Posts Tagged ‘TB’

The Sanatorium was a rest home for tubercular African American’s in Burkeville, Virginia from 1917 to 1965. The Sanatorium was later to become the site of  Piedmont Geriatric Hospital. You’re probably spotted my Newstead Sanatorium and may well be familiar with the USA Waverly Hills (another fascinating place) and aware of the killer TB, at it’s height it was accounting for around one in every ten deaths and the self-contained hospitals were pretty much known as “waiting rooms for death”.

In some cases the stories are grossly over exaggerated or at seem so but the fear of this killer was immense and now worryingly in the more recent news it seems the cases of this killer are once again on the rise. I was (I admit) a little surprised to think of a rest home specifically for black people, everyone to me deserves health  are on some level regardless of who they are. At the time of it’s opening the only treatment facilities for the care of black people were the Central State Hospital for Mental Diseases and the State Penitentiary.

For the black people in the 1910’s the urbanisation meant that Virginia Health Officials worked on evidence that pointed to the worsening situation, the “Negro  Health Problem”. It pointed to the high levels of disease, the maternal and infant mortality rates and the terrible conditions of sanitation mixed with poor diets and very hard physical labour. After lobbying for the new care home it was originally considered a good spot for the place would be Ivor but the local white population protested this fiercely and is recorded as such in August 1916. Lynchburg was considered to be the next site but they had an even worse response, it seems so sad that in a time of health crisis these people thought so little of the needs of others, yet again however I shall try to keep my thoughts to myself, this isn’t a political blog!

By the time they reached Burkeville the State Board of Health had lost its patients and despite protests they ignored the opposition and began construction. It was an organised routine for activities, meals and relaxation. Some patients learnt skills that would hep them when they left. Patients were also required to attend weekly lectures on tuberculosis to learn how to deal with sputum and other aspects of the illness. It was hoped that learning about it there would mean they took the lessons into their community.

It was the end of the era for the segregation of black and white patients around 1965. Piedmont Sanatorium closed and black patients were admitted into Blue Ridge Sanatorium, by 1967 the Burkeville establishment was converted to Piedmont Geriatric Hospital.

Pictures can be found at this website


For a few pounds on an old postcards site I have been able to get a picture of the Newstead Sanatorium, sadly this amazing building has been torn down and a housing estate now stands on the location. It was shut down in 1992 and demolished shortly afterwards, a friend of mine was able to point me to the area where it was once stood as he remembered it.

The postcard was sent from “Billy” to a French correspondent. It’s not very easy for me to make the handwriting out but basically they are apologising for not writing sooner, they provide the address for their new residence and they mention the hospital. It is post marked for the month of November but I cannot get the year, which is a shame as I would like to have known. The postage to France for this little card cost them 4d.

Here is what I can find but if anyone can clarify the details or give me more I would love to hear it.

The first mention I found of it was for 1938, but it appears it was opened in 1942 by the Duchess of Portland, for the City of Nottingham.  It sat in a valley around five minutes from Newstead Abbey (Famous for Byron) and visitors would come by double decker bus each Thursday and Sunday afternoon, they were able to  have two hour visits.

The approximation of beds seems to be between 240-300 beds for patients and was for the Nottingham residents only. It seems that the main area had rooms for one, two or four beds and the doors were rarely shut during it’s time as a tuberculosis hospital as it was felt that natural fresh air was the way to help cure it, until the later introduction of drugs.

I did find this reference to the place that might be of interest to someone investigating this:

 The British Journal of Nursing, April 1944


Newstead Sanatorium, Nottingham. – Miss Hilda I. Richards, S.R.N., S.C.M., has been appointed Matron. She was trained at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital; at the David Lewis Northern Hospital, Liverpool ; and at the City of London Maternity Hospital. Miss %chards has been Ward Sister at the David Lewis Northern Hospital, Liverpool ; Night Sister, Home and Stores Sister, and Assistant Matron at the City Sanatorium, Birmingham. She also took the Housekeeping Course of the Leicester Royal Infirmary; and holds Honours of the Tuberculosis Association

Also I found a note from 17th December 1963 stating that they would be removing the 30 miles per hour limit for the road. Objections to this change had to be made by the 14th January 1964.