Chicago's last Tuberculosis Sanitarium
August 31, 2010 8:08 AM   Subscribe

"Why TB you ask. The house I grew up in, from 1961 to the 1974, faced the grounds of the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. There was a fence around the property and it was patrolled by security guards daily. That was all I knew." Via.
posted by bibliogrrl (9 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Very interesting story. I grew up directly next to one of those sprawling old psychiatric hospital campuses as it eventually emptied out, died, and decayed. I can relate to much of this story.
posted by amethysts at 8:16 AM on August 31, 2010

Is it sanitarium week on Metafilter?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2010

I grew up in Chicago's near west suburbs, and our stomping grounds included the abandoned (by then) Concordia TB Sanitarium, located between Harlem and Des Plaines Aves., and on Cermak (22nd St.). Weird coincidence, since I didn't really know about the north side sanitarium, is that my father grew up on Central Park Ave, just south of the hospital.

My mother used to tell us about the "fresh air" rooms they had in public school in the 30s, where "consumptive" types (pale, fair, thin) were isolated from the general population. She was one of many who tested negative for TB, but was considered likely, so their classrooms went unheated, with windows open at all times, the idea being that fresh air was the best cure for TB/"consumption."
posted by beelzbubba at 8:38 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had a friend in college who's father was an administrator at a large, aging state mental facility. He actually grew up on the campus of the facility (within the gates). We would occasionally stop by to visit his family in his little convertable. I remember the drive into the facility was down a long, straight, empty, tree-lined road with no roads off to the side (I'm sure deliberately). Every time we'd go down the road I'd think about some of the patients back in the early days of the facility being hauled down that road, mile after mile, in horrible anguish, perhaps bound in some slow moving wagon or carriage.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2010

Re: the sanitarium in the link. I live quite close to there. It is a beautiful example of how the reuse of such spaces can really enhance a community (fought for through the efforts of passionate neighbors). Here is some history (and here) of the area. We now have two playgrounds, a park district gymnasium, a public health office, a retirement community, a nature center, herds of deer, and many other interesting attractions right in Chicago. It is a gorgeous place to walk, play soccer, ride a bike, geocache.
posted by jeanmari at 10:13 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ok, thank you jeanmari for your links! I used to work over there (and didn't even REALIZE it when I posted this) and I live quite close. So cool.
posted by bibliogrrl at 10:40 AM on August 31, 2010

Very neat series of posts. I particularly liked the stories from the former medical resident and former patient. I'll have to go check this place out sometime.
posted by lholladay at 12:22 PM on August 31, 2010

Hey, what's the deal with the whole sanitarium vs. sanatorium thing?

"consumptive" types (pale, fair, thin)

Hey, that's me! They'd probably make a big to-do about my fatigue and chronic cough, too. I'm just a weak nerd with post-nasal drip, honest!

*googles some stuff*

Huh. Looks like I not only fit a lot of the symptoms of TB, but a bunch of the risk factors, too. I think I might talk to a doctor about that. Like, soon. Dammit, MetaFilter!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2010

Great post! I actually went to one of the Halloween walks they hold on the grounds there a couple years ago and was really fascinated by the old sanitorium. I remember I googled it at the time and couldn't find any information, though it's still on Google maps I believe as the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium.

This is the kind of article I wish I could open up the Chicago Tribune and read but alas it seems like anything really interesting is confined to the internets now.
posted by Jess the Mess at 4:20 PM on August 31, 2010

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