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Photo Archivist's Selection of the Month: May 2005

Dr. Givens’ Sanitarium, Stamford Hall

Dr. Givens' Sanitarium, Stamford Hall

from newspaper obituary
photo of Dr. Givens from the obituary
Dr. Amos Givens came to Stamford in 1891 or 1892 and started out in a Summer Street building which was soon outgrown by the number of his resident patients. He bought property along Long Ridge Road north of Bull's Head and developed what became “Dr. Givens Sanitarium for the Treatment of Nervous and Mental Diseases, Opium and Alcoholic Habitues,” also called “Stamford Hall,” which eventually became a very large property and institution, as can be seen above and in this amply illustrated brochure from c.1913. Indeed, the City Directory of 1913 gives Roxbury Road as the address for the property rather than Long Ridge Road, which means it must have reached far north of the Bull's Head area. (In more recent years, part of the property was the site of the executive offices of the Olin Corporation on Long Ridge Road.) At the time of Dr. Givens' death in 1919, the sanitarium must have been one of the largest in the country with a well-to-do clientele. Indeed, the obituary is rather titillating in that respect:
Letter written by Dr. Givens.
large image
thumbnail of a letter written by Dr. Givens, click here for full image
Some of the most distinguished statesmen, lawyers, judges, clergy, writers and bankers in America have been patients here. Were the list made public, it would cause astonishment, for often when the public assumed that certain well known people were traveling abroad, or spending vacations in some out-of-the-way resort, they were under treatment here.

Dr. Givens was president of the Fidelity Title and Trust Company, the bank, as well as a real estate developer. He also seems to have owned some land on the other side of Long Ridge Road, which now houses the Lord & Taylor department store. He is described as a kind of hands-on person, which this letter confirms. His called his banker's job and the writing of scientific articles “recreation.”

Stamford Hall, construction photo this looks like Dr. Givens
late construction photo
These seem to be late construction photos. We have more in our archive.
The detail view above right looks like Dr. Givens, when compared to the above newspaper image.
Dr. Givens Sanitarium, Stamford Hall Dr. Givens Sanitarium, Stamford Hall
Dr. Givens Sanitarium, Stamford Hall Dr. Givens Sanitarium, Stamford Hall
Dr. Givens' residence

more images

After Dr. Givens' death in 1919, the sanitarium continued to operate until 1965, apparently still as a family corporation. Following are exerpts from an anonymous notation, so we can't guarantee accuracy:

"…The company operated the private psychiatric hospital until 1965 when it was sold (the sale included property across Long Ridge Road (now Lord & Taylor).

"…Dr. Givens was reportedly buried in a rose garden on the property. A relative, Mrs. Mary Hadley (or Healey) was the chief shareholder for many years until she died in 1965. (Editor's note: this could have been Dr. Givens' daughter Marie, see his obituary.)

"…When Stamford Hall closed, I was on staff; and we had to transfer all patients to other facilities or discharge them to the care of a relative. Some patients had lived there for 40 years! On some charts, we found original contracts for total care of the patient (medication, food, laundry, etc.) for $35 a day "as long as the patient continues to require care and treatment". In some cases, there were no family to notify, only a trustee who paid the bills.

Certainly the census may have listed the permanent patients, even if the patients originally came from NY, VA, KY, MA, as some did."

Advertisement via Postcard in 1932
text text
Observe that from “Opium and Alcoholic Habitues” they have gone to the more discrete “habit conditions.”
“Overstimulation” may have been another code word for substance abuse.

Comedy skit by employees of Stamford Hall, mid-1930s
“Elston Waterman in white knickers”
staff preparing to play a skit staff preparing to play a skit

Photos © Stamford Historical Society

Letter written by Dr. Givens

Letter written by Dr. Givens

A son of Dr. Givens, Webster C., was Mayor of Stamford from 1957–1959.

Mayor Webster C. Givens

362.13G: Dr. Givens' Sanitarium (c. 1913)

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