Wisconsin State Tuberculosis Sanatorium

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Wisconsin State T.B. Sanatorium

Admin Building
Established 1905
Opened Nov. 7, 1907
Closed 2011
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Wales,WI
Alternate Names
  • Ethan Allen School for Boys


In 1902 the Wisconsin Legislature responded to pressure from Progressives and public health reformers and authorized the creating of a commission to study the problem of tuberculosis in Wisconsin. In 1903, Governor Robert M. LaFollette instructed a three-person commission to investigate tuberculosis in the state, its treatment and prevention, and the practicality of a state sanatorium. Based on recommendations from the commission, the State Legislature passed a bill establishing a state Sanatorium in 1905 to treat state residents in the early stages of pulmonary tuberculosis.

The sanatorium, located on 200 acres of land purchased for $35 an acre from Welsh farmers near Wales, Wisconsin opened with 40 patients on November 9, 1907. When it opened, the grounds consisted of an administration building, a kitchen with dining hall (commonly called the “refectory”), two cottages, and a powerhouse.

In 1959 the Sanatorium was converted to the Ethan Allen School for Boys, which served as a correctional facility for boys age 10-25. The state closed the correctional facility in 2011. Local and state officials in December 2015 discussed the possibility of reopening Ethan Allen, as a youth detention center or to house sex offenders, but those proposals ultimately fizzled. In 2016, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett also called for the school to reopen, but nothing came of that either.


Main Image Gallery: Wisconsin State Tuberculosis Sanatorium