Willowbrook Sanatorium

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Willowbrook Sanatorium
Established 1913
Opened 1916
Closed 1970s
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Single Building
Location Kenosha, WI
Alternate Names
  • Kenosha County Sanatorium


Kenosha was one of the first counties in Wisconsin to establish a sanitarium for the treatment of tuberculosis. The county began the groundwork for the venture in 1912 and bought the 87-acre farm on Washington Road from Jeffery for $175 an acre. Part of the property stayed in use as a farm, which supplied the sanitarium with pasteurized milk, fresh eggs and poultry.

The Wisconsin Anti-Tuberculosis Association had sent several sets of plans that were inexpensive to build and economical to administer and had been used in other counties, but in the end, the building committee chose local architect Joseph A. Lindel to design the $39,500 building. The cornerstone was laid in the summer of 1915, and the first patient arrived in a raging snowstorm on March 1, 1916.

The facility had wards and 24 private rooms, and was increased in size from time to time to keep up with the population growth. During the Great Depression, additions to Willowbrook were financed by a federal Public Works Administration grant. By 1937 there were about 10,000 active cases of TB in Wisconsin, but only 2,000 institutional beds.

It was reported that in Willowbrook’s first 24 years, the TB death rate in Kenosha decreased significantly — to the lowest death rate of any county with a population of 50,000 or more in the state — despite the industrial nature of our community. In 1938, the capacity at Willowbrook had grown to 71 beds with a staff of more than 20. Two more buildings had been erected: living quarters for nurses and a power house.

Soon afterward, the west wing was remodeled and a new purpose was introduced specifically for it: a county-run home for the elderly. It would be many years more before the name Brookside was official. By 1970, Willowbrook had a TB outpatient dispensary and later an outpatient clinic. By the end of the decade, Willowbrook was no more.