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Hazelwood Sanatorium

Hazelwood Sanatorium is a former tuberculosis hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.

Hazelwood Sanatorium is a former tuberculosis hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. Portions of the facility operate today as a residential facility for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


It was through the efforts of William Carrier Nones, a prominent Louisville citizen, that the Kentucky Anti-Tuberculosis Association was formed in 1905. The development of this organization focused almost exclusively in the Louisville metropolitan area, was an effort to stamp out the contagious bacterial infection that involves a person’s lungs. 4 The development of the Association led to a fundraiser of $60,000 to acquire a large farm and residence in Hazelwood, 18 an emerging neighborhood in the southern reaches of Louisville. 1

The house was remodeled and converted into a 10-bed hospital, 18 and Hazelwood Sanatorium on September 9, 1907. 6 The opening of Hazelwood, the first institution of its type in the Commonwealth, 4 16 led to the eventual renaming of the Association to the Louisville Anti-Tuberculosis Association. 3

Kentucky soon had three tuberculosis sanatoriums—Hazelwood, Waverly Hills, and Jackson Hill, as well as tuberculosis wards at Eddyville Branch Penitentiary and the Western Kentucky Asylum for the Insane. 16

A fire in February 1912 destroyed Hazelwood Sanatorium. 18 The cost of a new fireproof building was estimated at $50,000 and an additional $20,000 was expected to be required for a surgical ward. Hazelwood had since its inception been operated on a semi-philanthropic basis, and it was not long before monies were raised for a new building. 2

The new three-story hospital, with 120 beds, 8 16 opened on April 1, 1915. 2 It included a high-pressure boiler, with emergency pumps and an elevated tank containing thousands of gallons of water for fireproofing. 18

Hazelwood was soon overwhelmed and by 1918, Hazelwood was supplemented by three open-air cottages, a sewage disposal plant, a dairy barn, a garden, and several tents for male patients were erected. 16 

Contracts were awarded in December 1935 for a new 70-bed Children’s Building. 26 Designed by D.X. Murphy & Brother, the three-story building included room for 70 beds, an X-ray department, an operating room for minor surgery, and a light therapy department. Funding for the $132,000 project was derived from the Public Works Administration. The Children’s Building opened on March 28, 1938. 27

Hazelwood Sanatorium
A rendering of the proposed Children’s Building.

Plans to triple the capacity at Hazelwood were announced on January 20, 1943. 7 The expansion was expected to cost $300,000 and increase the hospital’s capacity from 120 beds to 350 20/382 7 beds in two ward units and include an operating room and X-ray equipment. 25 That included 125 beds for African-Americans whereas none existed in the state previously. 7

The new 230-bed Arthur McCormack Memorial Hospital addition 22 remained unused after completion in 1945 because of a lack of around-the-clock doctors. 20 The $547,000 structure was also not equipped because of a lack of beds, X-ray equipment, sterilizers, and furnishings.

The building of a Nurses’ Home, at $245,650, was approved in January 1947. 23 The three-story home was to include housing, laundry, and recreational facilities for 100 nurses, 60 more than the present building. The existing structure was to be remodeled to be housing for nurse assistants. Construction on the new Nurses’ Home began in April 24 and was finished at the cost of $262,000. 20

Bids were opened for two resident Physicians’ Homes at Hazelwood in April 1947. 20 The two homes, estimated to cost $500,000, were a necessity to permit the opening of the McCormack Memorial Hospital complex.

Both the Nurses’ Home and Physicians’ Homes were completed in 1948.


Financial problems plagued Hazelwood from its conception. Initially, in order to receive treatment at Hazelwood, citizens had to apply first to their county’s fiscal court because counties bore financial responsibility. 16 17 In 1920, the state had to take over Hazelwood and by 1924, Hazelwood required that all patients pay a weekly rate of $15 for their treatment.

It was hoped that the fee would result in better conditions for patients but the hospital remained overcrowded.

