Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Catawba Sanatorium

Jeanette Brown Witt married my third cousin once removed, Albert Hugh Burt, between 1946 and 1948. They lived in Roanoke their entire married lives. Jeanette worked as a stenographer and Albert worked his way up to district supervisor at the State Board of Education. He died in 1969 and Jeanette, in 1992. They are both buried in Evergreen Burial Park.

In 1940, before her marriage, Jeanette was a patient at the Catawba Sanatorium, which was established on the site of the Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs, located seven miles from Salem and southwest of Roanoke. The facility was founded in 1908 as a public institution for the treatment of tuberculosis. It was known as one of the most organized and best equipped institutions of its kind.

W. W. Baker began the sanatorium after he experienced the disease himself. He introduced a bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly that made the sanatorium a possibility. Visitors commented on the cheerful atmosphere and smiling faces. The facility stayed open until the 1950s when better methods were found for the treatment of tuberculosis. Then the sanatorium became the Catawba Hospital, which is still being used today.

Dining Room at the Catawba Sanatorium near Roanoke, Virginia;
photo courtesy of
The Infirmary at the Catawba Sanatorium; image courtesy of

Jack L. Wood, once the acting director and CEO of Catawba Hospital said in a 2001 interview with Cooperative Living that the sanatorium was "a premiere facility in the early 1900s. We had the first X-ray machine in Roanoke valley."

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