The story of a forgotten America.

Ashland Tuberculosis Hospital

The Ashland Tuberculosis Hospital is a former tuberculosis sanatorium in Ashland, Kentucky.

In 1945, the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Kentucky Tuberculosis Sanatoria Commission acquired a 30-acre tract of land from Alfred Hanses for $1 with the goal of developing a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. 3 The site selected was ideal because of an abundance of fresh air and trees atop Rose Hill at the edge of Ashland, a heavily developed and industrialized city. It was believed that a combination of fresh air and rest aided in the recuperation of patients that had contracted tuberculosis, an infectious and contagious disease.

The state provided $2.7 million towards the administrative and operational costs of the hospitals, which included regional complexes in London, Glasgow, Madisonville, and Paris. 2 It was generally agreed that the facilities being built would later be turned over to the counties for use as district state hospitals or as general charity hospitals. 3

The Ashland Tuberculosis Hospital was designed by Gillig-Hartsten & Wilson and constructed in 1946 but its opening was delayed until May 1951 because of issues relating to water pressure. 3 The facility consisted of a four-story main hospital building, a combination boiler house and laundry building, a director’s home, a nurse’s home, and a staff residence. A maintenance building was added in the late 1950s.

The development of the drug streptomycin led to a dramatic decline of tuberculosis rates and deaths in the United States, 2 eventually leading to the closure of the hospital in 1977. 3

The fourth floor of the main hospital building was reused from the 1980s until 2005 as part of a state crime lab, 1 3 and in 1989, the state leased the three residences to Safe Harbor, a regional non-profit domestic violence center. 3

In February 2008, Safe Harbor announced that it would rehabilitate the main hospital building to provide permanent and supportive housing for women and children who were victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. 1 It would include a playground, meditation garden, ponds, and gardens. Headed by AU Associates, work included gutting the building to add one, two, and three-bedroom apartments, a full-time daycare, a kitchen for vocational training, classrooms, and meeting rooms. All of the work was completed by the spring of 2009.



  1. Preston, Tim. “Creating a safe place in a neglected space.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 27 Feb. 2008.
  2. “Paris, Bourbon County Welcome Tuberculosis Hospital.” Bourbon County Citizen (Paris) 15 March 1989. 3 Dec. 2007: 15.
  3. United States. Dept. of the Interior. Ashland Tuberculosis Hospital. Comp. Johan Graham. Washington: National Park Service, Oct. 2007.


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I worked their as the school nurse when it was called the Ashland Youth Development Center. I had visited there as a nursing student in the 1960’s when it was an active TB hospital. If walls could talk these could tell a thousand tales. Some of the patients that were confined there hung themselves in the batheoom.

My father was a doctor there in the mid 1950s. We lived in a three unit apartment building on the grounds. There were I think on 6 kids living on the ground, and only one other boy, so all our games (including baseball) were two-handed.

My father was a doctor there in 1963/4. Similar living situation on the grounds. I remember 3 or 4 other kids on the grounds, but quite a few more in the neighborhood behind us. Almost 60 years later, I’m planning to revisit the place soon just for the sake of nostalgia.

I lived beside the hospital growing up. I remember it well. I still live there.
In the ’60s it eas a very busy place. The laundry was beside my house.

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