Our Lady of the Oaks


High Oaks Sanitarium

Our Lady of the Oaks Hospital. Conducted by The Sisters of Charity of Narazeth. Opened August, 1945, for Women Nervous and Emotionally Ill. (From the postcard collection at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky)


Our Lady of the Oaks began its life originally as High Oaks Sanitarium headed by former Eastern State Hospital superintendent, Dr. R. C. Chenault. An informational book published by Dr. Chenault noted that High Oaks was a private hospital to be used for the treatment of mild mental troubles, nervous diseases, and substance use issues such as “alcoholic stimulants,” cocaine, and opium. Dr. Chenault also said of the buildings that, “the walls are very thick, making the house warm in winter and cool in summer.” The campus also contained cottages for patients in addition to a three-story main building. In addition to Dr. Chenault and a competent nursing staff, he anticipated working with his daughter, a former assistant physician at Cook County Hospital and a graduate of the Woman’s Medical College of Chicago. Per rules of the hospital, patients were not received if they would be treated for less than one month as a several-months stay was usually necessary.

(From the University of Kentucky Archives, Lexington, Kentucky)

After the death of Dr. Chenault, Dr. Sprague took over the role of director of the hospital. An August 23, 1904 article in the Twice-A-Week Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky) noted, “A sensational turn was taken in the case of Mrs. Imogene Lyle, who was arrested here several days ago on a lunacy charge, when her attorney, S. S. Yantis, had Dr. G. P. Sprague, superintendent of the High Oaks Sanitarium, arrested on a warrant charging assault.” Habeas corpus proceedings against Dr. Sprague were dismissed on motion of the Commonwealth because Lyle had been taken out of the city already. High Oaks went on to operate for several more decades before the property was eventually sold to The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. They took over the hospital and renamed it, Our Lady of the Oaks. That hospital ceased operations by the 1960s.

(From the Kentucky Medical Journal)

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 Twice-A-Week Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), 23 August, 1904, p. 1.
  2. The Owensboro Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), 24 August 1904, p. 1.

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