History of Oakland Park Communities
On January 5, 1916, Pennington, Marshall, and Roseau Counties voted to establish a Tuberculosis Sanatorium. They purchased 20.65 acres of beautifully wooded land from Martin Bothum for $5,000.00. By December 1, 1917, Nelson and Son of Minneapolis had constructed a brick, cement and iron building, furnished to provide care for 24 patients. The first Tubercular patients were admitted in January of 1918.
in 1922, Red Lake County joined ownership of the "San". By 1932, occupancy averaged 54. Substantial improvements of building and grounds (including a tennis court for the new staff house) were carried out primarily with WPA funds. WPA funds underwrote 45% of the cost of the addition on the North side of the East wing in 1939.
Coincidental with the steady decline of T.B. came the need for care of the dependent elderly and in November, 1954, the remaining "San" patients were transferred to Sunnyrest Sanatorium in Crookston. Rooms were remodeled to accommodate a possible 80 residents. Oakland Park was the 8th such institution in the state to be converted into a "rest home" and on January 4, 1955, the first of the area's elderly unable to care for themselves was admitted.
It was crowded, but the Home's reputation for quality care was begun. In 1966, Roseau and Red Lake counties withdrew ownership. In 1969, the 90 bed CNC Unit of the hospital was opened to provide badly needed beds at the skilled level. OPNH could lower its occupancy and shortly provide care at the Intermediate I level.
It became evident in 1972 that the old building, although structually sound, was inefficient and out of compliance with state and federal rules and regulations and planning was begun. In February, 1974, after a year of assessing needs and alternatives, Agassiz Health planning Council was notified of the intent to replace the old building with a new 75 bed facility and an application for a Certificate of Need was submitted in August of 1974. After the CON was issued and bonding referendum passed, Marshall County sold its interest to Pennington County. In June of 1975, ground was broken, and the 52 residents of the Old Home moved into the new $1,242,061.00 single level building designed by Patch, Erickson and Madson and constructed by Witcher Brothers on the N.W. corner of the property July 1, 1976. It was dedicated Septenmber 2, 1976.
The "Old San", after being used as a dormitory for students was not occupied for quite some time so the building was removed in March, 1999 due to safety concerns and to provide green space and a view to the park. A local Eagle Scount established a tree-lined memory walk with raised flower beds in vacated space.
In 2006, Pennington County Commissioners began looking for a buyer to assure the continued viability of the facility. Then in March of 2007, Jim and Kathy Birchem purchased Oakland Park Communities from Pennington County.