Julius Marks Sanatorium

Blue Grass Sanatorium

(From the Lafayette Studios Photograph: 1930s Decade Collection, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky)

(From the Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 15 February 1920)


In September of 1917, the Blue Grass Sanatorium at Lexington was formally opened. The original building was meant to hold 32 adult patients and approximately 20 children and would be increased as demand and money warranted. The buildings were arranged so that the patients could receive the fullest amount of fresh air and sunshine; at the time, these were two tenants for treating tubercular patients. The sanatorium welcomes a physician from the famous Tradeau Sanatorium along with a corps of trained nurses in the treatment of tuberculosis.

Dr. Edward J. Murray served nearly four decades as superintendent. (From the Lexington Herald, Lexington, Kentucky, 26 November 1966)

The first patient to be admitted to Blue Grass Sanatorium was a young tubercular nurse, Miss Margaret Goins. By 1920, nearly four hundred patients had been treated with four having died at the institution and an additional twenty-five dying after leaving the hospital against medical advice. The Sanatorium received fiscal support by means of taxation.

Patients are served the same food with the exception of children who get milk or cocoa instead of coffee. There were special diets for bed patients who were given extra food between meals if ordered by the physician. Each patient is given all he wants to eat and is encouraged to ask for a second helping should he want it. Milk was provided between meals from tuberculin-test cows. The superintendent visited every room, pavilion, and patient every day. The head nurse also made the same rounds once a day. A schoolroom was available for the children. The name was later changed to the Julius Marks Sanatorium.

School in Julius Marks Sanatorium. (From the Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, 24 February 1952)

Leo Marks donated to upgrade buildings and equipment in the name of his father in 1924. By the early 1950s patient population as greatly decreased due to better treatment and the facility was converted into a nursing home. Today the main building is gone but several outlying ones remain maintained by the Lexington Parks Department.

A Day in the Life

  • 7:45 AM – Patients have breakfast and arrange their beds and lockers and the rooms are cleaned up.
  • 9:30 AM – Patients rest in chairs and are privileged to read and engage in conversation with each other. Those who are permitted to have exercise take the prescribed amount.
  • 12:30 PM – Dinner is served.
  • 1:30-3:30 PM – All patients rest in bed and there is no talking. There is no reading or writing, just a period of absolute rest.
  • 3:00 PM – Temperatures and pulse are self-taken by the patients.
  • 3:30-5:00 PM – There is rest or exercise, reading, writing, talking, or the reception of visitors.
  • 5:30 PM – Supper is served.
  • 6:30 to 8:00 PM – Patients enjoy various forms of recreation.
  • 7:00 PM – A nurse records the temperature and pulse of every patient.
  • 9:00 PM – All patients must be in bed.

Image from the 1938 First Annual Report of the Consolidated Health Department, Fayette County Board of Health.

Images from the Lexington Herald-Leader, 3 February, 1952.

Image from the Lexington Herald-Leader, 3 February, 1952.

Contributed by Phil Tkacz & Shawn Logan | contact@kyhi.org

⁘ Works Cited ⁘

  1. The Lexington Leader, 9 December 1949
  2. The Lexington Leader, 12 December 1952
  1. The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 15 February 1920, p. 68.
  2. Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Kentucky), 20 September 1917, p. 2.

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