Doctor Ransom and Madeira Sanitarium

For Madeira Tribune

Dr. Dow Ransom.

Many Madeira seniors remember that brown-sided, brown-stained building on Yosemite Avenue and I Street. It has a long and informative past, thanks to Dr. Dao H. Ransom. It was once a Madeira sanatorium.

The Madera Sanitarium began when Dr. Ransom, returning from service as a surgeon in the Army Medical Corps in World War I, realized that the city of Madera was in dire need of a hospital facility.

The 1906 graduate of Cooper Medical College—now Stanford University School of Medicine—and his wife, Edith Ransom, a graduate nurse of St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco, were like-minded and worked together to make a dream come true. They wanted to turn that building on Yosemite Avenue into a hospital.

Dr. Ransom came to Madera in 1893, the year Madera County separated from Fresno County. A member of Madeira High School’s graduating fourth class, he was no stranger to acting. Before and after school and on holidays and Saturdays, Dr. Ransom worked in Fred Barcroft’s hardware and plumbing store, which was located in the Fred Barcroft Building, a three-story brick building still standing on the south side of Yosemite Avenue.

After graduating from Madeira High School, Dr. Ransom went to San Francisco where he attended and graduated from Cooper Medical College, which later became part of Stanford University. Like he did at Madera High, Ransom worked his way through medical school.

After obtaining his license to practice medicine, Dr. Ransom returned to Madeira to hang a plank. His success in his hometown was unusual due to the fact that it was generally accepted that a local boy could not enter the medical field and be successful in his hometown.

When the United States entered World War I, Ransom enlisted and was assigned to New York Hospital, with the rank of lieutenant. With the war over, he returned home and set about converting the old building into a hospital – the Madeira Sanatorium.

Initially the house was the home of W. C. Maze, Madeira’s leading real estate developer and grain grower. He built the structure in one of his grain fields in 1907 to house his bride. At the time, the place was surrounded by grain fields that extend to present day Highway 99.

John M. Griffin later acquired the house, and the old counters can remember all those glorious parties and dances given by the Griffins and their three daughters, Elaine, Maureen, and Dorothy.

The house, with its long, wide porch, spacious rooms, fireplaces, sparkling chandeliers, and bountiful garden, was one of Madeira’s premiere venues.

So when Dr. Ransom returned from the war in 1919, he bought the property and turned it into a hospital. In 1935, he remodeled the building again. Balconies were enclosed to accommodate more private rooms for patients. In 1935, the cost of a room was $6 per day, with no additional charges for medications.

On Saturday, April 6, 1946, Madeira lost the founder of the sanitarium. Death came to Dr. Ransom in his beautiful home at 301 North C Street. Although he was not in good health, his death came suddenly to everyone who knew him. He simply went to bed and did not wake up.

Private funeral services were held for Dr. Ransom on Tuesday, 9 April 1946, in the Gay Chapel with Rev. Chester Hill. Burial followed at Fresno Memorial Shrine. Flowers have been removed from the services.

Dr. Ransom is survived by his wife, son Dow H. Ransom, Jr., daughter Ida Mae Edmonston, four brothers, one sister, and five grandchildren. His daughter, Lucetta, who was married to Judge Philip Conley before him.

He also left a heartbroken community, many of whom have not forgotten him to this day.

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