Tuberculosis, by 1938, was the leading cause of death in Kentucky, and the state had the highest death rate in the nation, partly because of a lack of facilities, a lack of consistent statewide funding for treatment, and a lack of long-term care options. 16 17 27 On average, 2,000 died from the disease each year. 16 17 27

It was not until the passage of House Bill No. 147 in March 1944 that a statewide Tuberculosis Sanatoria Commission was established and that funding was provided for six 100-bed sanatoriums. 16 17 Five new state hospitals, at Ashland, Glasgow, London, Madisonville, and Paris were recommended along with the expansion of Hazelwood.

Immediately after Hazelwood was established as a state hospital, state funding for patient care dropped which caused some patients to have to pay for a portion of their treatment. 16 17 But the new Commission also afforded a 230-bed addition to Hazelwood, along with a reservation of 43 beds for African-American patients.

The 40-bed Elks Building was constructed in 1951. 36 It was converted into a ward for tubercular mental patients in 1957. 35


Initial treatment for tuberculosis included fresh air daily, a diet high in ascorbic acid, vitamin A, and protein, and bed rest. 9 Later, pneumothorax treatments were developed that allowed the partial or complete collapse of a lung by the introduction of air into the pleural cavity, giving the lung a chance to rest and heal. Treatment times were shaved in half, from an average of 2oo days to 300 days per patient to an average of 90 days. 21

The development of the drug streptomycin led to a dramatic decline in tuberculosis rates and deaths in the United States. 10 Streptomycin was first isolated in October 1943 by Albert Schatz, a Ph.D. student in a laboratory at Rutgers University as part of a research project funded by Merck and Company. 11 12 The first randomized trial of streptomycin against pulmonary tuberculosis was carried out between 1946 and 1948 by the MRC Tuberculosis Research Unit and was widely accepted to be the first randomized curative trial. 13 The results showed efficacy against tuberculosis. 14

Consolidation and Closure

It was proposed in 1960 that the county-operated Waverly Hills be closed in 1961 and that patients would be transferred to the state-operated Hazelwood. 19 The state would take over the entire cost of treating indigent tuberculosis patients in the county at the cost of $600,000 per year. The state would take over the entire cost of treating indigent tuberculosis patients in the county at the cost of $600,000 per year. Both the city and county favored combining the two facilities, which would save the city $352,000 per year and the county $216,000 per year.

Waverly Hills, in 1950, had 373 patients, but it had dropped to 293 patients by 1960. 19 Hazelwood, in 1960, had 181 patients and never had more than 245 patients at its peak count. It was found that, without major modifications, it could hold 280 patients and 440 patients with major renovations.

In 1962, when Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Hospital closed as a tuberculosis hospital and the remaining patients were transferred to Hazelwood. 16

A study conducted by the state Comprehensive Health Council in 1969 recommended that the state phase out its entire system of six tuberculosis hospitals by 1971, and reuse Hazelwood’s Elks and Nurses Home buildings to house mentally handicapped patients. 32 34 The six hospitals, including Hazelwood, had a capacity of 900 beds. It was proposed in 1970 that two tuberculosis hospitals remain in the state by the close of the decade: one in Louisville near the University of Louisville, and the other at Paris.

The state voted to convert Hazelwood into a mental handicap hospital 30 31 on January 15, 1971. 31 It was decided that patients could be relocated to a 62-bed floor at Louisville Memorial Hospital in a move that was to be “temporary.” The state proposed the construction of outpatient clinics at both the Memorial Hospital and the Louisville-Jefferson County Health Department, along with other sites in the region. It was hoped that a permanent tuberculosis unit with about 80 beds could be included in plans for a new Louisville General Hospital.

