History of Gaylord

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History of Gaylord

Gaylord Hospital was founded in 1902 as a tuberculosis sanatorium and provided long-term treatment during the 50 years when the disease was epidemic. Gaylord's expertise became recognized nationwide, and many well-known individuals - including American playwright Eugene O'Neill - took advantage of its rehabilitative care and services.

In the 1950s, with the discovery of medications that successfully curbed the disease's progress, Gaylord turned its expertise to other forms of rehabilitation beginning with chronic pulmonary disorders, then stroke, brain injury and spinal cord injury. The hospital's programs grew over the years and Gaylord established itself as the premier long-term acute care hospital in the state. Today, Gaylord is well known among health care professionals throughout southern New England and metropolitan New York.

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare: A History

The Gaylord of today is a far cry from the Gaylord of 1902. It was first founded by the New Haven Anti-Tuberculosis Society to fight the great white plague. Dr. David Lyman was the first director of the Gaylord Farm Sanatorium, and he was joined by Florence Burgess who served as the first director of nursing.
Originally, Gaylord was a self-sufficient community with its own working farm. Underground tunnels connected the main buildings so people could travel from building to building during the bad winter months. Patients stayed in cottages that had long porches that could hold twelve beds. Fresh air was part of the cure, and patients would stay on the porches year-round. The Gaylord spirit lived on in its patients. Reunions were very popular, with patients returning year-after-year to reconnect with their Gaylord family, thanks to the vision and spirit fostered by Dr. Lyman and Mrs. Burgess.

The Spirit of Gaylord

Gaylord Sanatorium, with a plant value of $86,000 and $99.20 in hand, opened its doors to its first six patients on September 20, 1904. The hospital's 500 acres were originally purchased in 1793 by Dr. Moses Gaylord. The land stayed in the family until 1903 when the New Haven County Anti-Tuberculosis Association bought it at a nominal price. This Association, founded in 1902 to combat the rapidly increasing problem of tuberculosis (TB) in Connecticut, was to become the Gaylord Farm Association as it is known today. One of the first Public Health Associations to be organized in the United States, its objective was: 

To establish and maintain a sanatorium and hospital in New Haven County, on a non-profit basis, for the care and treatment of cases of pulmonary tuberculosis susceptible to amelioration...and to do generally anything and everything necessary, expedient or incidental to the operation of a sanatorium in all its phases. 

Dr. David Russell Lyman (1876-1956) was the first director of Gaylord Farm Sanatorium. After completing his medical training and internship in Baltimore, he went to the Trudeau Sanatorium in Saranac Lake in 1901 to study TB. There, he soon discovered he had TB. Upon his recovery, he decided to crusade against what was then called "the great white plague," the leading cause of death in the early 1900s. 

Florence Randolph Burgess was the first director of nursing and assistant superintendent during Gaylord's earliest years. In 1904, while visiting relatives in New Haven, she learned of the new tuberculosis sanatorium. She talked with the board of directors of the New Haven County Anti-Tuberculosis Association and soon presented herself to a surprised Dr. Lyman, announcing that she would be head nurse. Her sudden arrival gave him little choice, but she proved to be as capable and versatile as she was determined. 

Download highlights of our history: Gaylord Milestones 1902 to Today. Contact Public Relations to learn more or to request the booklet The Spirit of Gaylord: A History:

Gaylord Milestones

  • 1902 Gaylord Sanatorium founded to treat tuberculosis
  • 1904 First six patients are admitted
  • 1912 American playwright Eugene O'Neill is treated for tuberculosis at Gaylord
  • 1926 Gaylord became the first sanatorium in the country to offer its facilities to the United States Public Health Laboratory National Research Committee
  • 1946 Dr. Selman A. Waksman received the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for his discovery of streptomycin which, with other new drugs, accelerated the demise of tuberculosis
  • 1948 Gaylord Farm Sanatorium became Gaylord Hospital to address the health care issues of people with chronic illnesses
  • 1954 Gaylord became New England's first hospital specializing in comprehensive rehabilitation
  • 1966 Medicare and Medicaid became part of the health care culture across the country
  • 1989 Dedication of The Louis D. Traurig House, a transitional living facility for people with brain injuries
  • 1990 The Americans with Disabilities Act is signed into law
  • 1991 Gaylord assumed operation and management of its first outpatient satellite, the Gaylord/Yale-New Haven Rehabilitation Center at Long Wharf
  • 1991 Gaylord and Yale University School of Medicine establish a professional affiliation
  • 1993 Dedication of the 60,000 square foot Richard Jackson Pavilion for ambulatory care
  • 1996 Gaylord joins the National Handicapped Sports Association
  • 1997 Acquisition of the New Haven Sleep Disorders Center
  • 1998 Opening of the third satellite specializing in sleep medicine in Fairfield. The center expands to a 6-bed lab in the Trumbull Marriott Hotel in 2006 before relocating to new quarters in Trumbull in 2010.
  • 1999 Gaylord opens a sleep center in West Hartford. The center moves to Glastonbury in 2007.
  • 2004 Gaylord opens another site devoted to outpatient services and sleep services in Guilford.
  • 2006 Gaylord partners with Healthtrax Fitness and Wellness to open the Gaylord Wellness Center that houses a state-of-the-art fitness center, Gaylord Outpatient Center and Gaylord Sleep Medicine.
  • 2007 Gaylord breaks ground in June for new 36-bed Milne Pavilion, which opened in December 2008.
  • 2008 Gaylord partners with Boston Medical Center to become designated by the U.S. National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research as a Model System of Care for Spinal Cord Injury.
  • 2012 Gaylord acquires the Ekso Bionic Exoskeleton to help individuals with lower-body weakness or paralysis to walk
  • 2013 Gaylord opens the Center for Concussion Care
  • 2014 Gaylord is designated as a Passy-Muir Center of Excellence
  • 2015 Gaylord is designated as a Vapotherm Center of Excellence
  • 2015 Gaylord opens the Center for Brain Health
  • 2016 Gaylord opens a second Physical Therapy location in Cheshire, CT
  • 2020 Gaylord opens a third Physical Therapy location in Cromwell, CT


Call: (203) 284-2800