Gresswell Tuberculosis Sanatorium for males was built in 1929, but due to financial constraints, opened in 1933. Gresswell sat on the grounds of Mont Park Hospital (VA 2846), in Macleod. Gresswell was surrounded by Gresswell Forest, with an area of 52 ha of Crown land, as a buffer zone around the Mont Park Hospital as patients needed to be isolated from surrounding housing.
Gresswell was named after Dr Dan Astley Gresswell, public medical administrator of the Board of Public Health from 18941904. The aim of Gresswell was to combat tuberculosis during the 1930s. The last tuberculosis patient was admitted to Gresswell Sanatorium in April 1970.
In May 1970, Gresswell Sanatorium was transferred to the Mental Health Branch and became the Gresswell Rehabilitation Centre for male alcoholic and drug dependent patients.
In 1970, Gresswell began admitting alcoholic patients, and accepting cases from Royal Park, Larundel, Mont Park and Plenty Hospitals. A total of 48 patients were admitted to two 24-bed wards.
Gresswell Sanatorium later became Gresswell Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre, in c.1974, under the guidance of Drug Services Victoria. It was an 'Alcohol and Drug Dependent Persons Services Branch', as a result of the Vagrancy (Insufficient Means) Bill 1974, which was a Bill to amend Section 5 of the Vagrancy Act 1966. The amendment allowed an alternative method of dealing with such persons considered also to be alcoholic, drug-dependent, in need of medical, psychiatric or nursing treatment, or otherwise in need of care and protection. It allowed those individuals to be referred to assessment centres, such as Gresswell, for treatment under the provisions of the Alcoholics and Drug-dependent Persons Act 1968. Gresswell Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre opened as an alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility with around 140 beds, allowing for approximately 500 people per year to be treated at the facility.
Until 1990, funding for alcohol and drug services in Victoria concentrated on four large government alcohol and drug centres that were geographically isolated, provided limited access for clients and were not linked to other alcohol and drug and health and welfare services (Pleasant View Centre, Smith Street Clinic, Gresswell Rehabilitation Centre and Heatherton Hospital Alcohol and Drug Unit).
Gresswell closed as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in June 1995. Funding was subsequently redistributed across the state for the establishment of community-based drug withdrawal services, specialist methadone services and specialist counselling and support positions.