Physical Culture Hotel, Founded by Bernarr McFadden, Dansville NY

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Physical Culture Hotel, Founded by Bernarr McFadden, Dansville NY


A background of weightlifting and wrestling prepared McFadden (1868-1955) for his advocacy of physical fitness--or "physical culture" as it was called at the time. His entrepreneurial talents encompassed exercise equipment, dietary advice and, beginning in 1899, publication of Physical Culture magazine. By the 1920s, McFadden's publishing talents had created a lucrative portfolio: True Detective, True Romances, Dream World, True Ghost Stories, Photoplay, and True Story--this last title reaching nearly two million readers by 1929.

With cash in hand, that year he purchased a building formerly known as the Jackson Sanatorium. That site had been renowned since the 1850s as a place of rest and recovery for those suffering nervous breakdowns, treated by Dr. James Caleb Jackson using a program of hydrotherapy (the "water treatment"), vegetarian diet, daily exercise, and spacious rooms with plenty of fresh air. The original building was called "Our Home on the Hill" and was very popular with wealthy, educated clients. After an 1882 fire destroyed the original building, Jackson's son built the structure pictured; by 1914 his fortunes had waned and he declared bankruptcy. McFadden renovated the building and enjoyed great success, initially, before a similar decline in fortunes eventually led to the building's closure in 1971. It remains a popular (and illegal) destination for "ruin porn" visitors.


Curteich Co., Chicago
Lieb's Bookstore and G.C. Murphy Co., Dansville




Cooper, Ken


Courtesy of Ken Cooper


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Original Format


Physical Dimensions

3.5 x 5 in.