Palmer Tuberculosis Sanatorium

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Palmer Tuberculosis Sanatorium
Opened 1913
Closed 1952
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Single Building
Location Springfield, IL
Alternate Names
  • Springfield Open Air Colony
  • Fair Hills Residence (Current)


The Springfield Open Air Colony was a private sanatorium for people suffering from tuberculosis that operated at Chatham Road and Lawrence Avenue from 1913 until the 1940s. The Colony eventually was renamed the Palmer Tuberculosis Sanatorium, after Dr. George T. Palmer, a public health advocate and specialist in tuberculosis who was associated with the institution for its entire existence. The colony, which in 1919 charged $17 per week and up, also cared for poor people with TB, thanks to funding from Sangamon County and the Springfield Tuberculosis Association. Otherwise, the 1914 Springfield Survey reported, Sangamon County had few resources for needy TB patients.

The former sanatorium was vacant in 1954, when the longtime pastor of First Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Richard Paul Graebel, initiated a move to buy the facility as the site for a planned Illinois Presbyterian Home. Following a fundraising drive, the church bought the old sanatorium complex, which took in 26 acres, for $140,000. The first residents moved in on March 5, 1956. The facility is now the Fair Hills Residence of the Illinois Presbyterian Home.