Evansville had a unique part in helping out during the tuberculosis epidemic, and ties to that time in history remain on Evansville's west side.

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TB Sanatorium
Getty Images 1942: A patient in the tuberculosis convalescent home at Paddington, London, enjoying the view from her window. (Photo by D. Hess/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Tuberculosis in the Early 1900s

In the early 1900s tuberculosis was rampant due to many moving to America's larger cities.  According to the National Library of Medicine at the time, tuberculosis was one of the leading causes of death for people during that time.

Tuberculosis of the lungs (aka “consumption” or “phthisis”) was one of the two leading causes of death in the early 1900s (the other was pneumonia.) It often killed slowly, and patients might be coughing up infected sputum for years, as the disease gradually destroyed their lungs and wasted their bodies. It became an especially pressing public health issue in the late 19th century, as millions of immigrants poured into America’s larger cities.

Of course with tuberculosis being so widespread, it makes sense that even Evansville was impacted by the epidemic.  However, did you know Evansville has quite a unique history with tuberculosis?

TB Sanatorium
Getty Images
1942: Patients in a sunny ward of the tuberculosis convalescent home at Paddington, London. (Photo by D. Hess/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Evansville Was Home to a Top-Notch TB Hospital

On Evansville's west side, there is a building that many refer to as the "old Boehne Tuberculosis Hospital" and while partially true, the building that many refer to was never actually the hospital. According to Evansville Living the building that is now home to The Restoration at Bohene Camp, was once a part of the administration building for the tuberculosis hospital that opened in 1908.   The building that was once the actual tuberculosis hospital has since been razed.

Photo of The Restoration at Boehne Camp
Photo of The Restoration at Boehne Camp

However, did you know the facility that treated tuberculosis in Evansville more than a century ago, was considered among the top tuberculosis hospitals in the country?

Willard Library recently shared this fascinating piece of Evansville history in a Facebook post, and they explained it better than I could so I'll share their post below.

Did you know that in the early 1900's, tuberculosis cases surged throughout the US? Furthermore, did you know that Evansville had one of the country's "top-notch" treatment centers for it?
Tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs, causing severe coughing, harsh chest pains, fevers and other negative symptoms. When left untreated, this can become deadly. As treatments weren't as advanced as they are today, many people died from tuberculosis.
Evansville's tuberculosis hospital was founded in 1908 on the far west side of Vanderburgh County. It offered care to those with the disease, including treatment of fresh air and sunlight. It was not until 1924, 100 years ago this year, that the hospital was taken over by the county and received the name Boehne Tuberculosis Hospital, which honored John W. Boehne, who was an Evansville Mayor and eventual US Congressman.
The grounds served a variety of causes after the need to remain dedicated to tuberculosis ended in the 1960s. The main hospital building was eventually razed in 2000. The main administration building still stands. Within the last 15 years it was renovated into 5 condos. A little further down the hill and s-curve of Boehne Camp Road there also still stands today the former nurses residence. This image from the Knecht Collection of the residence dates back to 1915!

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