The conversion of Hazelwood into a mental handicap facility began in July and was completed at the cost of $1 million. 29 Sixteen patients were transferred to the newly rebranded Hazelwood ICF/MR from the Frankfort State Hospital and School. 32 It became the Hazelwood Center for Persons with Mental Retardation in July 1991. 33

Bids to remove the closed Elks Building and the Mack-Hill Building were let in July 2018. 15

Children’s Building



  1. Kleber, John E. “Hazelwood.” The encyclopedia of Louisville. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001. 379. Print.
  2. “Hazelwood Sanatorium.” The Louisville Monthly Journal of Medicine and Surgery 21.11 (1915): 377-378. Print.
  3. Nones, William Carrier. “History of Kentucky and Kentuckians.” A history of Kentucky and Kentuckians. By E. Polk Johnson. Vol. 2. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1912. 937. Print.
  4. Knopf, Sigard Adolphus. “Kentucky Tuberculosis Association.” A History of National Tuberculosis Association. Philadelphia: WM. F. Fell, 1922. 96-97. Print.
  5. National Tuberculosis Association. “Hazelwood Sanatorium Closed.” Journal of the Outdoor Life XI (1914): 316. Print.
  6. National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, and Philip P. Jacobs. “Kentucky.” A Tuberculosis directory. Vol. 1. Philadelphia: WM. F. Fell, 1911. 27. Print.
  7. Trout, Allan M. “State to Triple Bed Capacity at Hazelwood.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 21 Jan. 1943, p. 2.1.
  8. Crain Pub. “Hazelwood Tuberculosis Sanatorium.” Hospital Management 56 (1943): n. pag. Print.
  9. 50th Anniversary, Lawrence F. Flick State Hospital, 1963. Article.
  10. “Paris, Bourbon County Welcome Tuberculosis Hospital.” Bourbon County Citizen (Paris) 15 March 1989. 3 Dec. 2007: 15.
  11. Comroe, J.H. Jr (1978). “Pay dirt: the story of streptomycin. Part I: from Waksman to Waksman.” American Review of Respiratory Disease. 117 (4): pp. 773–781.
  12. Kingston, W (July 2004). “Streptomycin, Schatz v. Waksman, and the balance of credit for discovery.” J Hist Med Allied Sci. 59 (3): pp. 441–62.
  13. Metcalfe NH (February 2011). “Sir Geoffrey Marshall (1887-1982): respiratory physician, catalyst for anaesthesia development, doctor to both Prime Minister and King, and World War I Barge Commander.” J Med Biogr. 19 (1): p. 10–4.
  14. D’Arcy Hart P (August 1999). “A change in scientific approach: from alternation to randomised allocation in clinical trials in the 1940s.” British Medical Journal. 319 (7209): pp. 572–3.
  15. “Hazelwood Elks Building Demolition” Demolition Central Bid Network, 7 Jun. 2018. Listing.
  16. United States, Congress, National Park Service, and Jenna Stout. “Kentucky State Tuberculosis Hospitals, 1946-1950.” MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, 2015. Listing.
  17. Patterson, Malcolm. “New Commission to Manage 1st Major TB Program of Kentucky.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 6 Apr. 1948, p. 4.
  18. “Campaign In Interest of the Building Fund of Hazelwood Sanatorium to be Started.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 18 Aug. 1913, p. 5.
  19. “Jury Would Use Waverly Hills, Rather Than Hazelwood.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 28 Jan. 1960, p. 10.
  20. “Bids Being Taken for Hazelwood Doctors’ Homes.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 24 Apr. 1947, p. 2.1.
  21. Porter, Marion. “Hazelwood Sanatorium Addition Lacks Funds to Operate.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 30 Apr. 1944, p. 13.
  22. “Hospital Built Year Ago Is Still Idle.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 2 Feb. 1946, p. 8.
  23. “$245,650 Nurses’ Home At Hazelwood Approved.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 13 Jan. 1947, p. 4.
  24. “Hazelwood Work to Begin Wednesday.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 25 Apr. 1947, p. 2.12.
  25. “New Building for Hazelwood is Approved.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 31 Jul. 1943, p. 2.9.
  26. “Hospital Work May Start Soon.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 8 Dec. 1935, 4.1.
  27. “Out for 3 Months Instead of 26, Today’s Tubercular Is In Luck.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 20 Mar. 1938.
  28. Porter, Marion. “Hazelwood Building is Dedicated.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 29 Mar. 1938, p. 2.
  29. “State moves to push Capital Plaza apartments.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 16 Jun. 1971, p. 5.
  30. Bulleit, Paul. “Kentucky’s TB experts are widely split on prospects for defeat the disease.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 15 Feb. 1971, p. A15.
  31. Bulleit, Paul. “Louisville Memorial to replace Hazelwood as area TB facility.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 15 Jan. 1971, p. A7.
  32. Bulleit, Paul. “Transition of Hazelwood is complete.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 8 Jul. 1971, p. B11.
  33. Pike, Bill. “Getting acquainted.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 17 Jul. 1991, p. H5.
  34. Luigart Jr., Fred W. “Doctor Opposes Use of Hazelwood for Retarded.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 30 May 1969, p. A10.
  35. Pardue, Anne. “Hazelwood Will Treat Dual Ills.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 19 Feb. 1957, p. 2.1.
  36. “Tuberculosis Facilities Are Filled In State.” Paducah Sun, 1 Nov. 1951, p. 4.


