AKA: Marin County Girl Scouts, Camp Arequipa, Fairfax, CA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - health and welfare buildings

Designers: Bakewell and Brown, Architects (firm); John Bakewell Jr. (architect); Arthur Brown Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1911, demolished 1984

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3025 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
Arequipa Sanitorium, Fairfax, CA 94930

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San Francisco physician Philip King Brown worked with the renowned architectural firm of Bakewell and Brown who designed the Arequipa Sanatorium in 1911. According to the annual reports put out by the clinic in its earliest years, it was "A Sociological and Economic Experiment in the Care of Tuberculous Wage Earning Girls." The etymology of "Arequipa," is not completely clear. It is name of a regional capital of Peru, but was thought by Brown to be a Quechuan word meaning "place of rest." It operated in the pristine Marin County countryside for 46 years, from 1911 until 1957.

The architect Gardner A. Dailey (1895-1967) designed a nurse's residence for Arequipa in 1947.

Building History

San Francisco physician Philip King Brown (1869-1940) opened the Arequipa Sanatorium, a tuberculosis santatorium outside the Marin County town of Fairfax, on 09/04/1911. Brown aimed to serve lower and middle-class women patients whom, the doctor found in his practice following the 1906 Earthquake, contracted TB much more frequently than men. He employed occupational therapy techniques to distract patients from the symptoms of their disease. According to archivists Mary Morganti and Katherine Bryant of the University of California Berkeley's Bancroft Library, "Conceived as a 'school' where patients would learn how to cure themselves through fresh air and bed rest, the sanatorium featured large wards that were screened from floor to ceiling, even in winter. Whenever possible, locally grown food was served, and members of many Bay Area families donated money and goods. Arequipa eventually had three wards, a small library, living room, dining room, bathrooms, and examining rooms. Patients read, slept, wrote and published in-house magazines, and enjoyed the various entertainers who came to visit the sanatorium." (See Mary Morganti and Katherine Bryant, University of California, Berkeley, Bancroft Library, "Inventory of The Arequipa Sanatorium Records, 1911-1958," accessed 07/18/2016.) Brown worked with a succession of English pottery experts, including Frederick Hurten Rhead (1880–1942), Albert Solon (1887-1949)and Fred H. Wilde (1856-1943), to develop and manage a ceramics studio at Arequipa that gained acclaim during its short period of operation from 11/1911 until 1923. (See Suzanne Baizerman, Lynn Downey and John Toki, "Introduction," Fired by Ideals Arequipa Pottery and the Arts & Crafts Movement, [Rohnert Park, CA: Pomegranite Coomunications, Incorporated, 2000], p. 1-2.)

Arequipa Pottery became a money-making success for a short time for the sanatorium. Janet Koplos and Bruce Metcalf stated in their book, Makers: A History of American Studio Craft:"Arequipa took a booth at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915 in the Palace of Education and Social Economy. There was a model of the sanatorium and pottery, and women who had worked there demonstrated processes. Orders and inquiries came from all over the United States following this exposure." (See Janet Koplos and Bruce Metcalf, Makers: A History of American Studio Craft,[Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010], 91-92.)

During the 1900s, Brown worked with nurse Elizabeth Ashe, the co-founder of San Francisco's first settlement house, the Telegraph Hill Neighborhoood Center (along with the social worker Alice Griffith), to assist tubercular patients at its clinic. Ashe had met the steel magnate and real estate investor Henry E. Bothin (1853-1923), aboard the Sausalito Ferry in the summer of 1903; she had a young boy in her arms that she was taking to a new convalescent residence she had started near Ross, CA, called "Hill Farm." Noticing the child, Bothin struck up a conversation with her that developed into a long-standing philanthropic relationship. In 1910, Bothin donated to Ashe 122 acres to expand Hill Farm and rename it the “Bothin Convalescent Home for Women and Children," a convalescent residence for women and children. Bothin founded one of CA's earliest charitable foundations, the Bothin Foundation in 1917, that focused its philanthropy on assisting children and those with tuberculosis. Brown worked with Ashe, who administered Arequipa's day-to-day affairs as well as those of Hill Farm.

Donating to Ashe's charities became popular among the wealthy of San Francisco. She and her colleague Griffith raised $20,000 in cash and donations to open Arequipa, a clinic that had modern, comfortable surroundings and, early on, the financial wherewithal to subsidize treatment costs. In 1918, "...Arequipa had a waiting list of 3 to 4 months for new patients. Even though Arequipa had to raise its prices in June of 1918 to $1.50 a day, Arequipa Sanitarium had the lowest cost of any tuberculosis sanitarium in America." (See "The History of Arequipa," accessed 07/18/2016.) The momentum that Brown, Ashe and Bothin had begun at Arequipa during the early-to-mid 1910s, however, was disrupted by the United States' entry into World War I. Ashe and Brown left for other charitable pursuits, and the absence of their leadership sapped the clinic of much of its vitality. The facility continued to treat about 120 patients per year during the 1920s, but this rate of treatment would soon become financially burdensome.

Following World War II, the development of effective antibiotics enabled tuberculosis patients to be treated easily on an out-patient basis, so the need for sanitoriums decreased drastically. Arequipa saw its last patient resident in 1957, and closed that year. The same year, another charity, the Marin County Society for Crippled Children and Adults, opened at the aging sanitorium. Due to the cost of upkeep, this effort failed rapidly, and the property lay vacant into the 1960s.

Arequipa's land was leased during the following decade to the Bay Area Girl Scouts organization, who created a camp on the property. The sanatorium building was damaged during heavy storms in 1982 and 1983 and razed in 1984. The Storms of 01/03/1982 to 01/05/1982, for example, caused significant landslides all over Northern CA, and more than $100 million in damage. As a result, the region became elegible for federal disaster relief. According ot one source, "It was the Bay Area’s worst natural disaster since a 1906 earthquake."


Arequipa experienced a fire in 1931.


The sanitorium was torn down in 1984, due to damage caused by torrential rains in the winters of 1981-1982 and 1982-1983.

PCAD id: 20368