Arkansas Tuberculosis Sanatorium

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City/Town: Booneville
Location Class: SchoolResidentialChurchHospital
Year Built: 1863
Year Abandoned: 1973
Status: AbandonedEndangered
Photojournalist: Michael SchwarzEddy SissonJames KirkendallLuke Gramlich




cover_story1-13Located on the hill just a few miles outside of Booneville Arkansas stands the imposing campus that was once known as the Arkansas Tuberculosis Sanatorium. The entire campus is approximately 800 acres and was constructed in 1909 by Haralson & Mott, Erhart & Eichenbaum. The main hospital building was named after Senator Leo Nyberg who was a tuberculosis patient himself. At it’s peak the campus was at a larger population then the city of Booneville with over 1,000 patients and 300 staff members.

It has been discovered that Tuberculosis has been around for thousands of years from evidence of a mummified corpse dating back to approximately 2000 B.C.. One of the first Sanitariums to be built in the United States was the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium. It was ordered to be built by doctor Edward Livingston Trudeau. Edward took care of his brother James who was infected with Tuberculosis and died within three months. Edward Trudeau had the idea to construct the Sanitarium where there was access to cold air to help treat Tuberculosis. The Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium (Little Red) was constructed in 1885 and was a one room facility. The Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

ahc_1019_fThe National Tuberculosis Association’s mission was to set a network of Tuberculosis treatment facilities throughout the United States. Tuberclosis infection was specifically high in young people and those who lived in areas of poverty. Doctors and nurses were sent out to diagnose both the well and sick to determine Tuberculosis infection. Pneumothorax was performed under local anesthesia to collapse the lungs in order to treat tuberlosis patients. Rest, sunshine, and a milk and egg diet was also believed to be a remedy for the disease. Sanitoriums were constructed in locations to catch a breeze during all hours. Most notibly the Waverly Hills Sanitorium was constructed at an angle to catch the draft. The sanitorium still stands today and is under renovations.

In 1935 the city of Fort Smith donated land for the Wildcat Mountain Sanitorium to be constructed just a few miles outside of town. This was a sub branch to the Arkansas State Sanatorium. In 1937 the first patients arrived and soon the facility reached its full capacity. The Sanitorium was close on December 1st 1958 and is now demolished.

The city of Booneville donated more then 800 acres to construct the Arkansas Sanitorium which was 76 buildings. The price of patient admission was $10.00 a week. At the time it was its own city and was equipped with its own indpendent telephone system,  masonic lodge, chapel, water treatment plant, dairy farm, dormitory, and even a fire department. As more Tuberclosis  vaccines were invented the decline of patients caused the closure of The Arkansas Tuberculosis Sanatorium in 1973. Today the campus is owned by the state and the patients of Booneville Human Development are housed in some of the buildings. The Nyberg buildings first floor is completly renovated however the remaining four floors and basement are vacant. The Arkansas State Sanitorium was added to U.S. National Register of Historic Places on October 5, 2006.

See also the McRae Sanatorium/Alexander Human Development Center

Liked it? Help AAR take action to save some of these places on Patreon! Donations will help fund clean ups, securing of buildings and hopeful restorations as we work with the owners who want to bring them back to life.
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PHyllis
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PHyllis

My grandfather and granny both were there. His name was Tom McCourt, hers was Anna. I don’t know dates, I wish there was a way to search records.

Brenda Summers
Guest
Brenda Summers

Can you tell me about a patient Clarence Morgan Copeland please? I am an old relative. Thank you! God Bless!

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Kimberly
Guest
Kimberly

Is it haunted? Will they let you explore it?

Baby
Guest
Baby

I was born there in 1964, and then put up for adoption. I was told that very few babies were born there. Is there any way to access those old records?

Linda V
Guest
Linda V

Is there anyway to get old files of patients that were there and when exactly they died. My grandfather and his brother were there in the early 1930s

Joan Hilliard Keaton
Guest
Joan Hilliard Keaton

My grandfather was there sometime in the 1930's. His name was Luther Beam.

Shelley Blanton
Guest
Shelley Blanton

There is a book entitled "History of the Booneville Sanitorium". It may be available at the Fort Smith Public Library or possibly in Booneville somewhere. There IS a copy at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith in the Pebley Center, this I know.

Jennifer Cruts
Guest
Jennifer Cruts

What happened to the bodies of the patients who died? My aunt would like to know where her aunt is buried.

