Michigan State Parks Centennial: Maybury

Maybury State Park has the distinction of being the first state park created in Wayne County,  opening in 1975.

But many years before it became a state park, the property was home to The Maybury Sanatorium. From 1921-1969, the sanatorium housed and treated tuberculosis patients from Detroit. Tuberculosis was a serious contagious disease. At the time, there was no real treatment as antibiotics had not yet been discovered and introduced into mainstream medicine.

Maybury’s Medical History

The sanatorium was named for William Maybury, a wealthy real-estate mogul and social reform advocate. He oversaw the construction of the facility after convincing the Detroit City Council of the need to help stop the spread of this terrible disease. In a cruel twist of fate, Maybury himself succumbed to tuberculosis in 1931. He lived out his last days in a farmhouse on the property.

Patients were isolated at the sanatorium to reduce the spread of the disease. While there,  they could enjoy fresh air, good food and relaxation. These remedies were thought to help cure the disease. The sanatorium was designed to keep patients comfortable since the disease could linger for months or years, and often resulted in death.

Given its remote location, the Maybury Sanatorium operated as its own self-sustaining city. It had a power plant, water supply, fire protection, on-site housing for staff and doctors, a school, multiple buildings for patients, a pasteurization plant, and a working farm that provided food and milk. A separate Children’s Camp was constructed. It was used for underprivileged children in the early stages of tuberculosis. People once thought that through exercise and good nutrition, the children would get strong and healthy and be able to lead normal lives.

At peak operation, Maybury Sanatorium cared for more than 850 patients and employed 475 workers.

The park headquarters, previously a home for doctors who worked at the Maybury Sanatorium. This building is slated for demolition in 2019.

Unfortunately, of the more than 40 buildings that made up the Maybury Sanatorium, only one brick house remains. It is soon set for demolition due to asbestos issues inhibiting restoration efforts. That building currently serves as the state park headquarters, but once housed the doctors who worked at the sanatorium. Part of the farm also remains in operation, but is now privately run and is not affiliated with the state park.

Maybury Today

Maybury State Park today consists of more than 900 acres and is a boon for trail enthusiasts – be it walking, running, casual cycling, mountain biking or equine. The park has 5 miles of dirt trails for mountain biking. There are 6 miles of unpaved hiking trails. The park also has 4 miles of paved trails that are used for biking and walking. In addition, 11 miles of equestrian trails wind around the park.

Many of the trails follow the original paths and roads built for the sanatorium. Although the buildings themselves are long gone, along the trails you will find a series of plaques. These provide descriptions and pictures of the buildings that once stood there. This is an interesting glimpse back in time of the land’s history.

No camping is offered at the park, making it day-use only. It is very popular. We witnessed many families on bikes, parents with strollers, couples bird watching, and friends running. Shelters are available to rent. And the park partners with the local community to host movies in the park, trail races, and other events.

This is a great park whether you live nearby or are traveling from a distance to enjoy the trails.


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