at San Haven from 1946 to 1955…almost 10 years. I had many pictures of this place and still have some. At one time it was a self contained city. Taxi services, bakery, linen services, full dining area, post office, livestock barns growing their own meat, huge summer gardens and list goes on. There were many doctors and nurses there from all over the country. I always remember the ball room. I think it is still there. IT was beautiful with a stage for the bands…it was grand. San Haven has so much history. If you go into Dales Cafe in Dunseith, ND… you can see pictures of main street Dunseith you can see pictures of how much hustle and bustle happening there when San Haven was at it’s finest…sad to say that as many many people died there. I worked there when it was a hospital for the mentally retarded…oh developmentally disable today. I worked there for around 15 years off and on. I was in the basement and all over that place after dark etc. I walked many of those tunnels over and over. I worked alone many nights and never was I ever scared of ghosts…etc. I never seen one or heard one. I even lived there in an apartment over the post office in 1976 and there was only one other person living there with me…and the bats. It was a beautiful place…my apartment. Though I do believe there are many spirits there as so many died there I never felt anything but peace there. I am a member of the Chippewa Tribe here. I did hear of some paranormal crew going there but never heard anything about what they did or found…probably nothing!

  11. Pingback: Inside San Haven Sanatorium, part two :

  12. My Mother, Marvyl Germanson was there from 1939-44 , plus or minus a year. She would have been age 12 to 16 or 17. Does anyone know someone who may have lived at San Haven at that time that may have known Marvyl?

  13. My mother worked at San Haven she was about 16 yrs old she cleaned. To this day she tests positive for Tuberclois (TB). She is now 86 yrs old

  14. Pingback: 8/14/2014 (2072) | Dunseith Alumni

  15. i live like a 100 yards way from the san in a white trailer house my name is robert peltier nd ive never seen or heard anything since ive lived back here nd its been over 21 yrs

  16. My mother worked at San Haven back in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. She was a Nurses Aide. She met my Aunt Lorraine Hanson there and they became best friends. Lorraine was a nurse. Lorraine introduced Mom to her brother Jim, whom my mother married. My Mom told my many stories about the people she worked with at San Haven and about the patients. I sometimes think they were some good times for her as a young woman.
    Another woman, Susan states that her mother tested positive for TB after working at San Haven. My mother did as well. She had a lung biopsy done and they found that she had dormant TB in her lungs and she would have it in her lungs, dormant her whole life. It was never active. She did, however, always test positive for it.
    My aunt Lorraine died in child birth long before I ever met her so I don’t know if this was true for her also. My mom always did miss her best friend after Lorraine’s death.
    that generation had it rough.

  17. Greetings to all! My father was William L. Wallbank, M.D., Superintendent of the San in the late 1930’s to around 1950. He treated TB and contagious disease almost all of the 50+ years he practiced medicine. I was born later while he was Superintendent of William Roche Hospital in Toledo, OH. My siblings, however, were all alive before the family moved. So, I have two sisters and a brother that were born in San Haven. They have fond memories of their time there and speak of it with affection. I’m wondering if anyone remembers my dad or any of my family from that time. They lived in the large home on the grounds of the San (which was intended specifically for the Superintendent). I don’t believe the house is there anymore, as I don’t see it in any of the pictures I have found of the San either old or recent. If anyone knows what happened to the house, my family and I would love to know. Thanks, Peter Wallbank


  18. It’s a pity that the place is closed to the public. I remember the sanatorium from my childhood, when we had a small horse farm nearby, and often my brother and I passed by after school. At the time, it seemed like a wonderful place.

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