By Marissa GOULD
Volunteers converged on the site of historic Rockhaven recently, armed with little more than scrub brushes, cleanser and determination. The former sanitarium, which was established in 1923 by nurse Agnes Richards, served women suffering from mental illness. Since its closure in 2004, the historic buildings have suffered from neglect, relying on time and energy donated by local volunteers to halt further deterioration.
These efforts are spearheaded by Friends of Rockhaven, led by Joanna Linkchorst, which hosted an open day for locals to volunteer to help clean the Rockhaven site. These people included the Gould family who came to not only help out, but to also learn more about the historic sanitarium. While Linkchorst directed the work – mainly wiping down walls, cleaning dishes and cleaning floors – volunteers learned about the history of the facility.
Since Friends of Rockhaven was founded in 2013, a lot of work has already been done on the property: various windows have been replaced, walkways have been stabilized after falling to disrepair, and some painting has been done.
Much of this work was been done solely through volunteer efforts. Some people come by only once and never again; others, like children from Fremont Elementary, come back month after month to help clean up Rockhaven.
“[Volunteers] feel the importance of the history, and many feel the importance of the peacefulness in the special historic surroundings,” said Linkchorst. “These are people who love it and believe in it enough to volunteer their time and labor.”
There is still much work to be done at Rockhaven. Doors on one of the dormitory buildings, the Pines building, need to be replaced and the walls of the Rose Cottage need to be painted. Linkchorst is always ready to oversee volunteers willing to lend a hand.
To learn more about Rockhave and other historic sites in the Crescenta Valley, visit the website of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley at www.cvhistory.org.