Morgan County Tuberculosis Sanitarium

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Morgan County Tuberculosis Sanitarium
Established 1871
Opened 1917 (as a sanatorium)
Closed 1969
Demolished 1981
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Single Building
Location Jacksonville, IL
Alternate Names
  • Oak Lawn Retreat
  • McFarland’s Insane Retreat
  • Oaklawn


Among those leading the local fight against TB in the early 1900s was Dr. T.O. Hardesty, who helped organize the Morgan County Anti-Tuberculosis Society in 1905, the second such group in Illinois. A few years later, Hardesty established a clinic and began treating patients with TB, which can cause a fever, emaciation, loss of strength, coughing, breathing difficulties and the spitting up of blood.

The state of Illinois joined the TB battle soon thereafter when the legislature passed a bill authorizing county governments to levy a tax for the purpose of establishing and maintaining TB sanatoriums, according to records of the Morgan County Anti-Tuberculosis Society. The tax dollars helped the local TB organization buy Oaklawn Retreat, a private psychiatric hospital on east side of Jacksonville, in 1917.

Oaklawn Retreat, also known at one time as McFarland’s Insane Retreat, was established by Dr. Andrew McFarland in a hilltop grove of oak trees in 1872. The main building, which was said to have been modeled after a Scottish abbey, housed mentally-ill patients from as far away as Colorado, Oklahoma and Wyoming. The TB association remodeled the building and renamed it Oaklawn, the Morgan County TB Sanatorium.

Few drugs were used in the early years of the sanatorium. In fact, of 78 patients treated one year, only $476.58 was spent for medication. Sick would have their beds wheeled onto a porch on the south side of Oaklawn, where they would be exposed, even in cold weather, to fresh air and sunlight, which were thought to improve the patients’ health. Patients’ average stay at Oaklawn was from 18 months to two years, according to sanatorium records

Antibiotics developed after World War II joined the fight against TB and greatly reduced the incidence of the disease. By the 1960s, the Oaklawn staff was turning more to prevention and early diagnosis as fewer patients were hospitalized at Oaklawn each year. The Oaklawn TB Clinic moved to the Medical Center on West Walnut Street in 1969, and the old sanatorium building was razed in 1981.