A few months ago we wrote a blog about the Songshan Sanatorium Superintendent’s Dormitory, a Japanese era building that is one of the best preserved in Taipei, which is sitting and rotting while the Taipei government figures out funding for its renovation. We were interested to find the actual sanatorium itself, and if it even still existed. It was not easy to find or easy to get to, but we did eventually find it…at least the part of it that is still standing.
I would love to tell everyone where it is, but as it lays on private and protected property; we will not disclose the explicit location. With the help of clues from other blogs and historical photos, we found it abandoned on private property that has 24/7 surveillance.
We did not find a single English article on this building, except in statistical research of the hospital facilities at the time. The building itself is not mentioned as a historical building registry of Taipei.
The original Japanese style, two-storey, wooden Sanatorium was constructed in 1915 during the Japanese colonial period of Taiwan. Here is a picture of the original wooden Sanatorium (on the left), and the existing concrete extension: Also, here is a photo of the staff in front of the wooden Sanatorium during the Japanese colonial period. A Japanese Physician was assigned as superintendent, and his dormitory was built nearby (松山療養所所長宿舍）, which is now the best preserved and most well-known building connected to the Sanatorium.
The Sanatorium’s main purpose was to treat mentally disabled patients, and later was turned into a center to cure tuberculosis. It has had multiple names through the ages, beginning with松山錫口養生院 (Songshan Xikou Health Hospital), and then changed to 松山療養所 (Songshan Sanatorium) in 1925. When the ROC took control, its changed name was changed again to 台灣省立松山療養院, (Taiwan Provincial Songshan Sanatorium) in 1946, with the first superintendent being Yang TianMu (楊添木). It was also known as (or part of it was) 治肺結核療養所 (Tuberculosis Treatment Sanatorium). Here are a few historical photos of the original wooden sanatorium, with surrounding fields, hills, and lakes. Lakes surrounded the area around what is now the Sanitorium. Nowadays those lakes are mostly filled in, with Nangang Park and an Army base taking their place. There is still one lake left that is much smaller now due to silting.
The original Japanese style wooden Sanatorium building sat on the west side of a prominent hill that at the time. The building had 29 beds in 1915, then the capacity expanded to 72 in 1933.
The cement building that remains was built in the 30s or 40s, probably around the time the Sanatorium’s capacity was expanded. Here is a video that shows changes to the Sanatorium overtime:
From old maps I can tell that the original wooden building was torn down by 1972 in favor of a new cement building, probably for the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Another brick building behind the current cement structure was built around 1965. At the same time, a group of Japanese era buildings below the hill were also torn down to build what is now the administrative buildings for the Ministry of Health and Welfare. By 2014 another historical building that sat in front of the now cement Sanatorium was torn down and the whole place was turned into a parking lot. All the buildings on the lot seemed to be abandoned when I was there. I assume that the whole plot of land now serves as a parking lot for the employees that work at the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The intricate and beautiful two storey Japanese era wooden Sanatorium was torn down around 1972, so all that is left to photograph is the concrete expansion to the Sanatorium.
I visited the existing building at night, avoiding most of the employees that park there during the day time. The whole building is completely boarded up with sheet metal, with no way to peek inside.
There is also a lock and wooden boards blocking the main entrance. That car was driving away as I took this shot. Did he see me? Of course not, I was wearing my invisibility cloak.
On the entrance is spray painted "please do not park at the entrance," I guess they come in and out of it often? Perhaps it is used as a storage shed.
Again, all windows are completely shielded shut.
That car in the corner seemed to be abandoned as well.
There is an address plate still on the outer wall of the Sanatorium. You can see the Taipei 101 from the top of the hill. I’m sure in its time the surrounding lakes, mountains, and Taipei in the distance must have been a beautiful sight for all the patients in the Sanatorium
I ended my tour with a peek into the abandoned building behind the Sanatorium, the one that was built in about 1965. Perhaps this is what the innards of the Sanatorium look like? Probably not, but we may never know. I am not sure the significance of this building, but maybe I will visit again during the daytime when I can take some decent photos.
As with the Sanatorium Superintendent’s Dormitory, I think Taipei City and the Ministry of Health and Welfare want to keep this building hidden and secret. If this building were considered a historical building, then they would be forced to renovate and be burdened with pulling money out of their budget to fix up the place. I’m surprised that the building has not been knocked over earlier to make more room for parking space.
We apologize that we have given so little information about the Sanatorium, but there are very limited resources. We’ll be sure to update this blog we learn of anything further.
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We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.