Built for Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis was big money  for Colorado Springs in the early 1900’s. So much so that a 1917 Chamber of Commerce booklet devoted more than half of its 87 pages to detailing all the reasons why tuberculars should make the trek out west.

They could have nice, fresh, “germ-free” air and loads of sunshine. A stunning mountain climate would provide beautiful vistas and thin, dry air at the same time. And, as if those weren’t reason enough, welcoming citizens and local businesses were on hand to provide ample opportunities for rest and relaxation, a nourishing diet, and a charming social life. All of which, according to medical thinking of that time, were just what the doctor ordered for “lungers”.

Tuberculosis brought a tremendous amount of money to Colorado Springs, from wealthy patients to the booming medical industry. Architecturally as well, it helped to create the local cityscape, and you can see the impact of tuberculosis in buildings still standing today.

The influence is such that I’ve started researching housestories for a selection of those historic buildings. Coming up over the next few weeks and months I’ll include some housestories of TB-influenced architecture, from huge sanitariums to smaller independently-run boarding houses and tent cottages. So, stay tuned for that!

Photo Credit and Info for historic photograph at top: Copyright Pikes Peak Public Library District. Gift of Mean Stone, Jr., H. Chase Stone Collection, Image 051-6138.

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Resources:

Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. Colorado Springs: City of Sunshine. Colorado Springs: The Prompt Printery, 1917.

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12 thoughts on “Built for Tuberculosis

  1. I’m a Colo. Springs native (born at Penrose Hospital). My family were pioneeers there around the Turn of the Century – earlier than the TB time- when the town was known as “Little London”. While TB patients might have added revenues to the Springs, I think it was already kind of prominent. My Uncle was born there in 1903 – perhaps around the time the family business got going. Good luck on the research! I’m interested

    • So true–early Colorado Springs was by no means a town strictly for the sick. I’ve heard the economy described as having three main veins: mining, travel and tuberculosis. And Colorado Springs did have nearly 20 years under its belt before its first major sanitariums were built in the 1890’s. What’s amazing to me is what a critical role TB played in development of the city we know today–the list of accomplished people who moved here because they had TB and their influence on the town is fascinating. As an aside, Penrose Hospital began as the Glockner Tuberculosis Sanitarium! Thanks for reading–more TB info coming soon!

  2. Great post. My family came to Colorado Springs from Missouri (thankfully because I love CO so much more than I could MO) in 1928 because my great-grandma had TB and they hoped that the climate would help her. Really enjoy reading your histories of the town I love!

    • Oh wow–was she young, or already an adult when they arrived? I’m constantly surprised by how many historic figures moved to Colorado Springs with tuberculosis, right up until antibiotics were developed in the 1940’s.

  3. Pingback: Union Printers Home: Raising Funds a Dime at a Time | housestory

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  5. Pingback: Tuberculosis huts – the neatest little backyards treasures | ~ House Crazy ~

  6. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

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