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Driving Tour of Southern Pocahontas County and the Pearl S Buck Birthplace
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Tuberculosis was a national epidemic that affected people of all races, but African Americans in West Virginia and other states were rarely able to secure treatment at local hospitals. In order to serve these patients while maintaining a system of racial segregation, the West Virginia legislature created the West Virginia Colored Tuberculosis Sanitarium in 1917.

  • Photo of the West Virginia Colored Tuberculosis Sanatorium that was established in 1917 and opened two years later in 1919.
  • Photo of the abandoned Denmar Sanatorium.
  • WV Historical Marker

In 1917, during the peak of the tuberculosis out break in the United States, West Virginia purchased 185 acres of land and buildings in the local area to create a facility that would treat African Americans with tuberculosis. Prior to this time, there were few options for African Americans with the disease. The facility opened in 1939 and accepted all black patients with TB that could afford to pay--a decision which still left many without treatment options.

As medical science began finding cures and effective preventative measure, the need for TB hospitals declined. IN 1950, the sanitarium was transformed and renamed the West Virginia State Hospital for the Chronically Ill. In 1990, that facility closed and the building remained in state hands. It is now The Denmar Correctional Facility.

Since the closing of the sanitarium many death records have been surfacing of patients who passed away in the facility. Many family members have been in search for decades of the records of relatives who were registered there and never released. The state has faced many legal actions taken by the families and now most of the sanitariums records are available online.

"Abandoned" last updated 2014 "wv" last updated 2015 "" last updated August 2002

Image Sources(Click to expand)

"Denmar State Hospital." Accessed October 6, 2020.