Joanne
Guest
Joanne

Jennifer, im sorry about the passing of your aunt. There is a website you can go to to locate Graves by town, state, name. It is findagrave.com. I live in booneville area I was raised here then moved back after living in texas. I have always been interested in the history. The facility is still open. It now houses patients for the state who are incapacitated in some way. Unfortunately mostly mental development. I have relatives and friends that work at the facility. Yes, some buildings are not in the newest renovated state, but they are still beautiful. The grounds… Read more »

Virginia Oliver
Guest
Virginia Oliver

I am searching for information on my great grandmother Delilah Holmes. Someone has said that she died in a tuberculosis sanitarium in Arkansas just outside of Fort Smith. I do not know iif there was one closer than Boonville. Someone said she died in 1920, others have said she died in 1923. Are there medical records available that could be accessed to learn if indeed she lived and died there? Help

Penny Oliver Almond
Guest
Penny Oliver Almond

I’m penny jo Oliver. Is this my aunt Virginia ? My grandfather Miles Duncan was in this hospital as well.

Brittany E Losoria
Guest
Brittany E Losoria

There was a TB sanitarium outside of Fort Smith. It is not the same as Booneville. It was demolished in 1958, I believe.

Kay
Guest
Kay

I’ve been told that the booneville library has a book with records

Casper Green, Jr.
Guest
Casper Green, Jr.

I grew up outside Booneville in Earl Prairie. I've been to the San many times during the late 1930s and 40s. My sisters and I sang for the patients on a couple of occasions. We sang inside one of the buildings but I don't remember which one and we didn't wear masks – obviously – if we were to sing. The San played a major role in helping stamp out the dreaded disease of TB in the US and the people of Arkansas should be proud of the role they played. Everyone dreaded to enter the TB hospital but the… Read more »

Vincent Pittman
Guest
Vincent Pittman

My MOM BILLIE DAVIS-PITTMAN was there in the 1940s. She ran around with HATTIE DAVIS. And she lived until 1996!

tracy
Guest
tracy

wow what history that they are letting ruin…they should get some of the things out of there for a display. .so many neat things…so many people lost thier lives there and was treated.they need to get those things out before it is totally destroyed

kayla
Guest
kayla

What this article doesn't tell you though is the basement is used for a haunted house every year and some of the stuff pictured are props like the blood smears and creepy jars…it's still a cool and creepy place…when I worked at bhdc my class got a tour of the top floors

Regina Clack
Guest
Regina Clack

My grandpa was there, and grandma and mom both worked there.

Margie
Guest
Margie

My aunt Ethel Herbert died there in 1957 or 1958 . Does any one know or remember her ?

Margie Pate Riney
Guest
Margie Pate Riney

My Aunt Ethel Herbert died there in 1957 or 1958. Does anyone remember her or know her ?

Hailey
Guest
Hailey

Why is there always a random tricycle in abandoned hospitals/asylums ?

Joni
Guest
Joni

This place should be buried

Sorry that family members died of TB. They could have survived There were many people
that did. Authority of hazardous buildings need to bulldoze and put it to rest Dangerous now.

Karla King Terry
Guest
Karla King Terry

My grandmother was there for a while in the '30s, Delma King. My mother and her brother, Dorothy and Bill King, were residents there for a while. My Mother exclaimed how scary it was and seeing folks pass in their own body fluid. To the day she went on to glory, she had an intense fear of institutions and when I accompanied her to the county health department in our area for a skin test, she was scared they would keep her.

Wanda Jones
Guest
Wanda Jones

My mom entered this facility in 1952. In January 1953, my brother just older than I, my baby brother, baby sister and myself entered the facility. We all left in October 1953 and moved to Arizona on order of my mother's physician. My mom had surgery in 1952 for TB and passed away in 2003. Her mother died of TB in 1925 or 1926 from TB leaving nine children including a newborn. Would like to see post from others who were there.

robbie guereca
Guest
robbie guereca

My father was in the Nyburg Hospital and my sister,brother and I were at the Masonic children’s hospital in 1951 . Our mother was at the nurse facility. I would like to see photographs of the children s Masonic physillity at that period of time
My email isrobbie.guereca@yahoo.com

Rhonda
Guest
Rhonda

I was here about three or four weeks ago and I made contact with what I believe was a little boys spirit named Joshua, age 7. I have researched to find anything to further verify this but haven’t found anything yet.

Joe Mama
Guest
Joe Mama

can I break in easily ?

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