Just outside the city of Liege on the banks of the River Weser a strange art deco style building sits on top of a ridge overlooking a busy railway. Parked at one end of the building is an old red fire engine. This is the Preventorium Dolhain, a tuberculosis sanatorium for children.
In the early part of the twentieth century TB had become a world wide pandemic. The hospital had 150 beds and such was the grip of the disease that they were full most of the time. But after the Second World War increasing use of recently discovered antibiotics soon made TB a thing of the past and the hospital began to slip into decline. With maintenance costs in excess of five million francs a year it made sound financial sense to close the hospital and it has stood empty ever since until it was bought by an investor in 1991 who had plans to turn it into apartments. There are a couple of old photos below, left and right, of the hospital when it was open. If you wish to see larger versions of either picture then please click on it...
Much of the interesting interior has been stripped - there are huge holes cut out of some of the walls and in places corridors come to a grinding halt where block work has been used to close them off. Of course without the plans very little of this work makes any sense!
The building is full of lovely art deco features with ornamental wrought iron on the staircases and oodles of sweeping curves. Huge semi opaque windows with tinted glass admit light and colour but at the same time afford privacy to those inside. The entire hospital, even the basement, is light and airy and it must have been a very pleasant place to be when it was active.
Sadly there are very few artefacts left for the explorer to see now but only a few years ago it was a completely different story with children's clothing, shoes, and toys littering the ward areas, and medical equipment such as specimen jars and medicine vials littering the clinical areas.
What the future holds for the hospital is unclear but perhaps in view of the current dramatic resurgence of the old disease and it's vicious resistance to modern antibiotics maybe the authorities should be contemplating buying the building back and using it in it's old roll once more. Only time will tell.
So for now here is a selection of the photographs we took in April 2012.