Kentucky’s State Tuberculosis Hospitals once dotted the landscape of the Commonwealth. Five hospitals, erected from 1946 to 1950, were situated in district locations selected by the Tuberculosis Sanatoria Commission of Kentucky. The decommissioning of the hospitals saw the transition of the London and Madisonville sites into state office buildings. The Ashland Tuberculosis Hospital buildings found new life as offices and shelter housing for Safe Harbor, Inc. The two remaining sanatoria sites, Glasgow and Paris, fell into disrepair and ultimately were razed.
Dedicated on June 14, 1950, the Paris Tuberculosis Hospital (District Three State Sanatorium) received its first patients on July 24, 1950 and gained the distinction of being the first of the new sanatoria to open. The 100-bed sanatorium was designed following the same Gillig-Hartstern & Wilson architectural blueprint used for the new sanatoria sites in Kentucky. Land conveyed from the Bourbon County Fiscal Court to the Commonwealth of Kentucky provided the acreage for the five-building sanatorium complex in Paris.
Although the Commonwealth described the five new $1.5 million hospitals as a progressive step in public health, its timing was poor to say the least. The arrival of state tuberculosis sanatoria in Kentucky coincided with the development of streptomycin and the triple therapy drug treatment. These new medicine regimens basically eradicated the need for sanatoria and outdated the new tuberculosis hospitals before they were even a decade old. The topic of what to do with the sanatorium complexes came up for discussion in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Kentucky’s Tuberculosis Sanatoria Commission attempted to open the hospitals up to a wider range of pulmonary diseases; despite these efforts, the hospitals were decommissioned in the 1970s. Given the broader trend in tuberculosis treatment, it was surprising that the hospitals lasted even this long as sanatoria had largely become medical relics at the time of their inception.
In preparation for its decommissioning, the Paris Tuberculosis Hospital, known at the time as the Paris Respiratory Disease Hospital, underwent some substantial modifications in 1975 before its closure in 1979. The original 42.92 sanatorium property was eventually subdivided to make way for the Bourbon County Park and the construction of a softball diamond. Lack of use and routine maintenance left the sanatorium buildings in poor condition. With the Paris Tuberculosis Hospital slated for demolition, a 2011 survey by William M. Hunter of Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. (CRA) documented the extant site buildings before the scheduled razing. In addition to photographing and researching the National Register-eligible Paris Tuberculosis Hospital, CRA created a series of interpretive panels to be installed at the county park.
In late August of 1950, Glasgow Tuberculosis Hospital (District Six State Tuberculosis Sanatorium) became the second of the state sanatoria to open. According to Barren County records, land purchased from J.C. Hutcherson in 1947 formed the basis for the sanatorium site. Following decommissioning, the Glasgow Tuberculosis Hospital reopened in 1977 as the Glasgow State Nursing Facility, a long-term facility for intellectually disabled or mentally ill patients. A 2004 masonry project and subsequent structural analysis in 2006 led to the decision to replace the main hospital building. The General Assembly allocated a total of $20 million to construct a new facility on the premises that opened in 2013. In late June 2014, the old main hospital building was demolished.
Remarking on the end of the sanatorium, Dr. Phillip Bale, the Glasgow State Nursing Facility’s former medical director noted:
That facility, of course, was built to be a tuberculosis hospital, and when you think of the things that went on there many years ago, how little we knew back then about so many things and where medicine has come…that building represented healthcare in the 1930s and the 1940s and the new building is magnificent and capable of so many things.
– Excerpt from “Glasgow State Nursing Facility Had Long History”
Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. Paris Tuberculosis Sanatorium State Recordation and Interpretive Signage. 2011.
Hunter, William M. Paris Tuberculosis Sanatorium. Kentucky Individual Buildings Survey Form. 2011.
Kinslow, Gina. “Glasgow State Nursing Facility Had Long History.” Glasgow Daily Times (June 24, 2014). http://www.glasgowdailytimes.com/news/local_news/glasgow-state-nursing-facility-had-long-history/article_673a0d07-7b57-5aee-a150-11d535ddf24d.html
Kinslow, Gina. “Nursing Facility Nearing Completion.” Glasgow Daily Times (December 10, 2011). http://www.glasgowdailytimes.com/news/local_news/nursing-facility-nearing-completion/article_3fce1564-fb5e-5922-abf2-99403253be38.html
“New Glasgow State Nursing Facility Officially Opens.” The Lane Report (July 23, 2013). http://www.lanereport.com/22908/2013/07/new-glasgow-state-nursing-facility-officially-opens/
“Paris TB Hospital.” Asylum Projects. http://www.asylumprojects.org/index.php?title=Paris_TB_Hospital
“TB Hospital Demolition.” O’Rourke: Demolition Specialists Since 1962. http://orourkewrecking.com/projects/tb-hospital-demolition/
“TB History – Historical Photographs.” Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/epi/tbhistoryphotos.htm
Westerfield, Savannah. “Paris Tuberculosis Sanatorium State Recordation and Interpretive Signage.” November 4, 2013. Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. http://crai-ky.com/paris-tuberculosis-sanatorium-state-recordation-and-interpretive-signage/