Healthcare Of The 1920s and 1930s

Photos By: Roger Walling Via the Heritage of Cullman County Alabama Volume II

VINEMONT – In the early 1900s, sanitariums were places where people afflicted with Tuberculosis (TB) were taken and placed so that they may receive simple treatments that mainly consisted of a proper diet, fresh air and lots of rest.

The Vinemont Sanitarium was located near the north end of Childhaven Road at Vinemont in a large house. Curiously, that same house was still standing as recent as 2008. It was inside a large, white frame house, which had been built at the end of the Victorian Period. The Preacher Bates family owned and operated the place while in use back in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The old sanitarium had two levels and a large front porch that wrapped around three sides of the place. The porch played an important part of the healing process for the patients because it was where they were wheeled out and placed so that they could receive the much needed sunlight and fresh air necessary to their recovery.

TB was, and still is, a very dreaded and highly contagious bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs. TB is spread from one person to another through tiny droplets that are released into the air by coughing and sneezing. When a person in the Vinemont and surrounding areas back then contracted the terrible disease, they’d find themselves at the sanitarium where they spent a lengthy time in recovery. The reason the afflicted person was taken from their homes back then was to prevent the spread of the disease to other family members. Sadly, a lot of people died as a result of TB. I’m sure many spent their final days in the very sanitariums they had been receiving their treatments in.  

Before the sanitarium was built, Mr. William Pope owned the property on which it stood; he was a man who had once owned a vast amount of land back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Over the years, that same property changed ownership several times before the Lake family purchased it. Mr. and Mrs. James Thomas Lake bought the land to use for farming around 1934. After the couple passed away, their son, James S., owned the land until his death. Today, descendants of the Lake family still own the house and surrounding property. The Lakes used the old sanitarium for residence only.