Rewind: November 1, 2023 – “Bemis Update”
On April 16, 2011, when we were running our Rewind column in The Post Star, we printed an article about Dr. Edward Herbert Bemis and his ‘eye sanitarium’ in Glens Falls.
Several buildings built as part of the eye practice are still visible in the city. They include the apartment buildings on the west side of Union Street. Check the original article below for a list of the buildings that were part of the Bemis Complex, many of which were designed by noted architect Ephraim B. Potter.
The original article:
The original article read:
Edward Herbert Bemis was born in Bethel, Vt. in 1849 and originally studied to be an optician. He eventually went to New York City to study eye diseases and eventually settled in Glens Falls in 1870, He became quite successful here, and had branch offices in Utica, Boston, and New York.0
The Bemis Eye Sanitarium operated in Glens Falls from 1893 to 1902. Construction on the sanitarium was started in 1893. The medical complex was situated on about three acres of land in the Glen Street and Union Street area, and was dedicated solely to the treatment of eye disease.
People came from all over the country, and some came from as far away as Europe for treatment. By 1896, more than 58,000 treatments were provided for cataracts, glaucoma, detached retinas, and a wide variety of other eye disorders, using Bemis’s patented “Magnetic Vaporizer” to administer the “absorption method” of treatment.
Dr. Bemis lived in what is now the Sherman House and today is home to the Glens Falls Senior Center at the corner Glen Street and Sherman Avenue. Another pre-existing building on the west side of Glen Street and Notre Dame Street , as well as a carriage house there were converted for use by the sanitarium. Additionally, five other buildings, including the Allen House at the corner of Glen and Union Streets. This building was the main treatment center and is now an apartment building.
Four other buildings were built as boarding houses so patients and their families had a place to stay during the six-week treatment. Noted architect Ephraim B. Potter designed the houses built for the sanitarium, and these buildings stand today on Union Street between Glen, Harlem, and Notre Dame Streets. They, too, are apartment buildings today. In 1984 the complex was put on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the ‘Ephraim B. Potter Historic District.’
Ads for the Bemis Sanitarium stated that there was “no knife, no risk,” and that diseases and problems were treated with “The most successful and humane treatment in the world…the absorption treatment.”
Bemis died in 1901 and the sanitarium closed shortly after.
We recently came across this advertisement for the work done at the Bemis Eye Institute. We are presenting here, a copy of the original Rewind column on Mr. Bemis as well as the advertisement recently found.
This original article was originally prepared by Jamie Lounsbury while a student at Adirondack Community College and Stan Cianfarano for the Warren County Historical Society.