Denmar Sanitarium

Penitentiary / West Virginia

Denmar Sanitarium is a repurposed tuberculosis hospital for African-Americans in Denmar, West Virginia. It became the Denmar State Hospital in 1957 and closed in 1990. It reopened in 1993 as a state prison.


In 1917, the West Virginia state legislature formed the State Colored Tuberculosis Sanitarium for African-Americans who had tuberculosis and tasked the West Virginia Board of Control to construct such a facility. 2 The Board of Control acquired 185 acres of land from the Maryland Lumber Company and the new sanitarium admitted its first patients on January 31, 1919.

The West Virginia Legislature appropriated funds for a larger hospital structure in 1937, which was completed in 1939. 2

The development of the drug streptomycin led to a dramatic decline of tuberculosis rates and deaths in the United States. 3 In 1957, State Colored Tuberculosis Sanitarium was desegregated and renamed the Denmar State Hospital to serve the chronically ill. Pinecrest Sanitarium in Beckley took in the remaining tuberculosis patients. 1

Denmar closed in 1990 and was turned over to the county. 1 It was acquired by the West Virginia Division of Corrections in 1993 and was converted into a state correctional facility. The site was expanded in 1998 when work began on a new multi-purpose building and a correctional industries and vocational structure.


  1. “DCC.” Denmar Correctional Center. West Virginia Division of Corrections. 25 Apr. 2006 Article.
  2. “Deaths at the West Virginia Colored Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Denmar.” West Virginia History 56 (1997): 88-121.
  3. “Paris, Bourbon County Welcome Tuberculosis Hospital.” Bourbon County Citizen (Paris) 15 March 1989. 3 Dec. 2007: 15.