Jefferson Tuberculosis Sanatorium

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The Jefferson Tuberculosis Sanatorium was a series of medical facilities constructed by the Anti-Tuberculosis Association of Jefferson County for the treatment of patients infected with tuberculosis, often also called "consumption". In the early 20th century, the prevailing treatment for infection was sunlight and fresh air.

The Red Mountain tuberculosis camp in 1912

At the urging of Reverend George Eaves and health officer Robert Harkness, an Anti-Tuberculosis Association of Jefferson County was established in 1910 and erected an infirmary, originally consisting of canvas tents on Cahaba Road in what is now English Village. The project was supported by the Birmingham Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Board of Lady Managers for Hillman Hospital (which did not admit infectious patients), the Graduate Nurses Association, and various public and private organizations. It accepted its first patient in August 1910 and treated 78 people over the course of its first year, reporting good results.

A framed building, called the Red Mountain Sanitarium, was completed in 1914. The society treated both white and Black patients at the sanitarium.

In 1921 the Association relocated to a newly-donated 45-acre site off of Montgomery Highway in Shades Valley. A new facility, now called the Davenport Building was designed by architect Bem Price. The anticipated budget for the building was around $110,000, but when it opened on June 3, 1925 it was reported that $250,000 had been spent. A "Third Main Building" was completed adjoining it in 1937.

In the 1940s, wide distribution of antibiotics provided a more reliable treatment for tuberculosis, though the disease remained a leading cause of death in the county well into the 1950s. The former tuberculosis sanitorium was repurposed in 1973 as Lakeshore Hospital, now the Lakeshore Foundation's Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital.

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