Abandoned Hazelwood Sanatorium

It was through the efforts of William Carrier Nones, a prominent Louisville citizen, that the Kentucky Anti-Tuberculosis Association was formed in 1905. The development of this organization, focused almost exclusively in the Louisville metropolitan area, was an effort to stamp out the contagious bacterial infection that develops within a person’s lungs.

The development of the association led to the initial completion of Hazelwood Sanitarium on September 9, 1907.

Hazelwood was the first institution of its type in the commonwealth, and was built as a 34-bed open-air tuberculosis clinic in Hazelwood, a new neighborhood in the southern reaches of Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1914, the main building and laundry facility were destroyed by a fire. Fund raising was held, although because the institution was heavily mortgaged, the organization was having trouble securing contributions. Hazelwood had since its inception been operated on a semi-philanthropic basis, and it was not long before money was raised for a brand new building. Within months, construction of a new facility began and was opened to patients on April 1, 1915. The new building was able to house 120 patients instead of just 34.

The sanatorium found success for almost thirty years.  Then, in 1943, an additional 150 beds were added to Hazelwood, bringing its total capacity to 250 patients. African-Americans began to be treated alongside the white population. Louisville’s large African-American population was often the scapegoat for public officials looking to divert blame for the city's health problems.

In 1962, when another TB hospital, Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Hospital, closed as a tuberculosis hospital due to the new TB healing drug, streptomycin, the remaining patients were then transferred to Hazelwood. Hazelwood survived for another nine years as insurance wouldn't always pay for the TB healing drug, streptomycin, but would approve of patients to be moved in to Hazelwood.  Hazelwood eventually closed as a tuberculosis facility in 1971.

Although the Hazelwood Center still operates around it, the former TB hospital has been abandoned, and is in a state of disrepair.  The Hazelwood Center, which rests on the same property as the Hazelwood Sanatorium, can be seen quite clearly from the roof of the abandoned structure. 

With fresh air, sunshine and lots of rest believed to be the main things needed in order to heal from TB, many rooms looked like the ones photographed below.  Long, open "windows," with beds sitting right next to each other in a barracks style set-up.  Metal screens were in place to prevent escape and allow as much air in as possible.  The metal was scraped and replaced with wood upon the closure of the sanatorium.

We spoke with a gentleman that worked at Hazelwood Sanatorium.  He told us,

"I worked at Hazelwood in 1978. A couple of us ventured through a time or two after it was closed.  It was in really bad shape.  I remember very vividly that balcony/roof. We were afraid to step on it in fear of falling through. The doors and windows all had cage doors and the rooms still had the beds lined up barrack style."

"At the back of the building on the 2nd or 3rd floor, there was a room that I was informed was the bloodletting room. It was a long narrow room and I believe a metal drain ran the width of the room.  But, I was not a Doctor, so I was never allowed in that portion of the building." 

The same boiler room/building is used today for the Hazelwood Center that were used for Hazelwood Sanatorium.  They simply cut off the line leading up the hill to the Sanatorium and extended it to the Center.

Take a look at what else we captured:

Notice the smoke detector placement.  It is approximately a foot from the ceiling.  Meaning, that a whole foot above the detector (since hot air rises) could fill with smoke before the detector actually sounded.  You think they would have learned these things when the first building burnt down.

Videographer, Jonathan as he leads us through the 3rd level.

The question that everyone asks when we search these abandoned places is, "How did you get in?"  With ten foot tall fences and Hazelwood Center security watching 24/7, its almost impossible to get in during daylight hours without being seen.  So, we asked.  We asked security if we could go in.  They allowed us ten minutes on the property.  With having permission and people in place,we were able to capture this piece of Louisville history while it remains standing.