The County purchased the property, a working farm, in 1874. Hillcrest County Hospital (originally called Sonoma County Infirmary) was founded in 1876 on this property south of Chanate Road (formerly Sonoma County Road). Ailing and impoverished citizens were residents. These residents grew most of their own food and the facility was largely self-sufficient. In association with the County Hospital and farm, the Old County Cemetery was established in 1878 just west of the current Norton Behavioral Health Center.
In 1936, a new County Hospital was built on the north side of Chanate Road to replace the Hillcrest County Hospital and farm. (For a time the old Hillcrest County Hospital building became a geriatric center. The building no longer exists.) In 1939, Oak Knoll Sanitarium (now Norton Behavioral Health Center) was built on the south side of Chanate Road, for treatment of tuberculosis patients. Both the Hillcrest County Hospital and the Oak Knoll Sanitarium were funded in large part by the federal Public Works Administration, one of the New Deal programs launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.
The County medical complex expanded over the years to meet demands. On the north side of Chanate Road, just east of the County Hospital, Chanate Hall was constructed in 1946 as a dormitory for nursing staff.
The original 1936 County Hospital was renovated several times. In 1956 a two story addition was added. The addition included a kitchen and cafeteria. In 1972 a four story expansion was added to the building. To the west of the hospital, the Health Services Administration building was built in 1952. This building also houses the Public Health Lab. The County leased the hospital buildings to Sutter Health in 1996. At the end of 2014, Sutter Health vacated the buildings and relocated to a new facility near Highway 101 and Mark West Springs Road. The County former hospital buildings are currently vacant.
On the south side of Chanate Road, several of the old farm buildings were used in the 1950’s as Hillcrest Detention Home for juveniles. The 1936 Hospital Boiler and Laundry building was repurposed as the County Morgue and Coroner’s Office. In 1952, a small office building was added along Chanate Road and two buildings to serve as a juvenile hall. New Family Practice Center buildings were constructed in 1972. A modular building was added just south of the Norton Center for Behavioral Health administration in 1989. Some of the other old buildings have been used by non-profits including the Goodwill Wellness Center, Bird Rescue, and Regional Parks’ storage.
Paulin Creek extends through the southern edge of the medical complex, through the 26 acre County Water Agency property (a flood control reservoir), through Parcel J, and the nine acre Ag Preservation and Open Space property. The Creek then flows westward beyond Mendocino Avenue along the southern edge of the County Government Center, eventually connecting with Piner Creek.