Add Yours →

My mother in law’s mother, Amanda James died at Hazelwood at the age of 42 in 1956. Would be curious to know if any of her patient records still exist and if so, where would they be found?

Oh how do I remember Hazelwood, I was a patient There from November 1960 until June 1961.I Was blessed to make it out alive, because many people in there didn’t. It was scary for a 16 year old kid like me. I often think about that place,they saved my life…thank GOD.

Albert m Hansbrough

I am writing a history of medicine and public health in Kentucky (1878 to 1950). I’m very interested in hearing more of your story. Please write me at avlval (at) yahoo. Thanks-Val

It was open in 1975 as a residential school part of Jefferson County public school system I know I was there the name of the place at that time was called re-ed

I went there as well in 1975 I remember some of the teachers Mrs Oldam Mr Hudgens Mr Belack I believe Mr Alway was the head of it?

I have a post card dated 1917 showing the front of the building, the back has writing from one relative to another, anyone interested?

I am writing a history of medicine and public health in Kentucky (1878 to 1950). I’m very interested in hearing more of your story. Please write me at avlval (at) yahoo. Thanks-Val

I have a one share certificate of Hazelwood Hall Association dated March 20,1922. Is this the earlier stage of the Hazelwood sanatorium? does it have any value?

Bob Denton
Ellenton, Fl.

Look i need this for my business. i am only 13 years old, it would mean a lot to me if i have this. My business is very important to me i have wasted most of my time all ready. i will have to ask why are you selling abandon things i mean i think they have the right to do what ever as long as they don´t have to pay more money than you any body has.

Hi Mrs. Graham, my father was at Hazelwood in 1949 and in Feb. 1950 he had a full left lung and 6 ribs taken out. He was the youngest person to have a full Lobectomy and all 6 ribs on his left side. They did surgery on him as he lay across a saddle. He was also told that he might live to be 30 (he was 15 at the time). He will be 84 in May and still does whatever he want and in good health. I am trying to find the article that was in the paper, but not having any luck. I am going to keep doing research until I find it.

Best Wishes
Cindy Knight

My husband was in this facility from the first of Jan 1960 till April 1960. He had lung surgery here. Then it was a very painful surgery. They removed the top lobe of his left lung. Prior to being at Hazelwood he spent 13 months in another sanatorium in Glasgow, Ky. When he was released in April 1960 the doctors said he could possibly live another 20 years. He is now 77 years old and still working part time. We have 5 children, 13 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren with 2 more on the way! God has blessed us with a large family!

while the building pictured is currently unused, it is on the grounds and in open view of a fully functioning state residential facility. Please respect their home.

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