Middle Tennessee Tuberculosis Hospital

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Middle Tennessee Tuberculosis Hospital
Established 1942
Opened 1954
Closed 1976
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Single Building
Location Nashville, TN
Alternate Names


Tuberculosis was the No. 3 cause of death in Tennessee by 1943. As that year approached, Nashville was on the verge of getting approval for a much-needed state TB hospital to serve the whole Midstate area. A 65-bed hospital in the former home was dedicated in December 1942, but a bigger one came later.

Primarily because of the interruption of World War II, it wasn't until 1949 that a larger hospital was authorized, and it didn't open until March 1954. By then, tuberculosis was beginning to decline. It was the No. 9 killer in the country in 1953 and poised to drop to 13th place by 1955. A push for early detection and the use of antibiotics were working. In the early 20th century, the average hospital stay had been three years.

The narrow, seven-story, brick-fronted 1954 structure — still standing in a much-renovated fashion in 2006 — reflected institutional architecture of the day. Only the top floor with its four operating rooms, labs and morgue was air-conditioned. Such cooling remained a luxury in the early 1950s. But along with 224 beds, patients had "pillow phones," bedside radios and steel awnings to help shield the cross-ventilation windows from solar heat.

With a steadily dwindling number of patients in later years, the state hospital closed its doors June 30, 1976. Its three patients were transferred to the state-operated chest disease hospital in Knoxville, and other jobs were found for most of the 213 employees. By then, drug treatments had made long periods of bed rest and isolation unnecessary. In 1984-86, the hospital building was stripped to its structural frame and rebuilt in a more modern style to house the Tennessee Department of Health's Laboratory Services section, its current use.