Jackson County Sanatorium

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Jackson County Sanatorium
Established 1918
Opened 1928
Closed 1971
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Single Building
Location Jackson, MI
Alternate Names Northlawn Hospital


There wasn't much for tuberculosis patients a century ago. Some stayed at home until they died or got better; others went to sanatoriums.

In 1928, Jackson County opened the Tuberculosis Hospital, a two-story, brick building on Erie Street off Lansing Avenue. The county's death rate at the time was 43.5 per 100,000 residents. The first building proved inadequate. Fresh air was considered a necessity, and one side had no windows.

County voters had approved $75,000 in 1918 for a new contagious-disease hospital. Four thousand dollars were spent in preparation, but the final structure was never built.

In 1928, county supervisors agreed to put the leftover balance toward a new sanatorium after the state Legislature passed an act declaring tuberculosis a communicable disease. A county bond issue also passed that year, allowing construction of a $300,000, state-of-the-art facility.

The new sanatorium was intended for 54 patients. The third floor was reserved for advanced cases; the second floor held ambulatory patients. There were four, four-bed wards and six, two-bed rooms on that level. Screens provided the only privacy. This level also offered sitting rooms, open terraces and porches.

Sick children were nursed on the first floor. Nearby were the administrative offices and outpatient department. Two dining rooms also were located on ground level -- one for patients and the other for nurses. The basement housed recreation and occupational-therapy rooms, a kitchen and the heating plant.

On Jan. 6, 1931, 16 patients were moved from the old hospital to the new facility, located on the same grounds. The first year saw 110 people admitted. Twenty years later, the death rate was reduced to four per 100,000 residents.

It was later known as Northlawn Hospital and it closed in August 1971. The building currently holds state parole and Friend of the Court offices.