North Carolina Sanatorium

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North Carolina Sanatorium
Established 1907
Construction Began 1907
Opened 1908
Closed 2010
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Raeford, NC
Alternate Names
  • McCain Hospital
  • McCain Correctional Hospital


In 1908, the North Carolina State Sanatorium became the first state institution for the treatment of tuberculosis patients. Several private institutions, or resorts, were operating in western North Carolina before that time but treatment was limited to those who could afford it. Dr. J. E. Brooks refused to accept that North Carolina citizens infected with the lung disease had no other option than to stay home and wait to die. As a state legislator in 1907, Brooks secured an appropriation of $15,000 to purchase land and build a sanatorium, and an additional $5,000 for maintenance.

The site chosen for the sanatorium is in present-day Hoke County between Aberdeen and Raeford. The fear of spreading the infection led to its construction some distance from the nearest town. The mild winters and summer breezes of the Sandhills region made it the ideal location for patients who often slept on enclosed porches ventilated by air “tempered and filtered by the sand and filtered and perfumed by the pines.” The sanatorium opened on April 4, 1908, with capacity for thirty-two patients. A division for African Americans was established in 1923, a division for prisoners in 1925, and a division for children in 1927. Eventually the sanatorium housed 650 beds. All North Carolina citizens unable to go to a private specialist could attend the sanatorium’s diagnostic clinic. However, the waiting list for a bed often was long and it could take nine or ten months for someone to be admitted. Treatment lasted six months to two years and consisted of strict regimens of rest, medication, and in some cases surgery.

The North Carolina State Sanatorium was the parent of the state sanatorium system, which grew to include Western North Carolina Sanatorium near Black Mountain in 1937, the Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium in Wilson in 1942, and Gravely Sanatorium in Chapel Hill in 1953. The town where the first state sanatorium was located bore the name Sanitorium until 1948. At that time, it was renamed McCain in honor of Dr. Paul P. McCain who had served as superintendent and medical director from 1924 to 1946. In 1973, the State Sanatorium became McCain Hospital. With the increasingly low incidence of tuberculosis, the hospital was transferred to the Division of Prisons in October 1983. It served as a minimum custody health care center for male inmates before being closed in 2010.